I imagine that a good number of Fort Carson personnel live in the Pueblo area. Many shop and eat and party there. Some may choose it as a retirement spot. That means Pueblo and Colorado Springs, those famously feuding cities, would seem to share a common interest in keeping the Mountain Post off future base closure lists, by supporting efforts to ensure it remains a viable training facility. So what, other than a belly full of anti-Colorado Springs bile, explains The Pueblo Chieftain editorial page's continuing efforts to cheer on the forces seeking to permanently slam the door on future expansion of the Pinon Canyon training site?
Colorado Springs and El Paso County obviously reap the greatest direct economic benefit from Fort Carson. But Pueblo, as close as it is, must also look at the base as an economic engine of importance -- not to mention a military asset of continuing value to the entire country. But the Chieftain, acting it seems out of blind spite for anything that might benefit Colorado Springs, has thrown in with those in Southern Colorado who began by expressing legitimate fears about the Army's use of eminent domain, but who have since adopted an angry, take-no-prisoners attitude, adamantly opposed to Pinon Canyon expansion under any circumstances.
The latest lashing-out at the U.S. Army wasn't a bill designed to restrict the use of eminent domain, but one aimed at blocking the state of Colorado from selling or leasing land to Fort Carson in the event that it had private parties willing to sell Fort Carson more acreage. That's a radical shift of emphasis from the issues that sparked this controversy, as the Denver Post's Vince Carroll pointed out a few days back. Opponents have continued shifting the goal posts, and re-casting their objections, and launching new attacks on a downsized and re-worked Army proposal, in what's morphed into a case of knee-jerk, anti-military obstructionism.
The Army hasn't completely giving up on expansion, reportedly. But its recent shifting of funds to another facility is one clear (and potentially ominous) signal that it will direct future resources to more hospitable places.
Perhaps The Chieftain and other expansion-bashers are delighted by the Army's retreat. Nothing short of a complete and unconditional surrender will satisfy some folks. But the gloating will end in Pueblo soon enough, if Carson's inability to train additional troops, and to provide adequate training space for the fighting force of the 21st and 22nd Century, land it on a future base closure list. The gloating will end when all those dollars and jobs go away.
It won't impact the ranchers-turned-activists down south. They're content living a 19th Century existence and don't want their little island of economic and cultural isolation disturbed. But Pueblo will feel the pain -- and perhaps come to regret the short-sighted, anti-military signals that the city's daily newspaper is sending out to the rest of the country.
Colorado dodged a bullet in the last base closure round. Carson was fortunate to actually benefit from the process. Yet Colorado showed little gratitude when the Army raised the possibility of expanding the training site to accommodate a bigger mission and more troops. What the Pentagon got in thanks was hostility, vilification, statehouse measures aimed at fragging the proposal -- what amounted to a rolling-up of the welcome mat in Colorado.
One can't help wonder whether folks back in Washington are having regrets about shifting additional assets to Carson in the last go-around. One can't help wonder if they're taking note of Colorado's anti-military attitudes. You can be sure that bases in more military-friendly states, and their representatives in Congress, are taking note.
They might even be clipping these Chieftain editorials for future reference.