Leaders of the 1st Infantry Division shared their vision of Fort Riley’s future with community leaders from across the state April 11 at the Regional Campaign Plan 2020 rollout.
More than 50 leaders from Junction City, Kan.; Manhattan, Kan.; and even the Kansas statehouse were in attendance for the event, which provided a guide to major events planned for the post in the next six years. These include joint training agreements, the completion of the new hospital on Fort Riley and the privatization of utilities on the historic post.
“I want everybody to understand that this asset, this post, is their post,” said Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general. “This is your Army.”
Funk said the campaign plan was a regional plan that has strategic implications for the area.
“What I hope to see is the improvement of the infrastructure so we improve the roads around the post so that we can expand and actually limit the amount of traffic and the impact we have on the day-to-day lives of local citizens,” the commanding general said. “We have world-class facilities that will attract world-class partners to the region.
“We’ll be able to hire top-notch professionals from around the world that want to come to this great central Flint Hills region and be part of this phenomenal community.”
Funk told the gathered leaders Fort Riley will privatize its utilities in 2016.
Privatization “will be good for this community; it will be good for all the communities,” he said. “We’ve had some power problems on the base — 52 major outages last year — and it’s because of our growth … and how rapidly we’ve been able to expand Fort Riley. And now we’ve got to get the infrastructure to catch up.”
The campaign plan also addresses the future reorganization of the “Big Red One” to accommodate the reduction of forces on Fort Riley by 1,200 to 1,700 Soldiers
“We will lose one brigade here, but of that we’ll actually grow the other two brigades,” Funk said.
Lt. Col. James Collins, the division’s assistant chief of effects who led the presentation of the campaign plan, gave further details about the reorganization.
“The changing force structure ensures the 1st Inf. Div. remains ready well into the future and is able to provide the Army with adaptable forces,” he said. “The entire team here is committed to mitigating the impact of the reduction on our Soldiers, families and communities to the greatest extent possible.”
Area leaders appreciated the look at Fort Riley’s future, as well as the opportunity to try their hands at some of the post’s high-tech training simulators following the campaign plan rollout.
Kansas Speaker of the House Rep. Ray Merrick remarked the training was much different than what he received in the Marine Corps in 1960.
“It’s really a good program,” Merrick said of the campaign plan. “This is a very important part of the economy of Kansas. We need to keep the base going strong.”
Guests to the post had the opportunity to observe and use equipment simulating real-life situations division Soldiers may find themselves in while deployed.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to come out to Fort Riley and find out what real Soldiers do,” said Mark Edwards, a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army and a Junction City-based attorney.
Edwards said Funk and his staff did a wonderful job of sharing information with the community at large.
“I liked to hear how they are going to address a time in which we’re not going to have as much money,” Edwards said. “As a region, we need to be able to be proactive on behalf of the Army and do everything we can to make sure people understand that this is a great opportunity to come to Fort Riley and train.
“We’re really the premiere division-level installation in the Army, and things like this just reaffirm that.”
Funk took the opportunity to invite the public as a whole out to visit the post.
“We’ve been in this region for 160 years,” Funk said. “I’m sending to people all over the region an open invitation to come see their Army. This is the Big Red One. My name is Funk and I’m a Big Red One Soldier. Come out and see us at good-old Fort Riley, Kansas.”