MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Fort Riley’s senior commander says community partnerships are key when it comes to providing support for soldiers and their families as the Army positions itself for the future.
Brigadier General Don MacWillie addressed members of the local business community and military spouses Wednesday during the luncheon with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Military Relations Committee at the Clarion Hotel.
MacWillie gave the crowd an update on Fort Riley and the changes coming to the installation and the surrounding areas as the war continues to die down in Afghanistan.
Five thousand Fort Riley soldiers are currently deployed around the world, he said. Members of the 1st Infantry Division are seven months into their rotation as the head of Regional Command East in eastern Afghanistan, transitioning power to the Afghan Armed Forces.
MacWillie says the majority of deployed soldiers’ families stayed in this area while their loved ones are overseas, which positively impacts the local economy.
“As the senior commander of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, we really wanted to hear from him as the representative how our community can interact with Fort Riley, build strong military families who are not dependent on our services but integrate into our community in the best way possible. We want to be military inclusive and not just military friendly,” Alison Pulcher, Military Community Liaison. .
As the Army draws down, MacWillie said there will also be less construction on Fort Riley and a smaller civilian and contractor workforce.
He encouraged business leaders to “hire a hero,” saying “more and younger” veterans will be transitioning into the civilian workforce.
He called the 1st Infantry Division "the most modern division in the world," equipped with the latest technology the Army has to offer which he says means Fort Riley is "positioned well for the future."
He also added the the capability to deploy troops rapidly and efficiently is a big asset for Fort Riley.