The Council’s Executive Director, Lt. Gen ( Retired ) Perry Wiggins made that point during a Military Affairs Council meeting in Junction City on Thursday.
In 2012 Fort Riley lost the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team during a time of Army sequestration and draw down. Wiggins now says the recent National Defense Authorization Act that was approved still needs budget approval but includes an increase in soldier strength up to between 17,000 to 28,000. But now the Army has a plan to push those troops to increase readiness. “One of the plans is to take a segment of those troops and put them into existing brigade combat teams to increase their numbers, to increase that readiness. Another plan is to increase organizations like an additional armored brigade combat team.”
Wiggins said they trying to advocate that Fort Riley is a great place to serve, train and deploy from, and that serves the national defense. “So we’re going to advocate very hard to get some of that force structure back to Fort Riley.”
The post has 77,000 usable acres but compared to some other installations when total acreage is used in calculations Fort Riley can be at a disadvantage. Wiggins indicated there needs to be a move to joint training capability, and there will be contact with the National Guard. “We think that if we can get utilization for our maneuver units out at Smoky Hill Range Complex ( near Salina ), get that 35,000 additional acreage put into Fort Riley’s corner then on the military value analysis assessment we’ll ( Fort Riley ) go from number nine of divisional installations up to about number four, which is great for us.”
Community support will be a key in this effort. Wiggins added, “An installation is only as good as it’s community support. Fort Riley has always been blessed and the soldiers that have served there have been blessed by having communities that surround it that understand the importance of our military, and generally embrace our military.” WIggins wants to get the power of these communities behind the effort to increase formations, force structure and missions at Fort Riley. “Then we’ll make what seems to be the impossible possible.”
Wiggins is seeking to initially get a brigade combat team assigned to Fort Riley. One of those brigades typically includes approximately 5,200 soldiers.
Wiggins is a former commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley.