The Buzz

'Future of Ft. Riley' chat draws lots of reaction

A 2006 training exercise at Ft. Riley
A 2006 training exercise at Ft. Riley

Fort Riley drew quite a crowd Monday.

More than 1,000 people showed up for a community discussion about the future of the base, according to reports from attendees.

U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran were in Junction City for a day of discussions. Reps. Mike Pompeo, Tim Huelskamp and Lynn Jenkins were also expected to participate in the events.

Gov. Sam Brownback also tweeted from the event.

There are an estimated 17,000 soldiers at Ft. Riley. There are discussions about significantly reducing the size of the Army, potentially reducing the presence at the fort — and its impact in Kansas.

According to a worst-case scenario provided by a senate office, Ft. Riley could lose 16,000 civilian and military personnel.

At the same time, some Republicans are using the threat of base closing and force reductions to renew the debate over the sequester of military spending. President Obama has proposed raising the sequester caps — potentially sparing the military from significant reductions — but he also wants to lift the caps on non-military spending.

Republicans seem less interested in that.

A decision is not imminent, but the political markers are being placed.

“Any scenario where we consider moving a division-level post from the Army puts Fort Riley, Kansas, and our community at risk,” Brig. Gen. Eric Wesley said recently.

Wesley is the senior mission commander at the base.

“The question at hand is the most important strategic question facing the state of Kansas in the next five to 10 years,” he said.

Moran has already issued a statement.

“During my visit to Fort Riley, I had a valuable conversation about the impact of potential Army force reductions,” the statement said.

“It is evident to them that Kansans support, care and respect those serving our country at Fort Riley.… As plans for force reductions are reviewed, the infrastructure and investment that has already been made in housing, medical care and education would be difficult to walk away from.”