Topeka A Kansas Army National Guard infantry battalion with headquarters in Wichita is being eliminated as part of a national scaling down of U.S. military forces.
While none of the 814 members of the 1st Battalion of the 137th Infantry (Mechanized) will be discharged, they will be reassigned to other units in south-central Kansas, Maj. Gen. James F. Rueger said.
The battalion has its headquarters at the south armory in Wichita but also has units in Augusta, Newton, Harper, Winfield and Wellington.
RUEGER, the state adjutant general, told a news conference on Sunday at the State Defense Building that the Kansas reduction actually involves 824 positions, but 10 of them are from a specialized section that are not permanently assigned slots.
The Kansas cuts are part of a national reduction of 24,000 National Guard personnel, Rueger said.
Capt. David Marr of the 137th infantry division in Lawrence, said he was not aware of any changes affecting the Lawrence unit of the Kansas National Guard.
The Wichita infantry battalion, which supplied about 300 soldiers for guard duty when Andover was hit by a tornado last April, will have its colors struck by Sept. 30, 1992, and its flag retired, Rueger said.
The reduction won't force the discharge of soldiers, but the cuts do dictate a reorganization of the Kansas Guard and the possibility of units being moved from their present locations, he said.
Reassignment of the 137th soldiers will have to be completed by June, when the unit was scheduled for summer training at Fort Riley, the general said.
THE KANSAS Army National Guard now is running short by enough personnel to absorb the reduction, the general said. He said the Guard had anticipated losing a battalion but didn't know whether it would be an infantry battalion or an artillery battalion.
Rueger said he notified the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Craig Crane, of the decision to eliminate his unit Saturday night. He said Crane has begun to reorganize manpower in the Wichita area and was discussing the change with his troops ``to reduce the impact.''
The 1st Battalion of the 137th has 567 personnel in Wichita, 81 in Augusta, 70 in Newton, 38 in Harper, 31 in Winfield and 27 in Wellington for a total strength of 814.
Another 10 slots in a mess augmentation team assigned administratively to the Guard in Topeka also will be eliminated, Rueger said. That team supplies cooks to units for training purposes and is not activated with the units.
THE CUTBACK reduces the number of positions in the Kansas Army National Guard from 7,796 to 6,972. Rueger said that is the lowest personnel allotment since 1984 when the 35th Infantry Division was brought on line.
Rueger said the Guard hopes to learn from President Bush's State of the Union address Jan. 28 whether additional military reductions are coming.