Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Service before self

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Cadet 1st Class Broam Hart helps move logs in order to prevent flooding after the Waldo Canyon fire in June, 2013. Hart is one of thousands of cadets who participate in a variety of volunteer work locally while at the academy. - COURTESY USAFA
  • Courtesy USAFA
  • Cadet 1st Class Broam Hart helps move logs in order to prevent flooding after the Waldo Canyon fire in June, 2013. Hart is one of thousands of cadets who participate in a variety of volunteer work locally while at the academy.

The Air Force motto is integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.

So to address the second part of that adage, about 3,500 Air Force Academy cadets will fan out over the region on Friday to perform volunteer work for 48 organizations along the Front Range, the academy said in a news release.

Here's the details:
Worksites for cadets will range in location from Peyton to Florissant, and from Monument to Widefield. Start times vary depending on the distance the work location is from the Air Force Academy, with cadets arriving at most El Paso County sites by 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. for other locations. Work will continue until 4 p.m., or until the work at each site is completed, unless otherwise noted.
Organizations the cadets will be working for include:
* American Red Cross, Southeastern Colorado Chapter, for its one-day Home Fire Campaign event, sending teams of cadets and other volunteers door-to-door to test, repair and install fire alarms at homes in El Paso, Douglas, Chaffee, Teller, Pueblo and Otero counties.
* Black Forest Together, helping with fire recovery and mitigation work at several homes within the area affected by the Black Forest wildfire.
* Coalition for the Upper South Platte, thinning overgrown trees and brush near Woodland Park to be used as firewood for the needy, as well as trail maintenance at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for both events.
* City of Manitou Springs, removing debris from Fountain Creek and Williams Canyon to aid the city's continuing flood recovery and mitigation efforts.
* City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department, building a hiking trail at Ute Valley Park; clearing and maintaining Promonitory Point Open Space, and working at two other sites.
* National Dog Mill Rescue kennels in Peyton to clean, prep the kennel play yards for artificial turn, make blankets for adopted dogs, as well as socializing and walking some severely traumatized dogs.
* The Salvation Army in downtown Colorado Springs, cleaning and painting its Winter Warming Shelter, performing upkeep on its mobile canteen that provides meals to the homeless, and performing labor and setup for a senior citizens lunch.
Other organizations the cadets will work with include: Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Venetucci Farm, The Marian House, Rocky Mountain Veterans Village Foundation, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Partnership for Child Development, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Flying W Ranch, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, Al Kali Shriners Mule Team, and several elementary and middle schools across the region.

This cadet volunteer work is organized by the Air Force Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development center, via its Cadet Service Leadership program, which connects community organizations with cadet volunteers. Cadets performed more than 30,000 hours of community service during the 2013-2014 academic year. Academy cadets have averaged more than 30,000 hours of community service work each academic year, for the past decade.
Organizations that wish to request cadet volunteers for future community service efforts can request cadet volunteers online at: 

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DATE CHANGE: County wants your input on AFA trail closures

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 12:14 PM


Here's the rest of the information from the county:

Community Meeting on Use of New Santa Fe Regional Trail Has Been Rescheduled to October 5

Interested Trail Users Encouraged to Attend

El Paso County, CO, September 23, 2015 – The community meeting on the New Santa Fe Regional Trail which was originally scheduled for September 28, 2015 has been moved to October 5, 2015.

El Paso County Parks is hosting the meeting to discuss public use of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy. Interested residents are encouraged to attend the meeting on Monday, October 5, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at Academy International Elementary School, 8550 Charity Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

El Paso County has had an easement for the seven mile section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy since 1989. The trail section has been closed to general public use since May, 2015 due to an increased threat assessment by the US Northern Command.

El Paso County and the Air Force Academy have been in discussions regarding public access to the trail and an update on those talks will be provided. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input on the future use of the trail.

For further information, please contact County Parks at 520-7529.

——- ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 15, 1:32 P.M. ——-


If you enjoy long bike rides or hikes along the Santa Fe/Pikes Peak Greenway Trail, than you've likely encountered the on-again-off-again trail closures at the Air Force Academy.

Apparently due to security concerns, the AFA closes the trail frequently, ticking off trail users. Well, it looks like the county may want to do something about that. There's a public meeting coming up on September 28 in which El Paso County Parks will take input from citizens on the closures. (We assume screaming and cussing are discouraged.)

The county has had an easement on the AFA section of the trail since 1989, so it's possible that they may be able to keep the trail open. Or at least keep it open more often.

