Bentley Rayburn Replies to Ken Salazar’s Pinon Canyon Position

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.

Very sincerely,


Major General, USAF (Retired)

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. rwrgop says:

    While Rayburn’s opponents are squabbling about the definition of earmarks, dog fighting and wearing chicken suits, Bentley is actually working on real issues that matter to the 5th Congressional District.

    • Car 31 says:

      Rayburn’s letter is great.  

      The merry three of CD5 are Adam to me, but Rayburn’s thoughts are more effective than any of the actions I’ve seen thus far from the other two.

  2. Jambalaya says:

    …no matter how remote their chances of winning whatever it is they’re runnin’ for?  Or is this some sort of special treatment for Rayburn?

    • rwrgop says:

      he would “accept letters from all GOP primary candidates throughout the state” who know what they are talking about.  Clearly this is an issue that Rayburn has first hand experience in.

    • RedGreen says:

      I’d imagine he’d accept them, as he would from any constituent. Whether he reads them or pays them any attention is another question. But someone in his office will likely read it, as Rayburn has some expertise.

      It’d be funny if Bentley got a “Dear Fellow Coloradan, thank you for contacting Sen. Salazar with your input or question about the Pinon Beetles problem. Please enjoy this desk calendar featuring views of the Capitol and Washington Monument,” in reply.

      But how does Musgrave feel about a neighboring candidate, in a primary no less, inserting himself into a question she’s already working on, with positions contrary to Rayburn’s?

      • rwrgop says:

        with a good answer…I dont see any Republican leadership on this issue.  And, including many other issues, this is exactly why Rayburn is running for Congress.  Rather than just voting against Pelosi, we need someone with good ideas, good experience and good leadership to take the lead and solve problems like Pinon Canyon.

      • rwrgop says:

        Your Pinon Beetle comment is quite funny.  I received a letter like that once, I never got a calendar though, just a form letter with no relevance to the issue I was inquiring about.

    • Fidel's dirt nap says:

      Although I’d like to know your thoughts on Pinon Canyon in great detail, you are 3rd in a 3 man race and have no chance of winning, so your shit is going in the round file.

      NEXT !

  3. consider this... says:

    Well Lamborn has been able to recently show effective leadership and put language in the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), which has already passed the House, clearly allowing the Army to purchase from willing sellers…Don’t just believe me, read it yourself:

    “Sec. 2816 Protecting Private Property Rights During Department of Defense Land Acquisitions.

    (a) Protection of Private Property- The Secretary of Defense and teh Secretaries of the military departments shall make every reasonable effort to acquire real property expeditiously by negotiation.  Real property shall meet the requirements of the Secretary-approved real property acquisition plans.

    (b) Willing Sellers- The Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department shall not be precluded from acquiring real property from willing sellers so long as the real property offered meet the requirements of Secretary-approved real property acquisition.”

    Not sure what Rayburn thinks, but the language of his letter would not have the effect that Lamborn’s would should it be signed into law if it passes the Senate.

  4. mcollins says:

    Lamborn seems to have demonstrated some creative leadership, as Rayburn calls for in his letter, on this issue…

    check out the release

    now there will have to be some serious conversations

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