JUNCTION CITY (KSNT) More than 1,500 people packed the Geary County Convention Center Monday to participate in a “listening session” held by the US Army on proposed reductions at Ft. Riley.
The Pentagon is considering cuts of as many as 16,000 military personnel and civilian support jobs as it looks to cut it’s budget in the wake of the post-Iraq and Afghanistan buildup.
The fate of the base, and the “Big Red One” First Infantry Division is important to all of the state’s officials at Monday’s listening session.
U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran as well as Representatives Lynn Jenkins and Tim Huelskamp all spoke to the
“We are unified in protecting Ft. Riley,” says Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R) Dist. 1. “Not just the men and women, not just the fort, not just the economic impact, but the capability of protecting America particularly in these times of ISIL and numerous other threats to our national security.”
If the Army goes ahead with the cuts as initially proposed, regional leaders say the reductions could have a $1.6 billion dollar impact on the economies of Riley and Geary counties.
“To go down to levels that we can’t afford and then we have to regenerate. This is not right,” Said Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts.
The community doesn’t want it either. They say it’s an issue of quality of life.
“Because of the Kansas Medical Center and the medical facilities that we have in this community i was able to receive a liver transplant just over 12 years ago and i am here today to tell it,” said Jim Stands, Junction City Commissioner.
Fort Riley also plays a key role in several Geary County School districts.
“I speak to you on behalf of our eleven hundred students which approximately 40 percent are military connected. Most importantly our partnership with fort riley is our adopt-a-school units,” said Lacee Sell, Superintendent of USF 473.
They military says it hopes to have a decision by the end of the year.