Here are the details:

Community Invited to Meeting on Use of New Santa Fe Trail Through U.S. Air Force Academy

Public May Provide Input on Future Trail Use

El Paso County, CO, September 14, 2015 – El Paso County Parks will host a community meeting to discuss the public use of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through Air Force Academy property.

The meeting will be Monday, September 28, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Offices, 4255 Sinton Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907.

El Paso County has had an easement for the seven mile section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy since 1989. The trail section has been closed for general public use by the Air Force Academy since May, 2015 due to security concerns.

El Paso County and USAFA have been in discussions regarding public access to the trail and an update on those talks will be provided. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input on the future use of the trail.

For further information, please contact County Parks at 520-7529.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

UPDATE: Weinstein makes new demand of the Air Force Academy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 4:42 PM

UPDATE: The Air Force Academy spokesman says the school will not comment on Weinstein's demand.

———————ORIGINAL POST 4:42 PM WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2015 ———————————————————-

Mikey Weinstein, the crusader against religious bias in the armed forces, will ask the Air Force Academy to remove the words "in the year of our Lord" from diplomas for the class of 2016, which graduates in May, he tells the Independent.

Because, he says, "We all know whose lord that is; it's a special seal of approval."
Weinstein: Wants the USAFA diploma changed. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Weinstein: Wants the USAFA diploma changed.
The request comes not from Weinstein himself, but rather from a small group at the academy calling themselves The Spartacus Group, which pretends to be fundamentalist Christian to find a more hassle-free pathway through the academy, where favoritism of Christians is well-documented over the past dozen years.

Weinstein sat down with the Indy on Wednesday at the, well, we're not going to tell you, because the 1977 academy grad lives in a world of high security due to a constant stream of threats of violence against him and his family. His wife, Bonnie, wrote a book about all that. He's had the windows of his house in New Mexico shot out twice, slaughtered animals left on his door step, swastikas painted on his house, and death threats too numerous to count over the years. He's been called everything, to include a liberal, commie, satan-loving, atheist, gay activist. For the record, he's Jewish and prays in Hebrew three times a day, he says.

He stopped in Colorado Springs on his way to a family event somewhere else in Colorado, and we'll leave it at that.

Weinstein, 11 years after establishing the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reports his organization now has 42,345 clients, 402 of them at the Air Force Academy. Most are Christians.
Spartacus, he says, contacted him to request he make the case on the diploma issue. This issue arose at Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas, a Presbyterian school, in 2010 when Muslim students petitioned to have it removed. We're checking on how the request was resolved and will update when we learn more.

Anyway, Weinstein says this group of cadets realizes that "in the year of our Lord" is a traditional phrase, but then, so was "Bring Me Men" over the terrazzo until the Air Force made the academy replace those words in 2004 amid the sexual assault scandal with the Air Force motto: "Integrity First. Service Before Self. Excellence In All We Do."

We've asked the academy for a comment on Weinstein's request, which has yet to be submitted, and will update if and when we hear something.

Meantime, Weinstein says the academy continues to be a cauldron of religious influence, with "para-churches" still active through the academy's SPIRE program (Special Programs in Religious Education). These include Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry, the Navigators and the Officers of Christian Fellowship, he says.

He also says it wasn't long ago that an academy staffer wrote 1+3=4 on the classroom board, explaining to cadets that one savior, plus three nails equals forgiveness. Another staffer put a big red heart on a classroom board this past Valentine's Day with the words, "Jesus Loves You," he says.

"There's a deafening silence from Michelle Johnson," Weinstein says, referring to the lieutenant general who currently serves as superintendent.

Although Johnson, he says, claims to have made a commitment to diversity and mandates training in religious sensitivity, then why does the diploma still carry this phrase, which some see as offensive or not reflective of their belief system?

Because, he continues, the academy is a hotbed of "fundamentalist Christian fascism and totalitarian oppression and tyranny."

"Fish in an aquarium never see the water," he says.

Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent at the U.S. Military Academy, on the other hand, has been responsive to MRFF's concerns, Weinstein reports, despite Caslen himself being an evangelical Christian. "He realizes there's a time, place and manner to follow the 'great commission,'" he says, referring to the New Testament directive to go and make disciples of all nations.

"We haven't had a single issue, because he understands this," Weinstein says.

Before dashing off to return dozens of phone calls and emails, Weinstein's parting shot is a quote of Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, who said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

He adds, "As long as I breathe, my goal is to be the demander to the commander."

