Southern Colorado leaders tour PCMS

By Norman Shifflett, Fort Carson Public Affairs OfficeJune 6, 2023

Southern Colorado leaders tour PCMS
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Maj. Brett Reichert, executive officer, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, briefs members of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site tour on the operations 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., conducted while in PCMS. During the two-week training operation over 3,500 Soldiers and over 1,000 vehicles cycled through PCMS for training. (Photo Credit: Norman Shifflett) VIEW ORIGINAL

TRINIDAD, Colo. — City of Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico, county commissioners from Las Animas, Otero, and Huerfano counties and select congressional staffers had a chance to have a Key Leader Tour at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) May 24, 2023.

Before the tour kicked off, Col. Sean M. Brown, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, welcomed the group of leaders and gave a brief run down on what they would see during the tour. He also encouraged the group to ask any questions that they might have during the tour.

“We will get a good view of the operations that we conduct here at Piñon Canyon, as well as the benefits that Piñon Canyon offers Fort Carson and our tenant units,” said Brown. “I encourage everybody that if you have a question for the garrison staff or the units, this is your opportunity to ask those questions to get a better understanding of how important Piñon Canyon is not only to Fort Cason and its units, but to the United States Army and the units that rotate through here.”

The first stop on the tour was a former ranch named Brown Sheep Camp which Samuel Taylor Brown purchased in 1882.

Benjamin Zandarski, Fort Carson archeologist, gave the group a quick history of the ranch and how it came to be on PCMS.

Julius Gunter was Brown’s business partner and son-in-law and inherited the ranch in 1917 after Brown’s death. He managed the land until his death in 1940, at which time he had accumulated over 26,000 acres. The Department of Defense purchased the land in 1983 along with other land in Southern Colorado to develop a maneuver training site.

The ranch however is off limits to training because it still contains structures and markings the Army wants to keep protected for historical preservation.

“I feel very comfortable with what the Army is doing,” said Karen Grieto, City of Trinidad city council member. “The Army is very meticulous about what they are doing with (Piñon Canyon); they are very good stewards of the land.”

The next leg of the tour was a flyover of the PCMS training area.

The group loaded up on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, to get a flyover of significant cultural sites located at PCMS and the natural gas pipeline that cuts through the training area.

After flying over a large area of PCMS, the group landed at the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., Tactical Operations Center (TOC). There, they received a briefing by Maj. Brett Reichert, executive officer, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., on what the brigade had been training on and why PCMS was important to their training.

While the training space at Fort Carson is good for small unit training, PCMS offers space large enough for larger units to conduct force-on-force maneuver training, said Reichert.

“To give you a perspective of the amount of people we have had here, at max it’s been about 1,900 people on ground with over 600 vehicles, but we are receiving and sending back people to Fort Carson every day,” said Reichert. “The amount of people who have trained here over the last 15 days has exceeded 3,500 and over 1,000 vehicles.”

The tour group got to look at a static display of a command variant Stryker vehicle and a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle while at the TOC, as well as having a Meal, Ready-To-Eat (MRE) lunch where Soldiers gave instructions to the group on how to properly prepare and consume the meal.

With the tour allowing the group to interact with the Soldiers and to see the area in which they train, the group members came away with a positive outlook on what the Army is doing at PCMS.

“I think one of the big things to me is to bring this many people together to really understand the joint efforts that the Army is doing right now with their training, really revamping some of it and really coming up with ways to keep everything preserved is amazing,” said Natasha Hutson, regional director for Senator Michael Bennet. “I think the partnerships that the Army has built here are amazing.”