BAUMHOLDER, Germany — A report in Thursday’s Stars and Stripes that Baumholder would remain a key part of the Army’s transformation plans in Europe surprised some German workers who thought the base’s days were numbered.

On Thursday, Marine Gen. James Jones, commander of the U.S. European Command, was quick to correct the record.

“I’d clarify that Baumholder is not a part of the Kaiserslautern Military Community, which does have strategic enduring value. Baumholder currently houses units of the 1st Armored Division, which may return to the U.S. at some point in the future, so it is not an ‘enduring’ installation as such,” Jones said in a prepared statement issued to Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

During an interview Wednesday with Stars and Stripes, Jones said Baumholder would survive as one of four U.S. Army hubs in Germany in the ongoing restructuring of U.S. military bases in Europe.

Many of the 500 German employees at Baumholder saw the Thursday Stripes story, said Harald Weber, deputy chairman of Baumholder’s Betriebsvertretung, or German works council: “We were really surprised.”

By early Thursday, however, Installation Management Agency-Europe officials told workers that Baumholder, the largest combat arms base outside the United States, it is not on the list of enduring military communities, Weber said.

In addition, Jones’ statement said, Stuttgart will remain the home of EUCOM headquarters. While it is a joint Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine command, EUCOM officials “consider it one of the four major enduring U.S. military communities in Germany administered by the U.S. Army.”

“I want to emphasize that the vision for our entire military force including all services in Europe is clear.”

But implementing that vision, he said, “is a work in process, including complex negotiations and decision processes. We are able to discuss some details, while others remain pre-decisional.”

Two years of awaiting Baumholder’s fate have made German workers at the base “nervous,” Weber said. He added that he believes the release of a final Base Realignment and Closure list of domestic bases — scheduled for May — may hasten final word on European bases, he said.

If Baumholder doesn’t make it, it will be a crushing blow for workers in this underdeveloped corner of Germany, according to Weber.

Baumholder, about 40 miles from Ramstein, currently has an American population of 12,000 people including 5,600 soldiers in seven major 1st AD units and a dozen non-division units.

“I can say that this area is the end of the world,” he said. “If the Army goes out, it’s going to be an economic problem for the whole area. “It’s going to be a disaster.”

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