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Carson graduates Rangers, including a woman

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 10:49 AM

Women everywhere should cheer the fact that on Friday a female Fort Carson soldier joined three others from the Mountain Post in the graduation from U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Carson says in a news release.

Haver: Achieving excellence in a man's world. - COURTESY FORT CARSON
  • Courtesy Fort Carson
  • Haver: Achieving excellence in a man's world.
First Lt. Shaye Haver, a helicopter pilot, made the grade through the grueling training from which no females have graduated until now. Capt. Kristen Griest also graduated. Both are West Point grads. Griest was the distinguished honor graduate in a pre-Ranger School course run by her unit, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, last December, the Washington Post reports. 

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Four Fort Carson Soldiers, to include one of the first female Soldiers, graduated the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Friday.

First Lt. Shaye L. Haver, an AH-64 Apache pilot, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and another female officer were the first women to graduate from Ranger School out of 400 soldiers, including 20 women that were selected for Ranger School April 19. It was the first Ranger class in Army history to include female candidates.

Haver is a 2012 West Point Academy graduate from Texas and a platoon leader of Company D, 1st ARB. She has been in the Army for more than three years.

"We are extremely proud of Lt. Haver's distinguished accomplishment as one of the first female Ranger School graduates." said Col. Lori Robinson, commander, 4th CAB. "Her dedication and determination in completing the course served as a tremendous example for all Soldiers and leaders in 4th CAB, 4th Inf. Div., and the Army. The skills she has learned
will enhance her capabilities as an Army Aviator and tactical Leader in the Army."

"On behalf of the entire 1-4 ARB, 4th CAB, and the Ironhorse Division, we congratulate Lt. Haver on graduating Ranger school and helping to pave the way for our female service members as a result of this magnificent milestone," said Lt. Col. Stephen Gilbertson, commander, 1st ARB. "Lt. Haver demonstrated outstanding dedication, perseverance, and physical toughness through this arduous process. We are extremely proud of her accomplishment, her ability to break barriers, and we look forward to her returning to our team and resuming her platoon leader position in the near future."

Other Fort Carson graduates were Staff Sgt. Michael C. Calderon, who was the William O. Darby Distinguished Honor Graduate which is awarded to the Ranger that shows the best tactical and administrative leadership performance, has the most positive spot reports and has demonstrated being a cut above the rest. The recipient must also pass all graded leadership positions, peer reports, and may not recycle. The award is named in the honor of Brig. Gen. William O. Darby, who organized the 1st Ranger Battalion in 1942 with handpicked volunteers leading the way onto the beaches of North Africa. Calderon is a Menifee, California, native and is assigned as an infantryman to 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div. He has been in the Army for more than five years.

Sgt. 1st Class Cyril L. Komanecky II is a native of Dekalb, Illinois, and has been in the Army for more than 11 years. He is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., as an infantryman. Spc. Logan A. Williams is a native of Leesburg, Virginia, and has been in the Army for more than 2 years. He is assigned to 2nd IBCT, 4th Inf. Div. as infantrymen.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Haggman's medical license suspended in Washington State

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 9:02 AM


My story
 on Dr. John Henry Hagmann details accusations against him for mistreatment of military members that shocked the conscience. Some of the alleged abuse took place in Colorado.

At the time I wrote the story, Hagmann's medical license had been revoked in Virginia. After the Independent's deadline, The Seattle Times reported that Hagmann's medical license was also suspended in Washington

According to the Times report, "The Washington suspension is based on a June decision by the Virginia Board of Medicine to revoke Hagmann’s license in that state."
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Army redefines the word slow

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 10:20 AM

Back in September 2013, almost two years ago, we requested information through the Freedom of Information Act regarding who has been banned from Fort Carson dating back to 2008.
Alvarez, left, and Pogany are still fighting the Army with a federal lawsuit. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Alvarez, left, and Pogany are still fighting the Army with a federal lawsuit.
This request stemmed from a story about two vets who were banned from Carson after helping soldiers gain the proper treatment for service-related medical needs at a time when the Army was ousting troops using infractions that might have been related to their medical problems stemming from combat. For example, a soldier might get a DUI that stems from his inability to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

A thorough examination of this phenomenon by reporter Dave Philipps in 2013 resulted in his winning a Pulitzer Prize.

In May 2014 we reported on a lawsuit filed by soldier advocates Robert Alvarez and Georg-Andreas Pogany, who were banned from Fort Carson in what they allege was blowback for their advocacy. They had filed a lawsuit against five officers charging that the ban violates their constitutional rights to free speech, due process and access to courts. That lawsuit is pending.

