News, Training

Soldiers Train for Terror Incident at Colorado Base

Tuesday brought the first major disaster exercise at Fort Carson since 2011.

It’s not that the soldiers there have gone untrained, commanders said. Instead, troops at the post faced the real thing in 2012 and 2013 with the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires. The region’s lack of disaster so far in 2014 prompted the need for the drill.

“The last two years, we have responded in the real world,” said Col. Joel Hamilton, the post’s garrison commander.

Compared to the two most destructive wildfires in Colorado’s history, Tuesday’s training may seem tame. The scenario, complete with props and soldiers acting out phony injuries, was a car bomb strike on the post by a disgruntled worker.

The training involved soldiers from agencies across the post and civilian officials from Colorado Springs and El Paso County working together to deal with the initial bomb strike and the concern that more attacks could follow.

Commanders said the training allowed the military to hone relationships with local governments.

“You don’t way to build those relationships on your worst day,” Hamilton said.

Smoke and debris filled an intersection on the south side of Fort Carson. To avoid alarming the post’s 24,000 soldiers, loud speakers across the installation announced “This is a force protection exercise.”

Soldiers trained on medical skills, firefighting, bomb disposal, crowd control and police work.

Fort Carson and other installations have been on high alert in recent weeks for terrorist threats out of the Middle East, including renewed saber rattling from Al Qaida and growing concern about the Islamic State, or ISIS, , a well-financed militant group that has conquered a large swath of northern Iraq and is now the target of American airstrikes.

There also are threats closer to home.

“We have incidents like what happened yesterday at Fort Lee, Virginia,” Hamilton said, describing an incident where an armed female soldier entered a Fort Lee building Monday and fatally shot herself.

Training will continue Wednesday and Fort Carson leaders will review to identify shortcomings.

With Sept. 11 coming up, Hamilton said its a good time to train for the worst.

“Lest we forget, It’s a dangerous place,” he said.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

On Twitter: @xroederx
August 26, 2014