Flint Hills leadership members tour Fort Riley
November 30, 2012
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Planning missions, driving military vehicles and firing weapons may be part of the day-to-day life of a Soldier, but for most members of the Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program who visited Fort Riley Nov. 15 to 16, these tasks are out of the ordinary.
The program members learned a little bit about what it means to be a Soldier during their two-day visit to the prairie post.
"Seeing it firsthand gives you a much better perspective and understanding of a little bit of what's going on out here," said Lance Evans, senior planner, City of Manhattan.
Evans and 17 of his program classmates visited Fort Riley as one of five sessions of the Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program -- a program with the goal of helping participants learn more about the region and educate future community leaders. The other educational sessions took place in Geary, Potawatomie and Riley counties, and at Kansas State University, Manhattan.
While at Fort Riley, participants completed classroom work at Riley's Conference Center; attended a command brief; ate lunch at Cantigny Dining Facility; toured Fort Riley; and visited the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley Regional Training Campus.
Evans had only been to Fort Riley a few times, and he said the November visit was "very interesting -- very enlightening."
"I'd been out here for other activities on the main part of the base," he said, "but I'd really not been out and looked at the training areas."
Other class members had more experience at Fort Riley. Aaron Apel, small business owner of a bike shop in Manhattan, said he has worked with representatives at Fort Riley on a few different projects, including ideas for a mountain bike trail on post. Apel and members of his business also have attended events like the Great Escapes Expo and the Splash-N-Dash triathlon.
"In my mind, there's two huge entities in the Central Flint Hills Region -- there's (K-State), and there's the military base. And the university, I think, is a lot easier for people inside the community to understand because everybody's gone to a university or been in a university-like atmosphere," Apel said. "Most people don't understand that (Fort Riley) is essentially a city in and of itself -- it's self-sufficient … When people hear 'military base' they think, 'off limits'; 'I don't know what is going on out there'; 'I don't want to know what is going on out there.' When you open this up, your civil and military relations improve." Even those with decades of experience at Fort Riley said they learned something new.
Daphne Maxwell, Legal Administration, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, has been at Fort Riley on and off since she was a child -- her father was stationed at Fort Riley, and she married a service member from Fort Riley. As a civilian employee, serving since 1986, Maxwell said she was impressed by the Soldiers she met and the places she visited.
"I was inspired by our Soldiers and how passionate they were about the jobs they do and how they were so eager to show what they do, yet they were so humble," Maxwell said.
For many, the highlight of the visit was the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley Regional Training Campus, which includes the Medical Simulation Training Center, Close-Combat Tactical Trainer, Warrior Skills Trainer, Mission Training Complex and static displays.
While at the training campus, class members were able to participate in simulations of a combat scenario in Iraq by driving military vehicles and firing weapons during a virtual training -- similar to training Soldiers would go through before going out into the field.
"What we're trying to show is how we're trying to leverage technology, leverage what's out there commercially available, leverage what's out there that our younger Soldiers understand in order to not only enhance their training, but also by going through simulations and virtual reality, reduce the cost -- the cost of the fuel, the cost of the ammunition and the noise," said Bill Rayman, chief, Training Division, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "We still have to go out and do those things. We still have to go out in the field and train, but if we can come in here and train before in virtual reality and simulations, we really reduce the time we need to be out there."
Rayman said visiting the training campus is an important component for groups like the Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program because they get to see and understand more about Fort Riley.
"It's important for folks to understand that we are trying to be very good stewards of the dollars that they provide for their Army to train," he said. "We do the best we can to economize and save as much money as possible. It's important for them to understand what we're doing and to also understand that when they do hear noise go off, we're doing our best to be good neighbors to the community and reduce that as much as we can."
Since the inception of the Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program, Fort Riley has been one of the five sessions included in the course curriculum.
"It's important because of the impact it has on our region," said Aileen Cray, executive director, Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program. "Like the university, it just plays a key role in economic development -- it has jobs, and it is a magnet in attracting people to this area."
Cray, who works for the United Way in Geary County, also said Fort Riley touches virtually every community in the CFHR.
"It behooves us to be aware of the installation itself and what all is here because I think for those of us who do not work on the post, it's so eye-opening. And, if you've not ever been in the military or part of a military Family, you just kind of go, 'Wow,'" she said. "It's really incredibly enlightening. And just to have the opportunity to meet some young Soldiers and interact with them and to be able to thank them personally for what they do for us is a very important element that all of us need to be aware of in this region."
About the Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program
The Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program was incorporated in 1991 as a result of a white-paper study conducted in the region.
"One of the concerns in our region was where is the future leadership going to come from, and who will take this region forward," Cray said. "So, this course was established by the people who had done all of that work.
The program was built on six principles:
• Awareness of regional strengths and resources.
• Economic development and building entrepreneurial spirit.
• Encouragement of friendships and networking between persons from all parts of the region to eliminate destructive parochialism.
• Understanding and commitment to servant leadership.
• Acquisition of 21st Century leadership skills.
• Completion of a class project.
The first class completed the program in 1993 to 1994.
Cray said the program is forward-thinking in terms of regionalism.
"Its purpose is really to help people to get to know one another, to help break down parochial borders between the counties and the main cities and to allow us to learn more about each other and establish relationships and bridges -- to build those bridges of communication," she said.
This is accomplished through a series of sessions throughout the CFHR. Participants complete a two-day orientation retreat, five and one-half days of educational sessions and a celebration banquet.
The sessions cover community concerns in the areas of quality of life, government, crime, business and economic development, community services, education, health care and the media.
As a small business owner, Apel said the program has already allowed him to grow networking opportunities.
"It's a tool that I'm using to leverage resources that I know exist in the community, but I didn't know how to leverage," he said. "Getting contacts and understanding what the key leadership pieces are -- because if you want to do anything in leadership, you have to have a foundation in what the key components and variables are."
Eight Fort Riley civilian employees are members of the 2012 to 2013 Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program class. They are: Angela Stewart, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; Carol Fittro, Plans, Analysis and Integration Office; Daphne Maxwell, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate; Levvy Allen, Network Enterprise Center; Lisa Jonas, Resource Management Office; Steven Milton, Directorate of Public Works; William Paskow, Directorate of Emergency Services; Chris Moon, Mission Support Element; and Flavia Hulsey, Garrison Public Affairs Office.
For more information about the leadership program, visit http://fhrlp.org.