Soldiers may replace civilian guards in Germany
By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 15, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Soldiers may take over security at Army posts in Germany if a contract to keep civilians at the gates isn’t signed in the next two weeks.
The Army’s contract with Pond Security, which has guarded Army installations in Germany for years, is set to run out May 28, and another firm’s bid to take over the job was thrown out in March after protests from rival companies.
The Army is in negotiations with Pond for a six-month bridge contract that would begin May 29 and give the service time to work out a long-term deal for civilian security guards at its posts in Germany. But if the bridge contract isn’t signed in time, U.S. Army Europe is preparing to replace Pond guards with soldiers on May 29 as a stopgap measure.
USAREUR has begun training soldiers for the job, though the command won’t say how many soldiers it’s training or what units they’re from.
“As a rule, we do not discuss specific force-protection measures, and it would not be appropriate to discuss how many soldiers would be used, which units would be used, or how long guard shifts would be,” USAREUR spokesman Bruce Anderson said Thursday in an emailed statement.
Pond employs some 1,800 guards at Army installations in Germany. Roughly 29,000 soldiers are assigned to USAREUR. While most of those are in Germany, the command would have to mobilize more than 6 percent of its soldiers in the country to match what Pond has at the gates.
Anderson said it is reasonable to expect some effect on productivity while soldiers are performing security duties, but that leaders would take steps to “mitigate that effect where possible.”
Even if the contract goes through, the Army may still need to provide soldiers to supplement the civilian guard force, according to Pond.
The company lost about 6 percent of its workforce between January and April amid uncertainty over a long-term contract, Chad Geier, the company’s chief of staff wrote in an emailed statement. The number of personnel calling in sick has also gone up, he said.
Pond is trying hard to recruit new guards “to stabilize and balance the damages we suffered,” Geier said.
A memo updating Pond employees on the bridge contract last week said the losses and sick calls “could result in soldiers working with us at the gates.”
According to the memo, Pond and the Army have already negotiated a deal that would keep Pond on the job through at least November 30. Two one-month options could extend their stay through the end of January.
That contract is not yet finalized, however. According to a spokeswoman for the 409th Contracting Support Brigade, they are still negotiating with Pond.
Pond Security Service, which provides security at U.S. Army installations in Germany, has posted help wanted signs in nearly all of its vehicles as it struggles to hire personnel amid uncertainty over its contract with the Army. The company is in negotiations for a six-month bridge contract.
Matt Millham/Stars and Stripes
Matt Millham/Stars and Stripes