About 6,100 troops to leave Würzburg by Sept. 2006
¶ Click here for a list detailing the when and where of 1st ID transformation.
About 6,100 soldiers are scheduled to move out of Würzburg, Germany, by September 2006, the Pentagon announced Friday, signaling the end of the U.S. Army’s 60-year relationship with the Franconian city.
After the soldiers leave, 11 bases in the area will be turned back over to the German government.
In addition to the soldiers, about 11,000 of their family members and 1,000 civilian employees would be leaving Würzburg and the nearby military communities of Kitzingen and Giebelstadt. About 1,000 host-nation employees would also be affected, according to a U.S. Army Europe official.
Two other lynchpins of that military community — Leighton Barracks, home of the soldiers’ main shopping and support facilities, and the U.S. Army Hospital, both located in Würzburg — would be closed sometime afterward.
The exodus is part of the 1st Infantry Division’s move back to the United States as part of the Army’s transformation, during which 38,000 soldiers and their units will leave Europe.
“The fundamental part of this whole plan or process of transformation is to position the forces around the globe in the new security environment,” said Robert Purtiman, a spokesman for USAREUR in Heidelberg.
The 1st ID’s soldiers and many of its units are expected to help comprise several of the 43 mostly U.S.-based “modular brigades.” The Pentagon sees the new brigades as having the flexibility and mobility needed to fight wars and perform peacekeeping and security operations in coming decades.
Russell Hall, director of the Installation Management Agency-Europe Region, which manages the bases to be closed, said steps are being taken to make the upcoming relocations and closings as painless as possible for the affected people.
“We’ll stay in touch and keep you informed so you can prepare for your moves, wherever they may be,” Hall said.
The bases to be closed include about 5,200 acres of land and 1,500 buildings owned by the German government but consigned under NATO law to the U.S. Army. After the bases are closed, the property would be taken over by the German government.
While Germany would be receiving the assets of land and buildings, the withdrawal of U.S. forces would make a significant economic dent in the affected communities. According to IMA-Europe, the 417th Base Support Battalion, which operates the installations, has a monthly payroll of more than 600,000 euros. More than 1,000 Americans live in the surrounding cities and villages and spend about 1 million euros per month in rent, utilities and shopping.
The 417th BSB also spends about 12 million euros per year to German companies for utilities, construction, maintenance and environmental services, according to IMA-Europe.
Stars and Stripes was unable on Friday afternoon to reach city officials from Würzburg, Kitzingen and Giebelstadt for comment.
The Army has had a continuing presence in the Würzburg area since the spring of 1945, when U.S. forces captured Leighton Barracks and other facilities from the German army during the final battles in Europe of World War II.
The timeline of when units move or become inactivated and when bases start to close is unclear, because they would first need a place to go, Hall said.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC, is currently assessing the Pentagon’s recommendations for the expansions and closings of U.S. bases. Among them is the Pentagon’s desire to move the 1st ID headquarters and some of its units to Fort Riley, Kan.
President Bush is expected to review the BRAC recommendations in September and could make changes to it. If the BRAC recommendations proceed as scheduled, then Congress would vote on the plan around November or December.
“The operation of returning [units to the States] is event-driven,” Hall said. “It really comes with the [BRAC] announcement and timing.”
If the BRAC plan is approved, Hall said, and after the U.S. facilities become ready to receive soldiers and families from Germany, then the packing and moving of individuals and their units could begin in earnest.
In turn, as troops and units begin vacating the installations throughout 2006, the arduous process of preparing the properties for their return to the German government in 2007 would pick up.
In addition to the 1st ID’s removal from Germany, the Wiesbaden, Germany-based 1st Armored Division is expected to be moved back to the States in 2008 and 2009, and its affected communities would have to undergo a similar process.
Installations slated to be turned over
Installations to close and be returned to Germany by September 2007:
Kitzingen family housingHarvey BarracksKitzingen training areaLarson BarracksSchwanberg Defense Communications Systems siteWürzburg:
Faulenberg KaserneWürzburg training areasBreitsol communications stationGiebelstadt:
Giebelstadt Army AirfieldGiebelstadt youth campGiebelstadt Tactical Defense FacilityInstallations to close and be returned to Germany at an undetermined date:
Leighton Barracks, WürzburgWürzburg Hospital, WürzburgSource: U.S. Department of Defense