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With about 2,000 3rd Brigade Combat Team troops returning from Iraq in the coming weeks, officials at their home base in Vilseck, Germany, have arranged to provide them with all the essentials of a successful reintegration: plasma TVs, hot dogs and portable toilets that play music when a soldier opens the door.

The amenities are some of the perks in the newest version of the tent cities set up recently in Germany to usher 1st Infantry Division troops through the seven-day redeployment process that tops off a mission to Iraq, said Greg Fobell, project manager for the Vilseck center.

Carpeted floors, Internet access and the musical lavatories are some of the little extras included in the $2 million “mini-base” opened at Vilseck this week to ease the 3rd Brigade back into life in Germany.

The reintegration center is based on a concept first tried out in Baumholder that has now spread to other bases including Schweinfurt, Würzburg and Kitzingen, Fobell said.

The tent cities consolidate all of a base’s administrative offices into a small area where soldiers can attend reintegration briefings and safety meetings just steps away from booths where they can register their car or meet with a bank representative.

But the mini-bases also have evolved to include leisure areas for the troops. At Vilseck, one of the six hard-shell tents is specifically dedicated as an R&R center, where soldiers can get a slice of pizza and watch TV between visits with a family services coordinator or financial consultant, Fobell said.

The 640-square-meter tents are large enough to handle hundreds of troops at a time, and will remain standing until the brigade finishes its redeployment in about six weeks, he said.

Though the temporary tent city comes with a high price tag, Fobell said it’s worth the cost to properly thank soldiers for their service in Iraq.

“A $2 million thank-you isn’t too much,” he said.


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