Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said Friday that Fort Riley should not see a large reduction in troops as a result of recently announced force reductions, and added that he would be “surprised” if a potential BRAC-style reduction had “any impact” on the post.
Both observations, delivered during a press briefing that as part of Odierno’s visit to the post, were good news for Riley and Geary county economies, which are dependent on the strong military presence.
“This is a place we expect to have a large contingent of army for a very long time,” Odierno said citing the fort’s training facilities and history.
As the U.S. Army prepares to withdraw all of its forces from Iraq by 2013 and reduce the size of the army by 80,000 troops over a six-year period ending in 2017, Odierno said there will be three major factors in determining the cuts at each base. The army will make sure none of the bases are over-crowded, look at the recent development of infrastructure, and also look at the condition of training facilities. Every base should expect to see cuts due to the large reduction in troops, he said, but as of now, the only decision has been to cut two European brigades.
Since 2006, when the 1st Infantry Division returned from Germany, the fort has continued to add buildings. One of the base’s largest upgrades is the development of the Irwin Army Community Hospital, which will cost more than $300 million and gives the base one of the newest Army hospitals in the country.
Odierno praised the local community’s support of Fort Riley and thanked community members.
“I am permanently thankful for the population here and the support that they’ve given to numerous deployments that we have had through here, but also in support of the army as a whole,” Odierno said. “I want to thank the people of this region for that great support.”
Odierno was on post Friday to oversee an upcoming deployment exercise for Afghanistan.