WIESBADEN, Germany — As the U.S. Army celebrated its 237th birthday Thursday, the Wiesbaden military community hailed past Army leaders, formally putting their names to buildings and installations at the new home of U.S. Army Europe headquarters.
USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said Thursday’s ceremonies showcasing completed construction projects in Wiesbaden marked the beginning of the final stretch of USAREUR’S transformation. Hertling said he anticipates the closing of USAREUR headquarters in Heidelberg and the full relocation to Wiesbaden around September of next year.
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden spokeswoman Anemone Rueger said the consolidation of USAREUR headquarters with its military intelligence and signal assets at Wiesbaden allows for the closure of more than 40 sites in Heidelberg, Mannheim and Darmstadt and will save about $112 million in annual operating costs.
Wiesbaden currently has a military community population of about 17,200, including 3,000 troops, 3,000 civilian employees, 1,100 German employees, 9,000 family members and 1,100 retirees. Rueger said the Army expects the military community population to increase to about 18,500 with the relocation of USAREUR headquarters.
A cornerstone of more than $500 million in upgrades to the Wiesbaden military community is the General John Shalikashvili Mission Command Center. The “Shali Center,” as the building will be called, should be ready for occupancy early next year.
The $119 million, four-level, 285,000-square-foot building will house more than 1,300 workstations and a large Combined Operations Intelligence Center. Shalikashvili’s widow, Joan, smiled as she sat at her late husband’s desk and looked at his uniform, both on display at the entrance to the new building.
Shalikashvili, the first foreign-born chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served multiple tours in Europe, including stints as USAREUR’s deputy commander in chief, supreme allied commander Europe and the U.S. commander in chief Europe.
Also on Thursday, Wiesbaden Army Air Field was renamed Lucius D. Clay Kaserne.
Gen. Clay was the driving force behind the Berlin Airlift. The first relief flight carrying food, coal, medicine and other supplies left from Wiesbaden in 1948 in response to a Soviet blockade of West Berlin.
Outside the entrance to Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, Sgt. Robert Tickle, along with his wife and three children, received the keys to their new home. The Tickle family became the first to officially move into the $133 million Newman Village Housing Area, named after Col. James Newman, the former military administrator of the state of Hesse.
The new housing area features 326 single-family and duplex townhouse units, each boasting an attached garage and front and back yards. The housing area will also have two sports fields, a running path, gazebos and playgrounds.
According to Rueger, other projects slated to begin on the airfield within the next year are a new access control point, a new $91 million Consolidated Intelligence Center and a $30.4 million Information Processing Center.
A new $43.8 million Post Exchange facility is also slated for the Hainerberg community. Construction on the Army and Air Force Exchange Service-funded facility was originally slated to begin in February, but was delayed until October. AAFES officials say the new PX should open in November of 2014.
AAFES-Europe spokesman Hector Jamili said the 140,000-square-foot shopping center will have a food court featuring Burger King, Popeyes, Taco Bell, Manchu Wok and Pizza Hut. Jamili said they are also planning for a bakery, bank, flower shop, barber shop, a spa and other stands.