We wanted to find out what other people had been banned and for what reason; hence, the FOIA request.

While the government found 614 records responsive to the request, none is being released. Here's the Army's letter of denial.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Carson takes part in NORAD drill

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 11:03 AM

The scene at the NORAD entrance in Cheyenne Mountain on July 15. - U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY SENIOR AIRMAN TIFFANY DENAULT
  • U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault
  • The scene at the NORAD entrance in Cheyenne Mountain on July 15.

Something is afoot with the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

What makes us think so? First, the government approved a $700 million contract with Raytheon recently to provide communications inside Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, where NORAD and NorthCom have "warm standby" operations after moving headquarters about eight or nine years ago to Peterson Air Force Base.
(In the news release below, the official status of the mountain bunker is called an Alternate Command Center.)

Now, we learn that Fort Carson and Peterson forces participated in an exercise last week with the Cheyenne Mountain station. Maybe this has been going on for awhile, but it's the first we've heard of such a drill.

This release comes from the 21st Space Wing's public affairs section: 
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. — Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, respond to an exercise at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station with Strykers and Humvees July 15.

Existing support agreements ensure support between 21st Space Wing assets and Fort Carson during real world situations. The blocking force exercise tested the ability of Fort Carson and CMAFS to execute a joint mission, manage resources, stewardship of manpower and equipment readiness.

Owned and operated by the 21st SW on Peterson Air Force Base, CMAFS is designated as the Alternate Command Center, the primary being at North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command also located on Peterson AFB.

"The exercise demonstrates our joint commitment to protect the strategic missions of national significance in continuous operations at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station," said Col. Gary Cornn, 721st Mission Support Group and installation commander. "This is an important exercise showing the capability of Fort Carson's response if there is an increased threat."

The 4th ID, 1SBCT responded to provide a physical blocking force on key avenues of approach to CMAFS. In the event of a real world situation, the vehicles and personnel from Fort Carson would also be used for extra firepower, medical support, engineering and logistical support.

Strykers are eight-wheeled combat vehicles that are road legal and able to deploy immediately on and off road. The vehicles are capable of executing an array of missions and scenarios; more so than any other vehicle in the Department of Defense, said Maj. Kevin Boyd, 4th ID, 1SBCT public affairs officer. The Strykers give the 4th ID unique capabilities other Fort Carson units do not have.

"Working together in this joint security exercise was valuable for us as we worked the 759th Military Police Battalion from Fort Carson to open a closed gate to facilitate our movement up the mountain, and with the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station security forces to conduct link-up and support their security posture," said Boyd. "For our Soldiers it is important to know our neighbors and how we can conduct mutual aid for them to understand exactly what is needed and where to respond in a time of crisis cuts down our response time and enables us to bring the proper equipment."

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

UPDATE: Only 365 troops cut from Fort Carson

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 10:52 AM

A helicopter is on display at an entrance to Fort Carson. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A helicopter is on display at an entrance to Fort Carson.
UPDATE:  Mayor John Suthers has issued a statement regarding the cuts at Fort Carson

"The Pentagon’s announcement this morning regarding minimal troop reductions at Ft. Carson is good news for Colorado Springs and is an indication of the importance of Ft. Carson in the overall defense mission. It also reflects positively on the case Colorado Springs has made on behalf of Ft. Carson," he says in the statement.

"However, we have to remain vigilant as there will likely be another round of proposed reductions next year and we must continue to make the case for maintaining troops levels here in the future."

Here's the outline of cuts and gains by Fort Carson in the force reduction maneuver of the Department of Defense.

———————————————ORIGINAL POST 10:52 a.m. WED., JULY 9, 2015———————————————————

There might not be dancing in the streets, but you can be assured some are celebrating an announcement on military force reduction that will result in Fort Carson losing only 365 troops.

It's almost too good to be true, considering the cut could have eliminated up to 16,000 troops, or about two-thirds of those stationed at the Mountain Post.
Andy Merritt, with the Regional Business Alliance, says those cuts come in small units, and some of those will be offset by gains in others.

"We are very happy," he says in an interview. He adds the cut might not be the smallest across the country, with some bases losing 200 soldiers, but it could be the smallest percentage loss.

Considering some bases are losing entire brigade combat teams of 2,000 to 3,000 troops, "We've come out very, very well," Merritt says. "It's a strong statement of the value of Fort Carson and the support this community gives."

