Fort Carson, the Mountain Post, is an Army post located southwest of Colorado Springs, between Interstate 25 and Highway 115. This post is recognized as one of the world's premier locations to lead, train, and maintain while preparing soldiers to win on the battlefield. This proud team fosters personal and professional growth by providing a command climate that attracts, develops, and retains quality people. In 1999, the 7th Infantry Division (Light) was reactivated at Fort Carson. It is the first Active component-Reserve component Army division. The three enhanced separate brigades of the division are made up of units from Oregon, Arkansas and Oklahoma National Guard. Headquartered at Fort Carson, the units remain in their relative states, training for deployment.
NORAD is one mile west of Ft. Carson. NORAD provides surveillance and control of the airspace of Canada and the United States, and provides warning and assesment of air, missile, and space attack.
Fort Carson is located on the south side of the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in El Paso County. The installation stretches south along Interstate 25 into Pueblo and Fremont counties. The cantonment area of Fort Carson is located in the northern part of the installation. Fort Carson houses the 3 Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (ID), 43 ASG, and 10 Special Forces (SF). As a result, the Base has several vehicle maintenance facilities for tanks and other tracked and wheeled vehicles. A complete tank engine depot maintenance and dynamometer testing facility is also located at Fort Carson. The Butts Army Air Field (AAF) is an active runway and hangar facility used primarily by Army rotary-wing aircraft.
Fort Carson military operations and tenant activities include: the Army and Air Force Exchange (AAFES); Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO); Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE) (which provide operations and maintenance support to the installation); a medical detachment (MEDDAC); dental activity (DENTAC); the Colorado Air National Guard, Explosive Ordnance Detachment (EOD); Navy Construction Battalion (Seabees); Directorate of Logistics (DOL); Directorate of Public Works (DPW); Directorate of Planning, Training, and Management (DPTM) - Range Control; Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management (DECAM); 759th Military Police (MP) Battalion; 52 Engineering (EN) Battalion (BN); 4th ENGR and DIV ENGR.
The history of Ft Carson started with Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941; the United States declared war on the Axis powers. Washington D.C. officials in charge of selecting new sites for military installations went into immediate action. Less than one month later on January 6, 1942, it was announced that Colorado Springs had been selected as the site for an army camp. On February 22, 1942, Colorado Springs newspapers reported that the installation would be named Camp Carson in honor of Brigadier General Christopher "Kit" Carson, the famous frontiersman. The original military reservation consisted of 60,048 acres of land; 5,533 donated by the city of Colorado Springs, 29,676 purchased from private owners, 262 acquired from the Department of Interior, and 24,577 leased from the State of Colorado.
During World War II, a total of 104,165 soldiers trained at Camp Carson. Along with three other infantry divisions- the 71st, 104th and l0th Mountain -more than 125 units were activated at Camp Carson and over 100 other units were transferred to the Mountain Post from other installations. The camp trained nurses, cooks, mule packers, tank battalions, a Greek infantry battalion and an Italian ordnance company-soldiers of any and every variety. Toward the end of the war, after the departure of the divisions and established units, Camp Carson trained replacement troops and provisional companies. The peak troop strength of the installation was in late 1943 when approximately 43,000 military personnel were stationed at the camp. Carson was filled with soldiers who came here to be trained quickly before going overseas. There were no facilities for dependents. Families had to fend for themselves. By the late 1940s-with the war over- assignments stabilized.
A total of nearly 9,000 German, Italian, and some Japanese prisoners of war were interned at Camp Carson during World War II. The internment camp, opened on the first day of 1943, was later redesignated a POW camp. Located just inside Gate 3 between the service and supply area and Highway 115, it originally housed 3,000 prisoners. In 1945, an additional 5,000 prisoners were housed in barracks located east of Pershing Field in the area now occupied by Division Artillery.
With the onset of the Korean War, activities at Carson were increased. A large number of Reserve and National Guard units were called to active duty and stationed at the Mountain Post. The largest of these was the 196th Regimental Combat Team from the South Dakota National Guard, which arrived at Carson in September 1950. Also stationed at Carson were more than 20 engineer and artillery battalions and several miscellaneous companies and detachments.
