The best place in the Army to train opened its gates to the media on Wednesday. Fort Riley invited local media inside their gates to tour the facility, learn a little bit about army life, and to train a little on some of the simulation equipment.
The army post, which takes up over 100,000 square acres, is a city within itself. With 14,000 soldiers on base, it has to be. Fort Riley has its own fire and police service, emergency management service, as well as shopping and dining service. There are six grade schools on the army post, and one middle-school.
The 1st Infantry Division, which is made up of some of the most respected soldiers in all of the military, calls Fort Riley home. The division, known as the”The Big Red One”, formed in 1917 to train soldiers to fight in World War I. It will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017, and multiple events are being planned.
Along with the the 14,000 soldiers who train at Fort Riley, 26,000 others will also train at the base this year. Among them are other branches of the armed forces, various Reserve Officers’ Training Corps groups, the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, police agencies, agents from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Energy. Others train at the base as well.
Patrick Frank, the Deputy Commanding General for the 1st Infantry Division, said that of the 14,000 soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, all of them will at some point deploy. The Army is currently deploying soldiers to areas that include Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea. Frank said that they are as busy as they have ever been, even busier than they were during the recent troop surge.
General Frank told KSAL News that one of the reasons Fort Riley is the best place in the Army to train is because of its relationship with the Salina area. Fort Riley uses the Joint Regional Training Center, the Smoky Hill Weapons Range, and the Crisis City venue for training. Frank cited the unmanned aircraft program as an example. Drones can take off from Fort Riley, travel 60 miles to the Smoky Hill Range, then return home. No where else can training like this, a simulation of what really happens in the field, take place.
General Frank said that the 1st Infantry Division is “your division”, referring to the surrounding area. Many soldiers live in the communities that surround Fort Riley, and conversely many civilian employees who work at Fort Riley live in the surrounding communities.
The General said that the retention rate, and reenlistment rate at Fort Riley is at a record high. “It truly is the best place to live, to train, to deploy from, to come home to, and to retire,” he concluded.
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