FORT RILEY (KSNT) – The hearing this Monday afternoon is only one of many hearings all across the country that the army is holding. The army is looking at an across the board 21% cut in active duty personnel and another 5% in the various reserve units. That means Kansas has a serious uphill battle to make sure those numbers don’t come from Kansas.
The U.S. army has to cut $45 billion from its current budget and 30,000 troops, and it’s looking at a similar cut next year. So, in the big scheme of things, the $1.6 billion economic hit regionally from reducing the size of Fort Riley is small. And that’s the challenge the state’s congressional delegation faces.
“The narrower picture is within the army can we convince army officials how important Fort Riley is to the defense of the country,” says Senator Jerry Moran.
Moran spoke briefly after meeting with the head of the committee listening to the impact of reducing the size of the first infantry division, which is based at Fort Riley.
The pentagon has already eliminated two brigades of the unit in Kentucky and Missouri, Fort Riley would be the third.
Moran says saving that unit and the civilian jobs which support it depends on one thing. “The big picture is can we antique fund the army so that they don’t need to down size in such a dramatic way.”
But local support is also critical and that’s something the army needs to hear. “Is the heart of Kansans, how much do they care about this place,” says Moran. He says the future of Fort Riley will be determined this year and the effects will take place over the next two to three years. The army is also considering whether to cut as many as 5,400 jobs at Fort Leavenworth.