Colorado Springs was just beginning to recover from the recession of the early 1950s when word came that Carson was to become a fort. It was true that the 31st (Dixie) Division had been transferred to Carson in February 1954 from Camp Atterbury, but that was only because Atterbury was closed. The 31st was redesignated as the 8th Infantry Division on June 15, 1954. During 1955 the 8th (Golden Arrow) Division trained more than 25,000 soldiers for other units in the United States and abroad. In spite of the nation's emergence from war to peace, there were approximately 25,000 troops at Carson, plus about 2,000 civilian employees.
On August 27, 1954, when Carson became a fort, the town of Colorado Springs cheered. With permanent military payroll the prospects looked good. The joy did not last, however. The 8th Division went to Germany, under "Operation Gyroscope," and traded posts with the 9th Division in 1956. The 9th Division reorganized and went Pentomic, acquiring a nuclear capability. Regiments were retired, and battle groups formed into brigades. An active training center continued to turn out new soldiers. By February 1960, the 9th Division had trained approximately 85,000 recruits and 17 ,000 advanced individual trainees since its arrival at Carson.
During 1960 and most of 1961, the 2nd United States Army Missile Command (Medium) was the only major unit at Fort Carson. The McNamara list of base closings did, although not known at the time, include Fort Carson. Then the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Blockade brought justification to reactivate two more divisions. The missile command was inactivated to man the Training Center in August 1961. When the Training Center had turned out enough basic and advanced trainees, a total of 29,597, the 5th Infantry Division was formally reactivated on February 19, 1962. The 5th was the Army's first mechanized infantry division to be organized under the "ROAD" (Reorganization Objectives Army Division) concept.
The problems of training a mechanized division triggered the need for more land. In 1965, Fort Carson acquired 24,577 acres of state land (leased since 1942) by trading it for federal land located at the Lowry Bombing Range east of Denver. In 1965 and 1966, a total of 78,741 acres of land were acquired south of the original reservation at a cost of approximately $3.5 million. This consisted of 45,236 acres purchased from private individuals, 22,694 acres of state land traded for more land at the Lowry Bombing Range, and 7 ,668 acres purchased from the Colorado School of Mines. An additional 2,871 acres were acquired without cost from the Department of the Interior in trade for Camp Hale. These additions brought Fort Carson to its current size of 138,523 acres. On March 7, 1966, Camp Red Devil was opened. The camp was the first year-round training area at Fort Carson for soldiers in a field environment. The base camp, which could accommodate as many as 950 soldiers, is located south of the main post off Highway 115.
Beginning in 1965, the war in Vietnam had an ever-increasing impact on the Mountain Post. Training for Southeast Asia became the priority at Fort Carson. In 1966, 14,000 Carson-trained soldiers were sent to Vietnam. In 1967 , 9,000 soldiers were transferred; and about 6,000 went in 1968. During the years 1965-1967, 61 units were activated at Fort Carson. By far the largest unit transferred was the 1st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). The brigade, called "Task Force Diamond," was airlifted directly to Da Nang in July 1968 in the second largest airlift in history. By the end of 1967, activities at Fort Carson had risen to a higher level than at any time since World War II. In October 1965 the military strength was 9,658; in March 1967 it was 24,735. The Army civilian strength went from 1,337 in March 1965 to 2,445 in July 1967. The economic impact of Fort Carson on the State of Colorado rose from approximately $55 million in 1964 to $ 100 million in 1967. Fort Carson has never been isolated from the rest of the nation. Events at the Mountain Post reflect the mood of the country and the Front Range. In the late 19605, relations between the post and the city of Colorado Springs hit an all-time low. This corresponded to the growth in rationwide anti-war protests.
As the U.S. involvement in Vietnam decreased, inevitable cut- backs again began taking place. In November 1970, the 4th Infantry Division, eight days senior to the 5th, was ordered to relocate to Fort Carson. The real significance of the announcement to the people of Colorado Springs was not so much which division would be based at Fort Carson, but that the Pentagon had decided to keep the post open. The impact of the Mountain Post at that time was $200 million annually in the Pikes Peak Region.
