Friday May 24, 2013
Oregon Troops Home From War are Under Lockdown at Fort CarsonTim King Salem-News.com
A number of Oregon Guard troops who have been at war in Afghanistan for the last year are unhappy about being placed in "a lockdown status" at Fort Carson, Colorado.
(Salem, Ore.) - Though some believe it is typical for returning soldiers to be detained for a short while when first returning to the country, Oregon Guard soldiers home from the war in Afghanistan have been cooling their heals for more than just a few days at Fort Carson, Colorado, and many family members back in Oregon say it is the wrong way to treat people who have been through a year at war.
Salem-News.com was contacted by a family member of one of the Oregon Guard soldiers with this message Monday:
"Someone should investigate the treatment our Oregon Guardsman are getting at Ft. Carson, CO RIGHT NOW! They are there to demobilize (physicals, pay, etc.), but are being treated like POWs. Locked down behind wire fences, etc. someone needs to look into this ASAP! It's disgraceful!"
One email from an Oregon Guard family member to our newsroom, states that the soldiers have made repeated requests to visit a few historic sites off the base. Those requests were denied.
A spokesperson from Fort Carson says the base will not transport soldiers off base to historic sites because of the damage caused by military trucks on Colorado roads. They could not answer whether or not another vehicle, like a bus, could be utilized to allow the soldiers to go off base.
While none of these soldiers are in possession of their personal automobiles, having just stepped off an airplane from Afghanistan, the base command apparently still believes they are capable of causing problems in the community.
"If one soldier gets a DUII at Fort Carson" a spokesperson said, "They will be staying at Fort Carson and not returning to Oregon any time soon."
The spokesperson from Fort Carson says the policy which they refer to as a "Restriction of movement" in official terms, is an effort to keep the soldiers contained as they go through a multi-step demobilization process.
The 1st Mobilization Brigade soldiers at Fort Carson are responsible for putting these troops through the demobilization process, where they go over medical records and make sure that all of the returning soldier's needs are being addressed.
The soldiers have completed a yearlong combat tour in Afghanistan. Many of them, particularly those in the infantry, have been involved in multiple enemy contacts and many have lost friends.
These are the soldiers who are under lockdown in Colorado.
They are presently under the command of the 1st Army, and their Western Division Headquarters are based at Fort Carson. Brig. General Norman Anderson of the 1st Division apparently created the rule that the soldiers who return from the war would have five days of restricted movement, not be allowed basic liberties afforded to regular Army personnel who are based there.
The Army and Brig. Gen. Anderson apparently believe that this restriction is the best way to manage these soldiers who have returned home from war, but some say it is a potential slap in the face for Oregon Guard soldiers, known for their professionalism in a war where they were trusted to carry a live weapon everywhere they went for 365 days.
During the Vietnam War, soldiers were shipped straight back from the war to their homes via civilian airports. The extended days of demobilization are a vast change in policy from that period now more than 30-years ago.
The Oregon Guard soldiers are expected to ship out toward the end of the week, the Oregon Guard confirms that a flight still has not been arranged.
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