Merritt estimated the economic impact of the loss of 365 soldiers at about $25 million. "So it's not a large number," he says. "Obviously, every job counts. But it's over a two-year period. Our economy has the ability to absorb this."

Merritt says he hasn't seen any job loss numbers for civilian positions but thinks Carson will fare well on that as well.

Sen. Michael Bennet issued this release this morning in reaction to the cutback announcement:
We don’t want any cuts to Fort Carson. However, in light of the scope of today’s announcement, it is clear the Pentagon recognizes the strategic importance of Fort Carson and its missions, the critical role troops stationed there serve in protecting our national security, and all that Colorado offers our service members and their families. We commend the state and local communities for working together during this process to successfully emphasize those points to the Department of Defense.

Our office will continue to support efforts in Colorado Springs and throughout the state to further enhance the vital relationship between Colorado and our armed services. We will also continue to fight to replace the sequester, which is bad policy that could make these reductions worse and result in indiscriminate cuts to the Department of Defense and throughout the federal government.

As reductions are made, the Pentagon should provide service members with any resources needed for transition. Colorado’s communities stand ready to provide support for service members and their families.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

USAFA chief lauded by DAR

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 4:35 PM

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson received an award from the DAR President General Lynn Young. - COURTESY AIR FORCE ACADEMY
  • Courtesy Air Force Academy
  • Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson received an award from the DAR President General Lynn Young.
Who was Molly Corbin? She manned her husband's cannon when he was killed in the Battle of Fort Washington in 1775.

So to be honored with an award named for such a hero is worth noting.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, received the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution last weekend in Washington, D.C.

More from an academy release:

General Johnson was the keynote speaker and one of several individuals honored by the DAR for their contributions to the nation's defense during DAR's National Defense Night as part of its 124th Continental Congress.

The Corbin Award honors the memory of Revolutionary War heroine Molly Corbin, who stepped up to man her husband's cannon when he was mortally wounded in the Battle of Fort Washington in 1775. She became the
first woman pensioner of the United States military in 1779.

The award pays tribute to women in all branches of the military for distinguished military service. General Johnson is the first woman to lead a Department of Defense service academy. She has also held numerous command and operational assignments since graduating from the Academy in 1981.

"It is a tremendous honor to receive the Corbin Award from the Daughters of the American revolution," said General Johnson. "Molly Corbin was one of our country's first warrior heroes, and the DAR has helped preserve her memory and valor with this award. I seek to uphold the honored legacy of American heroes like Molly Corbin."

National Defense Night also included awards to several other individuals, including retired Col. Lee Ellis, a former POW and author who spoke at the Academy's 2013 National Character and Leadership Symposium; Diane Carlson Evans, president of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation; and J.R. Martinez, actor, author, motivational speaker, spokesperson and former U.S. Army soldier who served in Iraq in 2003.

The DAR is an active and vibrant women's service organization focused on promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. DAR's Continental Congress is a time-honored tradition held in the nation's capital as its annual national membership meeting, and drew 3,500 attendees this year.

The DAR has been a supporter of the Air Force Academy for many years, and sponsors annual academic awards to the top cadets majoring in History and Mechanical Engineering.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Homeland defense mission scrubbed

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM

Soldiers' well-being is the focus of a local foundation that used to zero in on national security and defense issues. - MARK LEWIS
  • Mark Lewis
  • Soldiers' well-being is the focus of a local foundation that used to zero in on national security and defense issues.
Three years after terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, locals saw an opportunity. With financial backing from the El Pomar Foundation, the National Homeland Defense Foundation was created in 2004, based in Colorado Springs.

The foundation was envisioned as a professional and trade organization for national security specialists and issues, and it hosted an annual National Symposium on Homeland Security and Defense staged at The Broadmoor.

Well, forget all that. Now, the group has repurposed itself into a completely different outfit called Peak Military Care Network, which will provide services in support of soldiers and airmen and veterans. Those include advocacy, behavioral health, crisis intervention, workforce readiness and employment, reintegration, substance abuse, domestic violence, education and so on.

This means it will abandon the homeland security aspect, says Rebecca Tonn with Blakely + Co., which issued a news release as follows, on behalf of the newly named organization:
Established in 2004, the National Homeland Defense Foundation was formed as a non-partisan, nonprofit forum for the United States’ response to the presence of terrorist threats.

Since its inception, NHDF has provided a public forum for the discussion and presentation of various homeland defense and security issues and solutions. The Foundation also hosted the annual National Symposium on Homeland Security and Defense for United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) for nearly a decade, as well as supported educational events, including the National Security Innovation Competition and Thought Leadership Conference.

