By Sgt. Kelsey Simmons | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Clerks with the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee (HASC) from Washington, D.C. toured Fort Carson, Sept. 28, 2021.
According to Natalie Debenedetti, a clerk for the HASC, due to working in Washington, D.C., and managing higher-level programs, she and her team wanted to visit Fort Carson to better understand the people who would be affected by the policies they write.
“We came here to Fort Carson to really see what’s on the ground,” Debenedetti said. “To come here and see people, work with people, talk with people and really see what everyone’s doing in the base here gives us more perspective so we can do our job more effectively.”
Capt. Evan Otto, an aviation planner for exercises with division operations, 4th Infantry Division, said it was important that those who write the policies are exposed “to what military life is like — what our training, operations and friction points are.”
First on the clerks’ agenda was a command brief with Brig. Gen. Eric S. Strong, the deputy commanding general for support, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, and Col. Nate Springer, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson.
“From there, we loaded them onto an aircraft and took them for an aerial tour of the post,” Otto said.
Much to the excitement of the HASC clerks, their arranged mode of travel for the tour was a UH-60 Black Hawk; and for most it was their first time.
“So that was a great experience,” said Caroline Kehrli, clerk with the HASC. “Getting to see how big the range actually is and what being on an Army training range actually entails, all while having a 360-degree bird’s-eye view, was incredibly eye opening.”
The helicopter transported the group to an armored vehicle range where Soldiers with Dakota Troop, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were preparing for a live-fire exercise.
“First, the visitors got to try an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) for the first time, which was great,” said 1st Sgt. Jason Wirtz, senior enlisted adviser of Dakota Troop, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., 3rd ABCT. “Then we showed them the tanks — inside and out — and how they work. After that, we took them for Abrams rides. Next, they got to watch us perform a live-fire so they could see how we shoot and communicate while we’re out on the range.”
Debenedetti said it was hard to choose the helicopter ride as her second favorite part of the experience, but she decided she enjoyed the M1A1 Abrams tank ride more.
“It was great being able to step foot inside and see how small they are on the inside compared to how large they are on the outside, along with all the teamwork that’s needed to make them effective,” Debenedetti said.
From there, the group experienced a small fraction of what a foot march is like as they walked a short uphill distance to a training area where Maj. Gen. David M. Hodne, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, was waiting.
“They got the opportunity to have a Q&A with Maj. Gen. Hodne,” said Otto. “Since practically every lieutenant colonel on post was at the same Leader Professional Development event, the visitors had a chance to ask a few of the questions, as well.”
“Everyone’s been so helpful in answering our questions and very kind in showing us around,” said Debenedetti. “We really appreciated it.”
According to Otto, it seemed as if the clerks had a great time touring the Mountain Post and would like to come back again someday.
“They were blown away,” said Otto. “They loved being able to get hands-on with some real military equipment. They asked if it was something they could do again in the future. Hopefully, it gave them the military exposure and understanding they’ll need in order to produce good policies on their end.”