You Can Feel US-Iranian Tensions On The Streets Of Colorado Springs

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Military hardware on display at Gate 1 of the Fort Carson military base near Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs’ military community has closely watched as U.S.-Iran tensions have flared. With five nearby military installations, it’s not difficult to find former service members around town to talk about the situation.

Fears of a wider conflict with Iran lessened after a televised statement from President Donald Trump in which the president did not call for further military action after Iranian airstrikes on Iraqi bases that housed American personnel.

The attacks were described as revenge for the Jan. 3 targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general. However, many analysts believe the retaliatory strike was purposefully conducted so as not to lead to any deaths.

“We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,” Trump said Wednesday. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”

Outside the Lindstrom Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic on West Fillmore, Trump supporter Alan Brown was in his “everyday attire”: a Marine Corps ball cap, an Israel lanyard around his neck and a t-shirt that proclaimed “God, Guns and Trump.” Brown said he was impressed by the president’s resolve in ordering the lethal strike on Soleimani.

“He’s cleaning up messes that have been left (by) not just a Democrat, but Republican presidencies before him,” he said.

Fort Carson, the Army post on the south side of town, has seen near-constant troop deployments to the Middle East since 9/11. At the mention of Iran, you could hear the audible fatigue in Lena Ramsay’s voice. She is a disabled Army combat vet from the war in Afghanistan.

“It just feels like history is repeating itself again,” Ramsay said. “That we are at the start of another war, that’s what it feels like to me.”

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Army veteran Lena Ramsay in Colorado Springs, Jan. 8, 2019.

Despite that, Ramsay still has confidence in the president’s leadership and believes a show of strength can sometimes be the best way to avoid further conflict.

She just hopes that’s how it turns out this time.

Another Afghan Army veteran, Chris Mac, felt that the decision to target Soleimani seemed to be too brash and risky. He thinks Trump should curtail his impulsiveness and listen more to his advisors.

“That doesn't really make sense to kill someone to stop a war when the whole country backs that General [Soleimani],” Mac said.

Despite the ease of spotting active-duty soldiers around town in their camouflage uniforms, getting them to speak on the record about the Iran situation is far from easy.

Yet, 19-year-old Army combat medic James Holmes was willing to open up on his way to a haircut. He said his first thought when he heard about the Iranian conflict was that it may actually end up involving him personally.

“But that's also my expectation when joining the military,” he said. “I want to get deployed, I want to serve my country.”

While it is far too early to guess what deployments may be needed, soldiers out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were quickly dispatched to the Middle East in the wake of Soleimani’s death.