Baumholder base's long-term fate remains unknown
November 20, 2004
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Department of Defense officials announced this week the return of properties across Germany to the German government, part of a decade-long effort to trim America’s post-Cold War military posture here.
Those include housing units at Baumholder, a 1st Armored Division base in southwest Germany.
But the long-term fate of Baumholder — the largest combat arms base outside the United States — apparently remains undecided under the Bush administration’s separate plans to restructure U.S. forces worldwide.
As part of that effort, administration and U.S. European Command officials confirmed earlier this year that they intend to repatriate the two Germany-based Army divisions, the 1st AD and the Würzburg-based 1st Infantry Division.
In August, Rheinland-Pfalz officials told Stars and Stripes that DOD officials were considering Baumholder — which includes 10,000 acres of training areas — for a U.S. Special Operations Command force to replace the 1st AD’s 2nd Brigade and Division Artillery here now.
A light special ops force would benefit both from the training ground and from Baumholder’s proximity to nearby Ramstein Air Base, about 30 miles to the south, the officials said.
However, DOD officials, who asked not to be quoted by name, told Stars and Stripes that a proposed increased SOCOM presence in Europe never included Baumholder. Department of Army officials said DOD officials have not passed down any decisions regarding Baumholder.
“Until there’s a BRAC list, there’s nothing new [concerning] Baumholder,” one DA official said.
The Pentagon is scheduled to recommend a round of domestic base closings under the Base Reconfiguration and Closure initiative in May 2005, recommendations that must be approved by Congress.
At the same time, under the Global Posture Review, the Bush administration is crafting an overall plan to close or realign 35 percent of foreign installations, and bring home nearly 180,000 military personnel, DOD employees and contractors and their families, according to a statement sent to Stars and Stripes from the office of Raymond F. DuBois, outgoing deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.