From the front lines in Iraq straight to our studios, a Fort Carson commander sat down one on one via satellite with 11 news to discuss the on-going mission for Colorado Springs’ soldiers.
Nearly six years ago, the Iraq COL Henry “Butch” Kievenaar saw first hand was the ground for an all out military strike against the forces of Saddam Hussein.
Those memories make what a visitor would see now much more satisfying.
"You would see families out on playgrounds," Kievenaar said.
His description is a snapshot of the change the soldiers of Ft. Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, helped take place over repeated rotations to the battlefield.
"It's not perfect by any means, but [Iraqi forces] have made tremendous strides based off the surge gave them the capacity to insure Iraqi forces are not only ready, but they were confident in their abilities," he said.
Now his soldiers are stretched from the north in Kirkuk to the south in Najaf.
Fifty days into the rotation, Kievenaar can speak of only one major combat incident amidst some success.
"When you fix something, it stays fixed versus before you'd fix something and the insurgents and terrorists would try to target it and take it out," Kievenaar said.
Fresh off an election here in the states, the nation of Iraq is gearing up for it's own. Thousands of Fort Carson soldiers will be right there to make sure all goes smoothly. Questions remain about what may happen if political power shifts in the upcoming elections. Commanders believe the elections will be the next true test of nearly six years of work.
"We'll move through that and if we can help them maintain the same level of security for the local population we're experiencing now, then the light at the end of the tunnel becomes much brighter," said Kievenaar.
On a final note, COL Kievenaar extended a heartfelt thanks to all of his soldiers’ families and everyone in the community supporting them during each deployment.