Fort Riley, Kansas



Kansas leaders get hands-on tour

By Season Osterfeld | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | November 03, 2017

     About 45 members from all walks of life visited Fort Riley Oct. 25 as part of a Leadership Kansas tour of the installation.

     The group, who are all enrolled in the Leadership Kansas program, have been visiting different towns in Kansas since their session began in April. Fort Riley was their last stop before the program concluded at the end of October, said Liz Sosa, staff of the Leadership Kansas program.

     “We identify 40 leaders from across the state and immerse them in emerging issues and topics that impact the state while traveling to various geographic locations to see those topics in action,” she said.

     Jeff Poe, from Overland Park, Kansas, and member of Leadership Kansas, said he believes the program tries to keep the group as diverse as possible.

     “Leadership Kansas is a group of identified people from around the state,” he said. “I think it’s intentional that we are diverse in our jobs, in our ages, in our gender, in our backgrounds, certainly with the intention being that we are representing our entire state.”

     When the group first arrived at Fort Riley, they were taken to the Mission Training Complex and greeted by Col. Richard R. Coffman, 1st Infantry Division deputy commanding officer for maneuver, for a brief presentation on Fort Riley and the 1st Inf. Div., followed by a questions and answers session.

      Coffman spoke to them about what training is like for Soldiers at Fort Riley, as well as their economic impact on Kansas, relationship with the surrounding communities and the impor­tance of the civilian personnel who work on the installation.

     “Our Soldiers and our family members have embraced this state and they want to stay here,” he said to the group as he spoke of the large veteran and retiree population around Fort Riley.

      As the tour continued, the group tried their hands at several different simulators used by service members at the facility.

      Poe said he enjoyed the simulators and wished they had more time to try them out.

      “I’ve always been impressed by the mili­tary, so anytime I get to be close, I’m very thankful to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m re­ally impressed by the scale and organization (of Fort Riley).”

      Sosa added the Fort Riley visit was an im­portant part of the program because it ex­posed the members to something more than the local Kansas population.

     “It’s a great opportunity to expose them (the) arm of the military,” she said. “We do visit Fort Leavenworth when we’re in the Kansas City metro area, but this really gives them a hands-on experience of what it’s like to see how their Army folks is trained.”

     Casey Houghton, training and admin services coordinator for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, echoed Sosa’s sentiments and said it showed the members how the military affects their communities.

    “Fort Riley is an integral part of this com­munity, not only for the Flint Hills, but the entire state of Kansas,” he said. It’s impor­tant for representatives from all over the state to come here and see what it is that we do … Not only do they go back to their com­munities and they talk about how good the Army is and how good Fort Riley is for the community, but you never know who they’re going to be talking to that has a more direct influence on the future of Fort Riley.”

      When asked if he thought the group was having a good time in one of the simulators, he smiled.

      “I’d say yes considering I have to yell over all this machine gun fire,” Houghton said.

      Referring to the program overall, Poe said these tours and visits were important to de­veloping his and the other members’ under­standing of the state they live in.

      “I think without opportunities like this, most of us get stuck in routines where we just wouldn’t otherwise visit certain parts of the state,” he said. “This is a very intentional program in which we get to see all parts of the state and economic drivers of the state … I probably got to learn both of some of the successes of different parts of the state that I wasn’t aware of, as well as difficulties in dif­ferent parts of the state.”