- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas faces losing fewer than 700 soldiers from the Army’s cuts in active-duty forces over the next two years, and state officials said Thursday that the modest reductions show Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth remain vital to the military.

The reductions amount to 3.8 percent of the nearly 18,000 soldiers stationed at the two posts. The Army plans to cut its active-duty forces by about 8.2 percent, or 40,000 troops, to 450,000.

Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation and Gov. Sam Brownback said the state was largely spared, given budget pressures facing the Army. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a member of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, said state officials feared Fort Riley would lose a brigade, or 4,000 soldiers, and perhaps thousands more civilian employees.

“I never thought we would be spared completely,” the senator said in an Associated Press interview. “If the Army is going to reduce their forces by 40,000 military men and women, it’s probably unrealistic - it’s unrealistic - to expect there to be nothing at Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth.”

Moran said Kansas “dodged a bullet.” The troop reductions were 5 percent or less at a majority of the 30 posts facing cuts, but Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson in Alaska will lose 59 percent of its soldiers; Fort Benning, in Georgia, 29 percent; and Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri, 15 percent, according to the Army’s figures.

The Army also said it would eliminate 17,000 civilian jobs but did not say where.

“That may be a bigger player,” said Allen Dinkel, city manager in Junction City, adjacent to Fort Riley.

Dinkel said local officials expected troop losses at Fort Riley to be between 600 and 900 and were pleased to see the actual figure at the low end of the range. The Army said the post would lose 615 soldiers, about 4 percent of the 15,400 there.

“For right now, for the most part, we’re OK with it,” he said.

Fort Leavenworth will lose 60 troops out of about 2,500, or 2.4 percent.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican representing the 2nd District of eastern Kansas, said she believes the overall reductions are “severely misguided” but that the limited reductions in Kansas forces show their critical role in the nation’s defense.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said, “The grass-roots efforts we have seen in both communities were key to preventing more drastic cuts.”

Moran said Kansas officials were able to dispel questions about Fort Riley’s ability to deploy soldiers to overseas missions from the middle of the U.S. A large Kansas National Guard training range near Salina - available for the Army’s use - also was seen as an important asset, he said.

He said Army officials noted that several thousand people turned out for a town hall meeting in Junction City in February to show their support for keeping Fort Riley’s troop and civilian employee numbers intact.

Moran noted that the military has invested $1.8 billion at Fort Riley over the past five years, on new housing and schools and a new hospital.

Fort Leavenworth is home to the Army’s officer-training Command and General Staff College. Roberts said the Army’s support for the post “solidifies education as a core value.”



Fort Riley: https://www.riley.army.mil/

Fort Leavenworth: https://garrison.leavenworth.army.mil/


Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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