In 2012, NHDF expanded its services and changed its mission to include a broader scope of work and provide support for defenders of the homeland – military veterans and first responders.

As part of that new mission, NHDF reached an agreement with Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments to establish and operate Peak Military Care Network, which provides services to and partners with other agencies to meet the holistic care needs of military members, veterans and families in the Pikes Peak region.

Since then, supporting Peak Military Care Network activities has become the focal point of the organization. To reflect that transition, NHDF’s Board of Directors decided to change NHDF’s name to Peak Military Care Network (PMCN).

“NHDF has contributed greatly to Homeland Security matters over the last decade, with lasting impacts to the nation,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson, former President of NHDF and Chair of the PMCN Board of Directors.

“The NHDF/PMCN Board sees addressing the needs of our military, veteran and first-responder community as a critical focus moving forward. By changing our name to the Peak Military Care Network, we will be able to concentrate our identity and efforts on the collaborative and coordinating work of PMCN in order to serve our homeland defenders and their families.”

At least one in four residents of the Pikes Peak region is a former or current member of the military, making the area home to one of the highest concentrations of service members in the nation.

PMCN connects the needs of the community’s military service members, veterans and their families to the highest-quality resources by providing a central source for information, navigation and integrated services.

In turn, PMCN’s partner agencies are committed to understanding military and veteran culture and the unique challenges faced by service members, veterans and their families, working together to meet the needs of individuals and families to provide support for the military and veteran community.

About Peak Military Care Network
Peak Military Care Network supports collaboration among community, military and veteran service providers to assist those providers and service members, veterans, and their families in identifying resources and streamlining access to services to meet their needs. Connecting individuals and families to information and the highest quality resources, PMCN facilitates seamless transitions between service providers by providing a central source for information, navigation, and integrated services.

PMCN and its partner agencies offer a broad range of information and assistance to support the whole individual and family, including advocacy, behavioral health, child welfare and family support, crisis intervention, education, employment and workforce readiness, medical and physical health, social services, and transition and reintegration.

In addition, PMCN provides training and information-sharing opportunities to partner agencies to ensure community-based agencies understand the unique needs of the military and veteran community and are aware of available resources (including military and VA services) to keep individuals and families out of crisis and improve health and well-being.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Few AFA graduation tickets available

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 12:39 PM

  • Courtesy U.S. Air Force Academy

If you want to see this year's Air Force Academy graduation ceremony, you'd better move quickly. Only 600 tickets will be available. Here are the details from a news release: 
Approximately 600 free, reserved-seat tickets for the Academy's Class of 2015 Graduation Ceremony will be available Thursday. Tickets must be picked up by the general public in person at:

* The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance offices at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 430, in downtown Colorado Springs, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
* The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce offices at 166 Second Street in Monument, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Department of Defense ID card holders may also pick up tickets at the Air Force Academy's Athletic Ticket Office, at the Cadet Field House, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. These ticket locations will be open Monday through Friday, except for Memorial Day.

A maximum of six tickets per person are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets cannot be mailed and there is no will-call at the stadium. Lost tickets cannot be replaced.

Because of increased security measures, individuals picking up tickets in Colorado Springs or Monument will need to provide the following information:

* First and Last Name,
* Date of Birth,
* Driver's License Number and which state the Driver's License was issued in.

Only the person picking up the tickets needs to provide this information. If that individual has a current DoD ID card, they will not need to provide additional information.

The Air Force Academy's Graduation Ceremony is May 28, beginning at 9:30 a.m., in Falcon Stadium and will include a commencement speech by the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James. The ceremony will conclude with an aerial performance by the Air Force Thunderbirds, weather permitting.

Falcon Stadium gates will open at 7 a.m. on May 28. Due to increased security requirements, please ensure you arrive very early as traffic coming on base will be heavy and there may be long lines at the Stadium. All visitors should be prepared to show valid identification, vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance. Vehicles may be inspected upon entry. If Force Protection Conditions change, some scheduled events may also change or require additional security precautions for the safety of all our guests. Any event changes will be announced via local media and the Academies official Facebook page.

If the graduation ceremony is moved indoors due to dangerous weather or security reasons, general public and staff ticket holders will not be able to attend. If the ceremony is moved, notification will go out by May 28 at 7 a.m., via local media and the Academies official Facebook page.

For more information on the Air Force Academy Graduation, visit or e-mail
This year's featured speaker will be Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force. 

