We are delighted to learn that the Kansas National Guard will be adding to its present strength in Manhattan.
The addition will be in the form of the 130th Field Artillery Brigade headquarters, which will operate out of the National Guard armory on Levee Drive. The headquarters unit will consist of 15 full-time positions as well as 160 slots for Guard members here and elsewhere who train two weeks each year and one weekend each month.
According to the Kansas National Guard, the 130th Field Artillery Brigade will provide command and control for the 1st battalion of the 161st Field Artillery in Wichita and the 2nd Battalion of the 130th Field Artillery in Hiawatha. As their names suggests, field artillery units are charged with providing indirect fire in support of maneuvers.
The headquarters unit won’t be at full speed for about a year, though several full-time Guard members will begin setting up operations in a little over a month.
At present, Manhattan’s armory has only a handful of full-time personnel. It is home to the 2137th Support Company (Forward) and Detachment 1 of the 778th Transportation Company. Those units also have several hundred drill status positions.
Sharon Watson, spokesperson for the Kansas National Guard, said that the Department of Defense annually reviews its needs across the country as well as what units are available. Along with other state Guard organizations, Kansas has the opportunity to seek additional missions. In this instance, both the need and the availability led to Manhattan.
Said Ms. Watson: “A lot of factors go into these decisions.”
As folks here already know, Manhattan has a lot going for it. Among other things, the armory, though not new, is a vast improvement over the former facility at what is now Manhattan Regional Airport. Also, given the city’s proximity to Fort Riley, Guard members have the opportunity to train on post with activity duty personnel and work collaboratively.
Not only will the city benefit from a modest influx of residents, but, as Ms. Watson pointed out, the expanded presence of the National Guard adds to the its ability to respond with personnel and other military resources to natural disasters or other emergencies.
Serving as host to individuals and units dedicated to our nation’s defense is not a new role for Manhattan. It is one the entire community takes seriously and welcomes with open arms.