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Politician and Residents Speak Out Against Troop Reductions At Ft. Riley

ddrace, flickr Creative Commons

More than 2,000 Kansas residents attended a town hall meeting on Monday to show support for Fort Riley.

The Army is planning to cut personnel there from a war-time high of 570,000 to 450,000 at the end of 2017, then to 420,000 by the year 2020.

Fort Riley employs more than 25,000 military and civilian workers, and fort officials say as many as 16,000 could be dismissed or redeployed.

Manhattan salon owner Terry Deweese estimated that about half of his customers are military and many of his employees are military spouses.

Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas spoke in favor of keeping personnel at current levels at the base.

Moran said that the 2011 sequestration "makes no sense at a time when our country is in jeopardy."

Mark Sanner of Wamego said that although troop reductions would severely affect his business, he doesn't fault the decision-makers in Washington.

"They have to look at the big picture and none of us like paying taxes, so they're trying to do what's right," Sanner said.

Governor Brownback said after the meeting military officials had told him the state could help persuade the Pentagon avoid Fort Riley cuts by providing well-funded schools for military families, high-quality infrastructure in the area around the base, and the possibility to connect the base to renewable energy sources.

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