In the fall of 1970, Fort Carson was officially notified that it would be an initial test site for the Modern Volunteer Army concept. The 18-month field test, aimed at creating an environment conducive to an all-volunteer Army, started at the Mountain Post in January 1971. The best of the test programs would be incorporated into Regular Army budgeted programs. Initially Carson was awarded $5 million to support the test program. The money was used to increase recruitments and retain active soldiers by improving the quality of Army life. The list of VOLAR projects included: coffee houses. bar- racks cubicles and furniture. mobile classrooms, alcohol and drug programs, outdoor recreational areas, an enlisted men's council, a racial harmony council, a fine arts program, package ski trips, cash awards for achievement and an off- post guest house. The overall VOLAR program, aimed at eliminating the need for the draft by July 1, 1973, had a major impact at Carson. Living conditions were improved. Pay was increased. Training was upgraded and made more relevant. Communications were also improved. Communications played a vital role in VOLAR. The post newspaper, The Mountaineer, was augmented by other publications. A Spanish newspaper, Adelante, was published to reach individuals who spoke English as a second language. Soldier's Bag was for the troops, and Over The Back Fence was for spouses. A large number of organizations produced publications that were unique to their area of interest. The enlisted men's council made quality-of-life recommendations to the command. VOLAR ended officially at Fort Carson on June 30, 1972. A large number of VOLAR projects have been discarded, however many of them continue to have an important role in today's Army.
By January 1973 the economic impact of Fort Carson on the Pikes Peak area was over $340 million annually. The average military population was 20,400 and the post employed about 2,900 civilian workers. The average soldier was changing, and by June of that year more than 50 per cent of the troops at Carson were volunteers. Army women were part of the Mountain Post since its beginning, but it wasn't until a WAC Company was organized in 1972 that they had any real impact on Fort Carson. Organized with one officer and seven enlisted soldiers, the company grew to 300 by the end of 1973 and to more than 1,500 just two years later. Fort Carson, always an active and visible part of the Front Range, began to become even more involved with community relations programs. Project MAST or Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic, started in the summer of 1970, was a life saver on the Front Range. Other Army projects included a new hospital wing for the Navajo Indians at Crownpoint, New Mexico; a dam and reservoir for the San Isabel Scout Ranch; and many graded baseball diamonds-all constructed by Carson engineers.
The US Army announced on September 23, 2004, that Fort carson would become the new home of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The unit deployed to Iraq as part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 rotation, and consists of 3,762 troops, and would be relocating from Korea where it had previously been stationed. Upon completion of their deployment in the July-August 2005 timframe, the unit will relocate to Fort Carson, but dependents were expected to begin relocating to the facility prior to that date. The move appeared to signal that Fort Carson would not be targeted in the forthcoming round of military base closures.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Fort Hood, TX, by relocating a Brigade Combat Team (BCT) and Unit of Employment (UEx) Headquarters to Fort Carson, CO. DoD's recommendation would relocate to Fort Carson, CO, a Heavy BCT that would be temporarily stationed at Fort Hood in FY06, and a Unit of Employment Headquarters. The Army was temporarily stationing this BCT to Fort Hood in FY06 due to operational necessity and to support current operational deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). However, based on the BRAC analysis, Fort Hood did not have sufficient facilities and available maneuver training acreage and ranges to support six permanent heavy BCTs and numerous other operational units stationed there. Fort Carson had sufficient capacity to support these units. The Army previously obtained approval from the Secretary of Defense to temporarily station a third BCT at Fort Carson in FY05. Due to Fort Carson’s capacity, the BRAC analysis indicated that the Army should permanently station this third BCT at Fort Carson. This relocation would never pay back because it involves the relocation of a newly activated unit. No permanent facilities existed to support the unit. DoD's review of community infrastructure attributes revealed no significant issues regarding the ability of the community to support forces, missions, and personnel. When moving activities from Fort Hood to Fort Carson, one attribute would improve (Population Center) and one (Education) would not be as robust.
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation was $435.8M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department of Defense during the implementation period would be a cost of $579.5M. Annual recurring costs to the Department after implementation would be $45.3M. This recommendation would never pay back. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a cost of $980.4M.
A New Source Review and permitting effort would be required at Fort Carson. To preserve archeological/cultural resources at Fort Carson, training restrictions might be imposed and increased operational delays and costs would be possible. Tribal consultations might be required. Further analysis would be required to determine the extent of new noise impacts at Fort Carson. Added operations might impact threatened and endangered species at Fort Carson and would result in further training restrictions. Distribution of potable water was severely restricted at Fort Carson. Increased missions at the installation might result in additional restrictions or mitigation requirements. Significant mitigation measures to limit releases might be required to reduce impacts to water quality and achieve US EPA water quality standards. This recommendation would require spending approximately $1.1M for environmental compliance costs. These costs were included in the payback calculation.