In a letter delivered to Senator Ken Salazar’s Colorado Springs office Bentley Rayburn responded to Salazar’s Pinon Canyon position. Where is Doug Lamborn? He claims to have brought a Brigade to Fort Carson yet he is completely missing from this fight. The contents of the letter follow.
Dear Senator Salazar,
Over the past year I have had the opportunity to speak with you on a few occasions about the proposed Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion. I read with great interest a story in the Colorado Springs Gazette on Saturday, 26 Jul 08, (“Salazar sticks to opposing Piñon Canyon Expansion) outlining your opposition to further expansion of the training site. I know this is a passionate issue for both interested parties, the ranchers in southern Colorado and the United States Army. I’m well aware that the Army has made their own share of mistakes, but I also know that it is this is too important to the military training of our Fort Carson troops and the economic viability of southern Colorado for this issue to remain in limbo…
I agree with your comments that there needs to be a new relationship between the Army and the fine folks who live in southern Colorado. But the only way that is going to occur is to engage in conversation and develop a vision of what the range could be in providing real 21st Century training for U.S. forces. With Headquarters Space Command located in Colorado Springs, and a strong effort to bring the new Cyber Command headquarters to our state as well, we have an outstanding opportunity to create the finest training range in the world with a combined space, near-space and cyberspace tied into a world class fully-instrumented maneuver space. This vision will be the foundation of the economic development possibilities the range will bring to the communities of southern Colorado.
During my last assignment on active duty, as commander of the Air Force Doctrine Center, I worked with General Robert Mixon, the immediate past commander of Ft. Carson, and others regarding the future vision of the Army and what that meant to their training range requirements. It is clear to me that the Army needs expanded training space, not only due to larger number of troops stationed at Ft. Carson, but because of the technological advances that allow fewer troops to cover larger areas in combat operations. This is the same phenomenon that has occurred in air combat training. As the planes and radars and missiles got more sophisticated, the need to get further and further away becomes more critical to realistic training.
I’ve worked range issues before in a number of different places where I’ve been stationed. The issues at Piñon Canyon are not unique to issues we wrestle with all over the country. I would suggest that there are four parts to the solution and we should be working each one of these right now. First, we must fully develop the vision of what the range should look like in terms of capabilities. This will be the foundation for what the range will bring to the local area in terms of economic development. Second, there are ranchers who are willing and anxious to sell. While local political pressure might keep some from expressing their desire to sell, I’m sure there a quite a few ranchers who would love to sell, if given the opportunity. Third, I realize that there are ranchers who will never sell. This is not an insurmountable hurdle. Personally, I have never worked a military range that didn’t have some kind of operational restriction, usually right smack dab in the center of the range! The military takes care of such restrictions by writing the training scenario so as to preclude operating those areas. Lastly, it is our Cold War experience that gives us some possible avenues to examine what might really be a win-win for the ranchers and the Army. Starting in 1967 and running nearly continuously until after the Wall came down, our annual exercise, REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany), was designed to exercise our forces in the defense of Europe. When we deployed for this very large exercise, we did not have adequate training space for our maneuver forces. To answer this problem, we leased training room from German farmers using their land to make up for the lack of space. In doing so, the ground forces got the needed training and the German farmers were paid for the use of their land. Both parties benefitted. With creative leadership, a similar situation could be created in southern Colorado where the Army would lease land from local ranchers for training space. The ranchers could continue to raise cattle and maintain the ranching heritage, receiving good compensation while the Army would have the ability to train as they need. The two missions are definitely compatible.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with you and other interested stakeholders to find a solution acceptable to all parties. I’ve attached a position paper I wrote earlier outlining my thinking on the Piñon Canyon expansion.
BENTLEY B. RAYBURN
Major General, USAF (Retired)