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Grafenwöhr move has U.S. team abuzz with opinions

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — The Army’s decision to move the 2nd “Dagger” Brigade Combat Team to Grafenwöhr, Germany, over the next two years has the military community here buzzing.

For Sgt. David Steepleton, 32, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, the move is a great thing. “It’s going to make everything easier, especially the training … It’s a nice community; it’s got a family feel. I felt better when I was there.”

As a member of the 1-77 Steel Tigers, Steepleton was one of several soldiers who moved from near Grafenwöhr to Schweinfurt before the most recent deployment. “I’m originally from Vilseck … I love it.”

Not everyone feels the same.

One soldier from the 299th Forward Support Battalion said he’d rather not move.

“I’d rather stay. I’m established here,” Spc. Rodney Demaris, 22, said.

Unlike most of the Dagger units, the 299th is only moving a portion of its troops in the first wave of 1,500 soldiers. Demaris said he hopes he isn’t among those immediately affected.

Spc. Anthony Wicks, 21, of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, one of the units scheduled to move during the second phase, said he used to be in Vilseck and thinks the move would “suck.”

Although 1-18 isn’t leaving just yet, Wicks is. Scheduled to start final leave in a few weeks, Wicks said, “I’m glad I won’t be around for all this nonsense.”

After the announcement was made to the community during a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon, “Dagger” commander Col. J.B. Burton, held a news conference in the unit headquarters.

“This is the right move at the right time,” Burton said, citing immediate access to premier training facilities as a strong plus for the move. “The key is that the Army in Europe is relocating the Dagger Brigade to the premier training facility in Europe.”

As far as timing, Burton said that because of Dagger’s recent return from Iraq, more than half the soldiers and families in the unit should not be affected by the decision, due to normal career progression, personal moves, or, like Wicks, through separation from the Army or retirement.

Burton acknowledged that the decision may cause consternation for many soldiers and family members, and added that the brigade, and the Army, “remain absolutely committed … (to) working individual soldier issues at an individual level.”


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