Fort Riley announces Black Start Exercise

By Caroline CountrymanJuly 7, 2023

U.S. Army Fort Riley Garrison Headquarters, Summerall Hall
Fort Riley, KAN.- United States Army Fort Riley Garrison Headquarters, also known as Summerall Hall at Fort Riley, Kansas, July 5, 2023. (Photo Credit: Caroline Countryman) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Riley, KAN. – Fort Riley will be conducting an energy resilience readiness exercise, July 26, referred to as Black Start. The exercise is designed to test the installation’s emergency and standby energy generation systems, key infrastructure and equipment. Senior officials will learn from exercise outcomes about the infrastructure needs for crucial installation missions in the event of a power loss.

This Black Start exercise was designed following the congressional mandate requiring Department of Defense services to test their ability to operate without power in an emergency.

U.S. Army Fort Riley Senior Leader Update
Fort Riley, KAN. - United States Army garrison commander, Col. Michael J. Foote and U.S. Army Garrison command sergeant major, Cmd. Sgt. Major Jason R. Poulin at the Fort Riley Senior Leader Update, June 27, 2023, preparing to brief the Black Start Exercise for Soldiers, families and civilians at Riley's Community Center, Fort Riley, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Caroline Countryman) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Fort Riley garrison command team and Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security staff announced the Black Start Exercise at the Senior Leader Update, a town hall with Fort Riley leadership and community partners, June 27, at Riley’s Community Center.

“The preparedness and resilience of our Soldiers and families is already getting better because we are forcing them to prepare now,” said Col. Michael Foote, Fort Riley garrison commander. “Leaders and Command Family Readiness Representatives need to review their unit Exceptional Family Member Program packets and Family Action Plans to ensure their Soldiers are ready.” 

The exercise is scheduled to start at 4 a.m. and power restoration will begin around noon. Power across the installation is expected to be fully restored on by 1 p.m. Many facilities can expect services to start returning within 30 minutes to two hours after the initial blackout.

“This is kind of a NTC rotation for Garrison, the only difference is we have our families with us we have to take care of as well,” said Foote.

U.S. Army Fort Riley Garrison Headquarters, Summerall Hall
Fort Riley, KAN.- Inside of United States Army Fort Riley Garrison Headquarters, also known as Summerall Hall, wall art print displaying the U.S. Army Materiel Command Badge, U.S. Army First Infantry Division Badge and U.S. Army Garrison Crest, at Fort Riley, Kansas, July 5, 2023 (Photo Credit: Caroline Countryman) VIEW ORIGINAL

According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of Sustainment “Enhancing the military capability, readiness, and resilience of our installations and forces through assured access to resilient and cyber secure fuel and power.”

“Col. Foote and I keep getting asked, ‘why are we going through this exercise in July,’” said Cmd. Sgt. Major Jason Poulin, Fort Riley garrison command sergeant major. “We are doing this as our rehearsal for actions on the objective. All our strategic planners at the national level are saying we are going to feel impacts to our energy grid in our next engagement.” 

Power outages are frequent in today’s environment, whether from a natural disaster, like heavy snowfall, a thunderstorm or from an enemy threat.

“This is how we protect your families when you answer the nation’s call,” Poulin said. “That’s how the colonel and I look at the Black Start Exercise.”

The exercise will be challenging for those who work and live on post, but preparing in advance can reduce stress for everyone involved. Tips and important preparation information can be found on Facebook at U.S. Army Fort Riley and on the Fort Riley website at