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Study: Carson's future in smaller Army

Jan. 24, 2013 - 06:06PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 24, 2013 - 06:06PM  |  
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DENVER The Fort Carson region could gain up to 4,100 military and civilian jobs or lose up to 11,000 as the Army reduces its overall size, according to http://aec.army.mil/usaec/nepa/topics00.html">a study released Thursday.

With the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down, the Army expects to cut its troop strength by 72,000 by fiscal 2020 for a total of 490,000.

Fort Carson is one of 21 posts in the Army study that could be affected by the reductions or possible shifts of soldiers from one facility to another.

The job estimates include military personnel and civilians who work directly for the Army and others who work for companies whose business is generated by the Army's presence.

One scenario under study would eliminate eight combat brigade teams across the Army. Another scenario would eliminate more than that the number has not been determined but increase the size of the remaining brigades.

Fort Carson's troop strength would likely shrink under the first alternative and might grow under the second, but the exact numbers aren't known, said Army spokeswoman Cathy Kropp.

If Fort Carson lost 8,000 military and civilian jobs under the first alternative, the total job loss in the three counties could be nearly 11,000, the study says. If the post gained 3,000 jobs under the second alternative, the total gain in the counties could be about 4,000.

Fort Carson currently has four brigade combat teams with about 3,800 soldiers each. The total number of soldiers assigned to the post is about 26,000 including a hospital, a Special Forces group and other units.

The post also has about 5,800 civilian employees, said Maj. Earl Brown, a Fort Carson spokesman.

If Fort Carson loses a brigade, it would be partly offset by the new helicopter unit now being assembled at the post, said Andy Merritt of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

The 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, expected to be activated in April, will have up to 2,700 soldiers and 113 helicopters.

Merritt said community support for Fort Carson will be an important part of the region's pitch to the Army to keep all four brigade combat teams at Fort Carson.

"When you have kind of a tie-breaking decision (on which community should lose a brigade), if one is strongly supportive and has demonstrated that over time to the military, that's going to weigh into it," he said.

The study forecasts mostly predictable negative impacts on the environment, including air pollution and erosion, and increases in traffic if Fort Carson grows.

The public can comment on the study until Feb. 19.

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