HEIDELBERG, Germany — The Army has approved a three-year plan to shut down a cluster of bases in the Giessen area north of Frankfurt by 2008, according to a Pentagon announcement.

Home of 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade and the 284th Base Support Battalion, about a dozen facilities in the Giessen area will be affected.

The closures are part of the Army’s plans to consolidate forces at its sprawling Grafenwöhr training range while streamlining hundreds of bases across Europe, according to the Pentagon announcement.

The closures will impact approximately 3,400 soldiers and some 5,000 family members, Army officials said. Also affected are 270 U.S. appropriated fund civilians, about 140 U.S. nonappropriated fund personnel and approximately 230 local national civilians.

Dubbed “Efficient Basing East,” the closures will allow 1st AD’s 1st Brigade to set up shop in $300 million worth of new housing and military support facilities while shutting down the 284th BSB entirely. The transfers are expected to begin in 2006 and run through 2008.

“The closures will be completed incrementally during that timeframe as Brigade Combat Team assets are consolidated at one location,” according to the Pentagon announcement. “The concentration of assets at one site will enhance both training and deployment readiness by putting six battalion-sized units adjacent to its major training area.”

Here’s the closure timeline:

• MacArthur Family Housing Area in Friedberg, the George Gershwin Family Housing Area in Wetzlar and the Alvin York village Family Housing in Bad Nauheim will close in fiscal 2006.

• Ray Barracks in Friedberg, the Friedberg Training and Storage Area, Schloss Kaserne in Butzbach and the Roman Way Village Family Housing Area in Butzbach will close in fiscal 2007.

• Giessen’s Pendleton Barracks, the John F. Dulles Village Family Housing Area, the George C. Marshall Village Family Housing Area and Giessen Military Community Facilities will close the following fiscal year.

• Maneuvers at the Butzbach training area and range will end in 2008, and parts of Giessen Depot will also close.

In the works for several years, the announcement came as no shock to those in the Giessen area.

“Everyone understands this is really in the best interest of the Army,” said 284th BSB executive officer Michael Grizer. “Soldiers will get new barracks, battalion headquarters, motor pools, a new PX and commissary. It’s really going to be good move for them.”

It’s not such a great deal for the German civilian work force, however.

“Things are pretty somber for them right now,” Grizer said, “but there’s a bit of relief, too. People want to know something concrete. This has been talked about for years, but it’s easier to plan your life if you know for sure what’s going to happen.”

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