Fort Carson is a United States Army installation located near Colorado Springs, primarily in El Paso County, Colorado. It is north of Pueblo, Colorado in Pueblo County. The installation extends south into Pueblo and Fremont counties. The portion of the installation located within El Paso County forms a census-designated place (CDP), which had a population of 13,815 at the 2010 census. Fort Carson is the home of the 4th Infantry Division, the 10th Special Forces Group, the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion (USAR), the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), the 4th Engineer Battalion, the 1st Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, the 759th Military Police Battalion, the 10th Combat Support Hospital, the 43rd Sustainment Brigade, the Army Field Support Battalion-Fort Carson, the 423rd Transportation Company (USAR) and the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron of the United States Air Force. The post also hosts units of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and the Colorado Army National Guard.
Camp Carson was established in 1942, following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The city of Colorado Springs, Colorado purchased land south of the city and donated it to the War Department. Construction began immediately and the first building, the camp headquarters, was completed January 31, 1942. Camp Carson was named in honor of the legendary Army scout, General Christopher "Kit" Carson, who explored much of the West in the 1800s.
Nurses, cooks, mule packers, tank battalions, a Greek infantry battalion, and an Italian ordnance company trained at Camp Carson during the war years. Camp Carson was also home to nearly 9,000 Axis prisoners of war – mostly Italians and Germans. The internment camp at Camp Carson opened on the first day of 1943. These POWs alleviated the manpower shortage in Colorado by doing general farm work, canning tomatoes, cutting corn, and aiding in logging operations on Colorado's Western Slope.
Between 1942 and 1956, pack mules were a common sight at Camp Carson. The first shipment arrived by train from Nebraska in July 1942. The mules were used by Field Artillery (Pack) battalions to carry equipment, weapons and supplies over mountainous terrain. The most famous of these animals was Hambone, the pride of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment. For 13 years, he carried First Sergeants up Ute Pass to Camp Hale. Camp Hale, located near Leadville, Colorado, was where the Army conducted cold weather and mountain warfare training. Hambone died in March 1971, and was buried with full military honors.
By April 1946, the post-war military strength at the camp was ~600 and on 16 December 1949, Strategic Air Command opened a survival school at Camp Carson for training in mountainous terrain (moved to Stead AFB in 1952.)
Fort Carson was designated from Camp Carson in 1954 and in the 1960s, mechanized units were assigned to the fort and it was expanded to the present . Butts Army Air Field at the fort was constructed between 1963 and 1966 with a runway for light fixed-wing aircraft (cf. USAF C-130s at the nearby Peterson AFB.)
Throughout its history Fort Carson has been home to nine divisions. An additional training area, comprising 235,000 acres (959 km²), was purchased in September 1983. Named the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, this training area is located approximately road miles to the southeast, and is used for large force-on-force maneuver training. Comprehensive maneuver and live fire training also occurs downrange at Fort Carson.
Fort Carson's beautiful scenery has made it one of the most requested duty stations in the U.S. Army. It is considered the second most popular CONUS duty station, after Fort Lewis, Washington, and adopted "Best Hometown in the Army" as its motto in 2007.
Construction in 2007 and 2008 preceded the return of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) from Fort Hood after their 2008 Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment (~5,000 additional soldiers).