Leader of Fort Carson's most valorous deployment set to return to Colorado
By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: January 25, 2017
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — Fort Carson this spring will trade in an old two-star commander for another familiar face, the Pentagon announced.
Maj. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves, who led Fort Carson through a series of changes including a new European mission for his troops is leaving to become the deputy commander of III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas.
But he's not leaving Fort Carson to the hands of a stranger.
He'll be replaced by Maj. Gen. Randy George, a former deputy post commander at Fort Carson and the man who led Fort Carson troops through the most valorous deployment of the post-9/11 war years as a colonel.
George has been working as an operations officer at the Pentagon, where he recently helped led a "crowd-sourcing" effort that harvested ideas for future military strategy from across the Defense Department.
George is best known in Colorado Springs as the commander of Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team
He led that infantry unit on a 2009 deployment to eastern Afghanistan that saw two soldiers from his unit earn the Medal of Honor for combat in the Korengal River Valley.
During the Oct. 3, 2009 battle of Combat Outpost Keating, a detachment of troops -- an understrength company from the brigade's 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment -- was trapped at a river valley outpost by more than 300 Taliban fighters.
The Fort Carson soldiers were surrounded and had to fight to retake parts of the outpost that were overrun by the Taliban fighters in a daylong battle.
Eight Fort Carson soldiers died and 27 were wounded in the bloodiest day for the post since Vietnam.
But the well-trained troops held out, killing more than 150 of the enemy in desperate fighting that even saw the Fort Carson soldiers grabbing enemy weapons to carry the day.
A pair of staff sergeants, Clint Romesha and Ty Carter, received the Medal of Honor on George's recommendation after the battle.
After leaving the brigade, George served as a top deputy at U.S. Central Command.
He got a brief return to Colorado Springs in 2014 with service as a deputy Fort Carson commander before he was summoned away by the Pentagon.
George has big shoes to fill.
The current commander, Gonsalves, oversaw huge changes in the way Fort Carson soldiers train. They have moved away from preparing to fight insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan to readying for a bigger fight with a near-peer rival like Russia.
He also led the post's 4th Infantry Division as it took over as the lead training force for NATO troops in Europe. Gonsalves' efforts also led to the deployment of the post's 3rd Brigade Combat Team this month to Eastern Europe, where it is running a series of training exercises aimed at curbing Russian aggression in the region.
Gonsalves also led a concerted effort to reconnect Fort Carson with the communities of the Pikes Peak region, something that had been neglected in recent years with the pounding pace of wartime deployments.
In his new role at III Corps, Gonsalves will help oversee several Army divisions, including troops at Fort Carson.
George will take over as the 4th Infantry Division prepares for its 100th Birthday celebration in December. The division was founded to fight in France during World War I.
A date for the change of command at Fort Carson hasn't been set, but it is expected to take place this spring.