by Billie Garner
Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
Fort Carson hosted an open house for Southern Colorado community members at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site Aug. 5.
It was the first open house for PCMS in several years, which drew approximately 200 locals to visit and engage with the military and Fort Carson civilian staff.
Opened in 1985 to provide critical maneuver lands, PCMS is a training asset for Fort Carson, other military installations, the National Guard and Reserve units from all branches of the service.
The event was hosted by Col. John S. Kolasheski, commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, Fort Carson garrison commander.
During the open house, military vehicles were exhibited and Soldiers demonstrated training currently taking place at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site’s 235,896-acre training region, which is located 150 miles southeast of Fort Carson and 25 miles east of Trinidad on Highway 350.
The mock exercises provided reporters and community leaders a glimpse of what Soldiers experience in combat situations. The training also displayed lifesaving abilities needed to rescue people in the most dangerous situations.
Making the experience as realistic as possible for the Soldiers, the Army has modified training scenarios to resemble the operating environment in Afghanistan. Because of the likeness between Iraq and Afghanistan, the military made few modifications, aside from changing some cultural role players and symbols in replicated villages to support its modification to focus on Afghanistan.
Many visitors came with their family members and lined up in groups to view and take photos of the military equipment static
displays, which included the M-1 Abrams Tank, M-3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M-1200 Armored Security Vehicle, M-1151 up-armored Humvee, UH-1 Huey Medical Evacuation helicopter and a fire truck.
Thanks in part to generous food donations from the local community, more than 175 people were treated to a free barbecue, served by 2nd BCT Soldiers.
The Soldiers have been training on site for approximately one month and are scheduled to depart the training area in mid-August returning to Fort Carson.
“Training conducted at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site is different from what we do on Fort Carson and therefore makes this area invaluable. Fort Carson has an excellent record of environmental resource stewardship and is developing a training strategy to use the existing terrain at Piñon Canyon. We will work with our southern Colorado community partners to share information and expectations. Soldiers take great efforts in preventing and limiting the damage to the environment and to mitigate those damages and make repairs when they occur,” Capt. Richard Ferrell, 2nd BCT, told the crowd during his welcome speech to the guests.
“I’m very impressed with Soldiers, the garrison commander and the open house. It makes me proud to be an American,” said Kimberly Pacheco-Schultz, executive director for the Trinidad and Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce.
Pacheco-Schultz, who is familiar with PCMS and the military, said they are so happy that the military can use the land to train Soldiers to better prepare them for what to expect in Afghanistan.
“My wife and I took advantage of the open house and we really enjoyed it a lot. Everyone was so friendly and very informative. It was great to see how wisely our tax dollars are spent and just wish there were even more funds available for additional equipment for our troops,” said E. R. (Bob) Hawbaker, retiree.