Leavenworth Republican Sam Brownback said Thursday that if he is elected governor of Kansas he will encourage private-sector development of industries related to the Army training that takes place at Fort Leavenworth.
Brownback told supporters that the state needs to take better advantage of the training and education of military officers at Fort Leavenworth, where armies from around the world send officers for training.
“I am absolutely convinced the potential for this part of the state is significant. These unique assets in your area put you in a great position to grow,” Brownback said.
Brownback faces Democrat Tom Holland in November’s general election. Holland was campaigning in southeast Kansas discussing education.
Dana Houle, his campaign manager, didn’t speak to Brownback’s desire to increase defense-related jobs, but criticized the Republican for votes against health care proposals that could have benefited veterans.
“In Washington, Sam Brownback’s on the side of the special interests, so there’s no reason to think he’ll take the side of veterans, military families and their communities if he returns to Kansas,” Houle said.
Fort Leavenworth, established in 1827, is home to the Army’s Command and General Staff College and numerous training and doctrine centers that develop military strategies.
Brownback said more could be done to encourage more military retirees to settle in the Leavenworth area, and use their skills in new private sector ventures.
And he supports the construction of a convention center in Leavenworth to host military gatherings. Brownback said officers from across the U.S. military and some 90 nations should be able to stay and meet near the post, not be forced to hold gatherings across the Missouri River in Kansas City.
“We must do a better job of making sure all of those pieces are in place here in Kansas,” Brownback said.
If elected, Brownback said he would encourage more collaboration among the Department of Defense, private military contractors, research centers and state universities.
He said he would like to see Kansas University, for example, add a master’s degree in business focused on military contracting, similar to programs it has developed for supply chain management.
Kansas is also home to Fort Riley where the 1st Infantry Division is based, along with McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. Numerous defense contractors dealing in military hardware, such as a division of Boeing Co., are located near the Air Force base.
Brownback said that he would continue the tradition of a governor’s military council to keep working to maintain a military-friendly climate in the state to protect those installations.