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Leaked documents show Army's bold plan to acquire 10,000 square miles of Colorado

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Artillery ranges and tank maneuvers on fragile grasslands. Depopulated farm towns, suitable for urban warfare exercises for thousands of troops. A military installation the size of Massachusetts, sprawling across southern Colorado from Trinidad to the Kansas border. If you're going to plan, plan big. And the U.S. Army's plans for expansion of its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site have an audacity that's hard to beat.

This week's cover story, "The War Next Door," explores the long-running battle over the PCMS, a 235,000-acre site the Army acquired in the 1980s to prepare troops from Fort Carson for combat, and a current proposal for increased training there. After several political setbacks, the Army says it's put aside any plans to expand the PCMS for now. But landowners, preservationists and others are skeptical, given the grand scenario for expansion contained in military documents obtained by opponents through leaks and Freedom of Information Act requests.

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Army exercise at PCMS.
Ranchers who've run cattle in southeastern Colorado for generations first started hearing rumors of possible expansion of the site in 2005. In fact, prompted by a growing concentration of troops at Fort Carson because of base closures and realignments, the military had been studying acquisition of additional land for years before that. But locals' first clue of the scale involved came in the form of a leaked map that looked a lot like this one:

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Click image for a larger (800 pixel-wide) version.
The map, which appears in a 2004 planning document, shows a series of phased-in purchases over many years, starting with modest strips of property adjoining the current site. But the entire deal would eventually encompass 6.9 million acres -- that's more than 10,000 square miles, a tenth of the entire state's land area. The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition promptly translated this into a more vividly colored map, on view below, to give a better idea of what the Army had in mind:



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13 comments
Alexis Dreatori
Alexis Dreatori

Even though the plan was leaked to everyone, their strategy is nonetheless impressive. Taking over 10,000 square miles of Colorado must be hard for the soldiers.

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Coloradokeiths
Coloradokeiths

You know I just thought about something. I work on a Army base that is supposed to be decomissioned. Pueblo Chemical Deport. Instead of taking land from people who have been on it for generations, how about using land that had been in the Armies hands for years. Nothing happends here. There is plenty of space for exercises. Lots to building to be used to "Urban Warfare games). Use what you have United States Government. Stay off my land!

Coloradokeiths
Coloradokeiths

The last thing the US military needs to be doing is taking land away from AMERICANS. I pay my damn taxes which pays their salaries. I am not paying them to take my land! There is a prediction that we may soon be in a food shortage and the Army wants to take prime agriculture out of production. Such a smart move (read sarcasm). First I have elected officials who promise everything and deliver nothing. Now we have the Military that thinks it can take my land. Well good thing Colorado has the make my day law...when they try to come and take my land I will go down fighting.

Djwilcox2
Djwilcox2

How about staging maneuvers and training along the Mexican border?

Jacob E
Jacob E

Ok, let me get this straight. We are in a recession, and schools are closing, and unions are being battled against, and we are in debt past our eyeballs, yet the Government has money to buy up all this land??? Something stinks. And it's not the cow dung.

Donnasneller
Donnasneller

With the government owning over 86% of the State of Nevada let them go use what they already have and quit taking food producing land for destroying people's lives.

Jerry Kennedy
Jerry Kennedy

Instead of SE Colorado, the Army should be looking at much of Wyoming. Most of that state outside of Cheyenne and Casper is deserted and barren except of cattle, jackrabbits, and coyotes. 70 % of Wyoming could easily be claimed by the military with minimal impact on people living there.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting post, Coloradokeiths. Thanks for sharing it.

Steve Wooten
Steve Wooten

Jerry,

While i feel your frustration, this expansion isnot a "not In my back yard " issue. The Army owns over 25 million acres itself and the defense department adds over 5 million more: Enough is enough! The Army has failed to present quantifiable evidence of a shortagfe of training land in the U.S. and therefore the issue of expansion needs to end and end throughout the the country. It is time for the largest buracracy in the history of mankind to stay with in its budget, make the best use of it resources and become accountable to the citizens whose tax dollars fund it!

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Any readers from Wyoming disagree with Jerry's percentage?

SQuart
SQuart

The Army (Dept of Defense) has enough land already. They don't need anymore in Colorado or Wyoming.

Imyoung
Imyoung

(Dept of Defense) aka War Department runs on our fears. Why don't we have a Dept of Peace. Wage peace, It's cheaper.

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