Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site hosts big Army drill

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A dusty landscape is seen at the training ground, dated in 2003, before the Army intensified its use of the PCMS. - PHOTOS COURTESY NOT 1 MORE ACRE!
  • Photos courtesy Not 1 More Acre!
  • A dusty landscape is seen at the training ground, dated in 2003, before the Army intensified its use of the PCMS.
In this week's edition, we report on one of the biggest exercises ever to be held at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado.

More than 5,000 soldiers have gathered there to conduct drills with Stryker vehicles, helicopters and other equipment.

Here's a description from Fort Carson:
Approximately 5,000 Soldiers from 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Sustainment Brigade as well as other Fort Carson units and about 750 Soldiers from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Hood, Texas, are participating in Operation Raider Focus exercise at Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) from April 18 to May 6. The training at PCMS is to prepare Soldiers for any possible mission should the unit be called to support contingencies around the globe. During the exercise, crews will train against each other using different scenarios to build team cohesion and ensure task proficiency. Approximately 1,500 military vehicles, to include 300 Stryker fighting vehicles, and 30 helicopters, to include UH-60 Black Hawks, AH-64 Apaches and CH-47 Chinooks, will be used in the exercise. Many of the vehicles will convoy to and from the training site starting on April 18. Equipment and vehicles that cannot be driven on roadways will be transported via railway to and from PCMS. Approximately 685 tactical vehicles in the 1st SBCT are equipped with Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below with Joint Capabilities Release (FBCB2/JCR) computer systems which will have a resource protection map as the background map image as Soldiers navigate across the terrain. The system with the background maps is intended to allow Soldiers to track friendly and hostile force movements while ensuring archaeological site protection and safety during the exercise.
The Mountain Post also says it's committed to being a good steward of the environment. Here's more on that from Carson:
Environmental personnel are involved in all levels of planning for military training, construction and other activities that could affect the PCMS environment. All cultural and environmental sites will be marked with awareness signs which will be placed along main supply routes and tank trails to provide an additional level of awareness to vehicle drivers, commanders and crews. Seibert Stakes will mark areas that are dangerous to vehicle travel or areas that need protection from vehicle traffic due to excessive erosion, areas that are environmentally or culturally sensitive, have been repaired and re-seeded after training use or are being rehabilitated for other reasons. Boulders will be placed around sites determined more sensitive and need more protection from vehicle traffic.

After Operation Raider Focus is completed, there will be an immediate basic remediation work plan implemented and a full assessment for longer term remediation. Soldiers will lead the remediation with the engineer assets that are in place in the unit. Funding is not required at this time for the remediation since it is being done by Soldiers. Fort Carson will use its two re-seeding vehicles to immediately repair any future land damage that results from training at PCMS. We are continually working to maintain the natural resources at PCMS.
Of course, not everyone agrees that Carson and the Army have done a good job, or that it's even possible to reclaim prairies that have been severely damaged by heavy vehicles.

Here's another photo that critics say shows the impact of the training:
Trails left by the Army's vehicles in one training area at the PCMS.
  • Trails left by the Army's vehicles in one training area at the PCMS.

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