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Friday, May 8, 2015

USAFA steps up security

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 11:48 AM

The Air Force Academy just issued a release stating that nobody will be allowed on the academy's grounds unless they have a Department of Defense ID, although visitors "may be escorted onto base by DoD ID cardholders."

The release states the action comes "in accordance with a Northern Command directive."

Without explaining why, NorthCom spokeswoman Army Maj. Beth Smith tells the Independent that NorthCom did raise the force protection level Thursday night from Alpha to Bravo, which she termed "the new normal."

Bravo is the highest security level directive NorthCom has given in its 13-year history. The command was created the year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
A Joint Task Force Carson rifle team fires a 21-gun salute during a memorial ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Army photo) - SGT. ERIC GLASSEY
  • Sgt. Eric Glassey
  • A Joint Task Force Carson rifle team fires a 21-gun salute during a memorial ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Army photo)

"We did raise the force protection from Alpha to Bravo last night," Smith says in an interview. "No specific reasons, but more along the lines of we consider this to be the new normal. It was just a prudent measure to mitigate threats that could occur against people, assets, resources or infrastructure."

She said the change in security level has nothing to do with the recent revelation that communications of the bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command would be moved from Peterson Air Force Base back to the Cheyenne Mountain Air Fort Station, commonly called Cheyenne Mountain. The command was moved to Peterson in 2006-07, but recent concerns about Peterson's lack of resistance to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) could cause military communications to crash. Cheyenne Mountain is resistant to EMP.

There are four threat levels: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. NorthCom has never given a directive higher than Bravo, Smith said.

Here's the academy's news release:
In accordance with a NORTHCOM Directive, the United States Air Force Academy has increased security measures. Until further notice, the base is closed to all non-DoD ID cardholders. Visitors may be escorted onto base by DoD ID cardholders. Visitor access for official events will be permitted on a case-by-case basis.

Please monitor the USAFA Facebook page and website for more information on future events scheduled to be held at the Academy. Additionally, DoD ID cardholders can anticipate delays when entering the installation, and there may be traffic back-ups near both of the Academy's North and South Gates. As a matter of DoD policy, we do not discuss specific security measures. However, these measures are in place to ensure the safety and security of USAFA personnel, cadets, and assets.

USAFA leadership asks the public and military personnel to remain vigilant and if you see or hear anything suspicious, please contact Security Forces at (719) 333-2000.
As for how visitors will be handled at the upcoming academy graduation, academy spokesman Meade Warthen says via email: "As you can imagine, the situation is very fluid right at the moment. We'll be issuing updates on access as we get closer to graduation."

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Army to head for PCMS training ground

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2015 at 4:50 PM

A Stryker vehicle maneuvers during training at National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Ca., last summer. - SPC. RANDIS MONROE
  • Spc. Randis Monroe
  • A Stryker vehicle maneuvers during training at National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Ca., last summer.
Later this month, if you drive Interstate 25, you might see a convoy heading for the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site for exercises. It will be hard to miss, because about 600 vehicles — 300 of them Stryker armored vehicles — will form a train from Fort Carson.

According to a news release, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and some associate units will be in the convoy May 26 to May 30. The exercise will last two weeks and is called Operation Raider Focus.

The post has coordinated with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Police and local law enforcement and municipal agencies, the news release said.

More from the release:
Convoys will consist of no more than 30 vehicles per group, and 30-minute spacing is planned between each convoy. Convoys will travel at 40 miles per hour and utilize two routes.

Convoys will travel on Interstate Highway 25, U.S. Highway 160, U.S. Highway 350, State Highway 115, U.S. Highway 50, U.S. Highway 87, State Highway 167, and State Highway 10. Due to the increase in vehicle traffic and slow speed of the convoys travelers may experience delays.

No travel will occur on I-25 through Pueblo during the hours of 7 - 9 a.m. and 4 - 6 p.m., which is during peak rush hour time periods.

Increased dust and noise levels from this exercise can be expected during this time period, due to training and vehicle traffic throughout the training area. The training includes day and night blank-fire exercises incorporating aircraft and military members from the Army and Air Force.

The purpose of Raider Focus is to prepare Soldiers for any possible mission should the unit be called to support any contingency around the globe. During the exercise, crews will engage simulated targets using different scenarios to build team cohesion and ensure they are proficient in their skills. The unit will redeploy to Fort Carson in mid-June.

