The Army has temporarily added 60 Italian employees to its payroll at Camp Darby to repair hundreds of pieces of equipment owned by units in Germany.

Jennifer King, a spokeswoman for the 405th Field Support Brigade, said all but four of the new workers have started their jobs and the others will begin soon. They’re all scheduled to work until the end of the fiscal year.

Camp Darby is one of the largest employers in the Livorno-Pisa area, with more than 500 Italians employed at various operations. The 1st Battalion, 405th FSB, which repairs, retrofits and stores equipment at the Leghorn Depot adjacent to Camp Darby, is the largest single employer.

It has more than 200 Italians employed at state-of-the-art facilities. Many have worked for the Army for decades. A congressional survey in 2003 indicated that there were too many workers for the job, though, and about 70 Italians were laid off in 2006.

King said she didn’t know if some of the recent hires had previously worked in the operation.

"I hope so," she said. "Layoffs are always a hard thing."

The new employees are being assigned to work on about 190 tracked vehicles of various kinds — most belonging to the 172nd Infantry Brigade — and about 160 generators from various units.

King said the workload for the brigade’s 1st and 2nd battalions, based in Germany, has been heavy recently "with so many units deploying and redeploying out of the European theater."

"We simply couldn’t keep up with everything in Germany," she said.

So the decision was made to send more work south of the Alps, where the facilities and equipment are in place, along with a skilled work force.

"They have a level of expertise and experience we simply couldn’t find anywhere else," King said.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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