On overflow crowd of over 1,200 people showed up to voice support, and concern, for the future of Fort Riley. The Army hosted a public meeting to hear from the community about how possible personnel reductions on the base could affect them.
Fort Riley employs more than 25,000 people in the Junction City area. In a worst-case scenario, as many as 16,000 could be lost, either dismissed or redeployed.
Brig. Gen. Roger Cloutier hosted the event. He assured the crowd that no decisions on cuts, including how many and at what locations, have yet been made.
Cloutier said that after gathering information at this event, and at other similar events across the country, a report with recommendations will be prepared. He anticipates a decision in the late Spring or early Summer.
At its peak, the military was 570,000 strong. By the end of this year that number must be cut to 490,000. If nothing changes, by the end of 2017 the number must be cut to 450,000, and by 2019 the number must be at 420,000.
Cloutier said that no matter what happens, the Army must still retain a “ready, modern force”.
Nearly the entire Kansas Congressional delegation including Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, and Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Lynn Jenkins, and Mike Pompeo were among those showing support at the event Monday. Numerous other state and local elected officials were also in the crowd, including Salina area state legislator Diana Dierks and representatives from the City of Salina.
Fort Riley is one of 30 military installations across the U.S. that could see troop reductions as a result of the federal budget cuts and personnel reductions to the Army.