Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Carson wants more intense use of PCMS

Posted By on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 11:37 AM

click to enlarge PCMS is home to many species of wildlife. - RUSS DEFUSCO
  • Russ Defusco
  • PCMS is home to many species of wildlife.

The Army announced that it intends to intensify its use of Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site about 150 miles southeast of Fort Carson

The 235,000-acre training ground will be used for exercises involving emerging tactics, including drones, although the Army states in the announcement that it has no plans to use live fire rounds.

All of this means the Army has launched an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the environmental and other impacts on PCMS under the National Environmental Protection Act.

In today's announcement, the Army states: "The proposed action could have significant impacts to airspace, soil erosion, wildfire management, cultural resources, and water resources. Mitigation measures will be identified for adverse impacts."

To justify the heightened use of the site, the Army states this in the notice, filed today:

PCMS supports readiness training for units up to Brigade-size stationed at Fort Carson and for visiting Reserve and National Guard units. Training must fully integrate ground and air resources and reflect the modern battlefield environment for which Soldiers are preparing. The PCMS must accommodate training for current and emerging tactics and new equipment; provide training infrastructure, land and airspace within PCMS necessary to support training requirements; and support assigned and visiting units.

Advances in equipment and weapons systems, to include their incorporation into tactical units, dictate changes in how the Army trains, alterations to ranges (including range airspace) for maneuver training and doctrinal changes to accommodate mission-essential training prior to global deployments. PCMS must support training that incorporates these technological and doctrinal changes.

The proposed action would accommodate additional training tasks and equipment to enable training of current and future Fort Carson units. Additional tasks and equipment include unmanned aerial and ground systems, jamming systems, laser target sightings, non-explosive mortars up to 120 mm, and non-explosive aerial gunnery. Unmanned aerial systems would be reconnaissance systems, with no live-fire capability. 

The notice states that the "proposed action" does not require expansion of PCMS and "no additional land will be sought or acquired as a result of this action."

So while the Army essentially has given up on expanding the maneuver site after years of trying, now it wants to use it for more and varied types of training.

Two public meetings will be held in Trinidad and La Junta, but dates and times haven't been announced.

As we reported last June, Fort Carson soldiers caused a lot of damage during maneuvers in February 2013, so much so that the post sought and received an extra allocation of $1.3 million to repair ruts and other damage caused after a heavy snow blanketed the maneuver site during training. We're waiting to hear from Carson about whether that damage has been repaired and will report back when we hear.

Send comments to:
Fort Carson NEPA Program Manager
Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division
1626 Evans Street, Building 1219
Fort Carson, CO 80913-4362

Or call (719) 526-4666.

Comments may also be submitted via email to: usarmy.carson.imcom-central.list.dpw-ed-nepa@mail.mil.

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