Story and photo by Nel Lampe
The combined command information brief/town hall meeting with 4th Infantry Division forward, at McMahon Auditorium March 10 drew a crowd of 200 Soldiers, Family members, post employees, Fort Carson Good Neighbors, retirees and community leaders.
Because of events in Iraq, Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general, U.S. Division-North and 4th Inf. Div., was unable to address the crowd by video teleconferencing as he was called away to deal with a “significant issue” between the Arabs and the Kurds near Kirkuk. Instead, his message was prerecorded.
“I think it is indicative of the quality of leadership we have at Fort Carson and the performance of our Soldiers that no matter where you look around the world, the main effort and the heavy lifting is being done by the 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Soldiers,” Perkins said on the recording.
Perkins said USD-N, commanded by 4th Inf. Div. has the largest forces in Iraq and deals with some of the most difficult issues from al-Qaida and the Arabs and Kurds. He said the 4th Inf. Div. forces are the primary focus in strengthening the Iraqi security forces. All of the divisions in the Iraqi army that are part of the priority training effort are being trained or command and controlled by 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers.
The main effort in Afghanistan is being conducted by 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Soldiers, he said.
“You can rest assured that great progress is being made here in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The progress that is being made against terrorists, the progress that is being made with Iraqi army security forces, the progress that is being made against the Taliban is a direct reflection of the support that we get back there,” Perkins said. “So, all the spouses, Family members – none of this could have been possible without the support they are getting from Fort Carson, garrison, rear detachment and the folks back at Fort Carson.”
Col. Patrick L. Fetterman, chief of staff, 4th Inf. Div., and Fort Carson, addressed the gathered audience via video teleconference following Perkins’ message.
Fetterman reiterated that Perkins was in a meeting with senior U.S. leaders in Iraq, dealing with issues in Kirkuk. “We hope we can resolve it in the near future and get back to business as usual, but it does reinforce that this is a very dangerous and complicated environment and we are occupied pretty much every day, just trying to sort out the major problems that arise seemingly from nowhere,” he said.
Fetterman thanked the community members and “good neighbors” present, and said Perkins had asked him to thank Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson; Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, garrison commander; and Walter E. Wininger, Mission Support Element director; and those back on the installation who routinely keep things going.
Fetterman briefed with charts showing Fort Carson troop disposition and the units presently deployed.
He said that the 43rd Support Brigade did a tremendous job in Afghanistan before recently redeploying.
“The 4th Inf. Div. will transition in November or December 2011. We hope it will be a little sooner, but we’re not counting on that. We will be home by Dec. 31, 2011,” Fetterman said.
He closed the command information brief by thanking the Families in particular for “letting us deploy and letting us have the service of your spouse and taking care of everything back there while we are deployed.
“It is without a doubt the most important thing for us to know that our Family is safe and sound and relatively happy in our absence.”
Doty and McLaughlin then took the floor.
McLaughlin briefed to slides, beginning with the significant initiatives from fiscal 2011-fiscal 2016, to include the movement of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., to Wilderness Road, “which will change the dynamics of the post,” McLaughlin said.
“Banana Belt” development will continue through fiscal 2016; the old commissary will see reuse as the welcome center in fiscal 2012; the Warrior Family Community Partnership should be complete in fiscal 2013.
The resiliency campus near Forrest Fitness Center will include a child development center, scheduled to begin construction this summer, and the construction start of a physical fitness facility.
An August/September construction start of the behavioral health clinic will be next, with renovation of Forrest to begin in October.
Construction projects started in the past year include a fitness center, post exchange expansion, commissary construction, a Soldier Family Care Center and the Fort Carson museum.
After a few questions from the audience, the town hall meeting concluded with door prize drawings.
The next Town Hall meeting is May 24, at 6 p.m. in McMahon Auditorium.