Noise complaints should be directed to the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office at (719) 526-9849.
The PCMS has been controversial with surrounding landowners concerned about over-use of the grasslands.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fort Carson bans 139 people from entering

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 5:35 PM

A statue of the Indian fighter Kit Carson stands at the entryway to Fort Carson. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A statue of the Indian fighter Kit Carson stands at the entryway to Fort Carson.
More than 100 people have failed the background check to get into Fort Carson, according to data provided by the post in response to the Independent's inquiry.

In fact, 139 of the 3,334 people checked from Jan. 5 to March 31 flunked the verification with the FBI's National Crime Information Center. The post couldn't say if those 139 are contractor employees, visitors or vendors. Only 10 have been given waivers so they can have access passes, the post says via email.

So come Friday, there might be some employees who don't show up for work. No matter, Carson says the checks are necessary to secure "the safety and security of our Fort Carson family, as well as the visitors to our installation."

"These measures will deter criminal elements from gaining access to our installation," the email said, "which could potentially put our community members at risk."

Here's the news release sent out Monday reminding people of the practice of checking anyone out before they're admitted to the post.
Fort Carson implements new access control policies and procedures Friday, as directed by the Secretary of the Army. All visitors without a federal or DOD identification card (ID) entering the installation will be affected by the new changes.

Visitors, without a federal or DOD ID requesting one-day access to the installation will need to report to the Visitor Control Center (VCC), located at Building 6012 at Gate 1, with a valid state or federally issued photo ID (driver’s license if driving), vehicle registration and proof of insurance (if applicable). All personnel must have a valid reason for accessing the installation.

Members of the golf course or on a bowling league who do not have the proper identification must work through the respective management of those establishments to have the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sign the Fort Carson Form 2036 (Request for Fort Carson Access Control Card).

The Form 2036 must be digitally signed with a Common Access Card by a military sponsor, not hand signed. For organizations on post, such as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Defense Commissary Agency that don’t have CAC cards, provisions have been made in advance with these organizations to obtain passes for those who need them.

Visitors requesting unescorted access will be required to undergo a FBI National Crime Information Center III (NCIC) check prior to accessing the installation. Visitors with issues such as an outstanding arrest warrant, recent felony conviction or are listed on the Terrorist Screening database will not be allowed access and, if appropriate, will be turned over to legal authorities.

Visitors who are receiving a Fort Carson access pass may not escort other non-DOD ID cardholders onto the installation. Each visitor in the vehicle must go through the NCIC check to gain access.

The NCIC check helps law enforcement officers apprehend fugitives, locate missing persons, recover stolen property and identify terrorists. It also assists law enforcement officers in performing their official duties more safely and provides them with information necessary to aid in protecting the general public.

The VCC is open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors requesting access outside the VCC hours must go to Gate 3 off of Academy Blvd. to request a pass. Questions may be directed to the VCC at (719) 526-2332 or the Security and Access Control Office at (719) 526-5543.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NORAD returns to Cheyenne Mountain bunker, sorta

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 1:13 PM

NORAD will move some of its assets back into the mountain, which was placed on "warm stand by" about eight years ago. Everything old is new again? - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • NORAD will move some of its assets back into the mountain, which was placed on "warm stand by" about eight years ago. Everything old is new again?

Ever since a contract with Raytheon was announced last week, stories have been coming out about the return of the North American Aerospace Defense Command inside the Cold War bunker built for it in the 1960s.

NORAD moved operations out of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station seven or eight years ago, under the command of Adm. Timothy Keating at the time. Keating came under scrutiny, because he made claims the move would save money, and others disagreed.

The Independent wrote about the issue several times back then, as did I when I was at the Gazette at that time. The big hubbub was over Peterson Air Force Base's vulnerability to electromagnetic pulse disruptions, which is now the very reason communications are being moved back into the mountain. Go figure.

Back in 2006 and 2007, I obtained a classified report that raised serious questions about that and other vulnerabilities at Peterson, which sits next to Colorado Springs Airport's runways.

As recently as 2011, the government was investing money in the mountain.

Here's one finding by the Government Accountability Office from 2008: "The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense ... reevaluate the full spectrum of security vulnerabilities associated with moving the NORAD Command Center and related functions from Cheyenne Mountain to Peterson Air Force Base."

All of which sent me back to my files and the piles of reports from nine years ago, the upshot of which were concerns over the security of Peterson. Well, now we know there must have been issues, considering the government has signed a contract with Raytheon for $700 million to upgrade communications inside the mountain.

Whatever happened to that guy, Keating, anyway? Turns out he retired with his military pension in 2009.

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