HEIDELBERG, Germany — The Department of Defense and U.S. Army Europe announced June 23 several base closures and associated force structure changes. These actions represent the next steps in U.S. Army in Europe’s ongoing transformation process.
Between now and December 2015, U.S. Army Europe is scheduled to close 22 installations in the Heidelberg/Mannheim area and one in Giessen and prepare them for return to the German federal government. The installations are no longer needed because of ongoing transformation and consolidation efforts.
As part of the transformation process, most of the units and organizations currently stationed in the Heidelberg and Mannheim areas will relocate. The USAREUR headquarters is expected to begin moving to Wiesbaden in fiscal year 2012 and be finished by October 2014. Installation Management Command-Europe’s headquarters will move during the same time period.
“These actions support the DoD global posture plan, the U.S. European Command theater posture plan and the U.S. Army’s transformation, and are necessary to ensure USAREUR has the right force in the right place to meet mission requirements,” said Brig. Gen. Allen Batschelet, USAREUR’s chief of operations. “Over the past several years, we’ve modernized our force, including creating the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, integrating the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, transforming our airborne forces into the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and transforming the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. We’re modernizing our force and consolidating onto Main Operating Bases to be more effective and more efficient.
“This announcement represents significant change for many of our Soldiers, employees and their family members,” Batschelet continued. “We know this is going to create challenges for them, but I can assure you that Army in Europe leaders are committed to keeping the Army in Europe community informed during this process, and ensuring that services and quality of life are maintained at the highest level possible.”
This portion of USAREUR’s transformation is a complex military operation involving at least 70 distinct unit actions. Because of the complexity, and to set the conditions for the final movements and closures, these actions will be completed in three phases.
Throughout all three phases, medical and other quality of life services will continue to be adjusted to meet the needs of the community. Department of Defense Dependents Schools officials will assess school programs and facilities to best adjust their support as enrollments decrease. Family housing in the affected installations will be vacated by attrition, and the garrison will direct new assignments within the Mannheim/Heidelberg footprint as appropriate.
Phase 1 has already begun, and is largely focused on the Mannheim community and its tenant units. USAREUR anticipates a 50-percent reduction of the Mannheim garrison population by the summer of 2010. Units from Taylor, Tompkins and Hammonds barracks will consolidate mostly on Coleman and Spinelli barracks, as well as a small enclave at Sullivan/Funari/Benjamin Franklin Village housing area.
IMCOM-Europe expected to inactivate U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg by the end of June 2010, followed by the inactivation of USAG Mannheim by the end of May 2011. Although these garrisons are scheduled to be inactivated, quality of life support will continue and be adjusted over time as the population decreases. USAG Baden-Württemberg will provide garrison support for remaining units until it is inactivated by the end of September 2014.
The Schwetzingen Training Area and the Mannheim Class III Point are expected to be returned to the host nation in the summer of 2010. Hammonds and Taylor barracks are expected to be returned by December 2010.
Phase 2, which begins in October 2011 and ends in December 2014, continues the focus on the Mannheim community and also sees one Heidelberg-based unit, the 529th Military Police Company, beginning its move to Wiesbaden. By summer 2012, most of the Soldier population in Mannheim will have departed. The Sullivan/Funari/Benjamin Franklin Village housing area enclave will be vacated, and is expected to be returned to the host nation by the end of 2014.
By December 2014 all remaining Mannheim units are expected to be consolidated on Coleman or Spinelli Barracks, and will rely on USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg for quality of life support.
Phase 3, which begins in 2012, focuses on the relocation or inactivation of remaining Heidelberg and Mannheim units, and ends by December 2015 when all personnel have departed and the installations are returned to the German federal government. The only exceptions are the Germersheim Army Depot, the Heidelberg AFN Relay Facility and the AAFES Grünstadt facility, which will fall under the control of USAG Kaiserslautern.
This phase includes the moves of the USAREUR and IMCOM-E headquarters and associated units. While this transformation announcement is not related to the recent Quadrennial Defense Review recommendations, the QDR has an impact. If the QDR recommendations are implemented and Headquarters, V Corps remains in theater, it will also relocate to Wiesbaden by October 2014.
The changes will decrease the U.S. Army’s total population in Germany by approximately 7,500 U.S. personnel — 1,500 Soldiers, 1,500 U.S. civilian employees and an estimated 4,500 family members, as well as 1,045 local national employees. In addition, approximately 3,500 Soldiers, family members and U.S. and local national employees will be affected by unit moves to locations within Germany that have not yet been finalized. In Italy the return of a transportation platoon based in Vicenza to the United States will result in the decrease of approximately 50 Soldiers and 70 family members.
“These actions are the last significant events in the transformation process USAREUR started in 2003, and we don’t expect any new major changes once we have finished these moves. However, everyone should realize that we regularly assess our structure and stationing to make sure we have the right units in the right places. Change is one thing that has been pretty constant throughout my career and USAREUR’s history,” Batschelet said.