New Fort Riley garrison commander assumes leadership
By SAVANNAH RATTANAVONG | The Manhattan Mercury | Published: July 18, 2020
MANHATTAN, Kan. (Tribune News Service) — Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division officially welcomed its new garrison commander Thursday when Col. Stephen Shrader handed the reins over to Col. William McKannay during a ceremony.
McKannay assumed command after having most recently graduated from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, earlier this year.
“(It’s) very exciting and humbling to be selected for not just garrison command but for here in Fort Riley, home of the 1st Infantry Division,” McKannay said Friday during a press conference. “(It has) such a wonderful history, a strong history, not only of an Army installation that is kind of at the forefront of the Army’s mission, but also in building the readiness of forces to support our national security objectives. ... Being able to be a part of Fort Riley and 1st Infantry Division is really a significant moment for me.”
According to his biography, McKannay originally enlisted in the Army, earning a commission in 1997 after graduating from Northern Arizona University through the Green to Gold ROTC scholarship program. His military career has included tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and McKannay has served in several different positions across the Army and Joint Forces in the generating and operating force.
Shrader, the former garrison commander, had served in the position since 2018. He will soon be assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as the chief of staff of the 101st Airborne Division.
McKannay said he and his wife moved to the area a few weeks ago and have been adjusting, with plans to explore more of the surrounding communities and the Flint Hills region. Having mostly grown up in the west because of his father’s career with the Marines, McKannay said the openness and big skies of Kansas have helped make him feel at home.
He said Shrader has imparted much advice to help with the transition, but two of the biggest pieces McKannay said he will work on is continuing to build upon the relationships between the community and Fort Riley, as well as working on ensuring soldiers and their families are taken care of with the best resources and facilities available.
“I have to be ready from day one to support the soldiers and the families here to make sure that we are enabling readiness,” McKannay said. “... I couldn’t be blessed with a better team. A lot of the strength here in the garrison are Department of the Army civilians who have been here for years working the mission I just talked about. It’s a tremendous team that I know will help me in accomplishing those goals.”