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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — There are nearly 37,000 U.S. military personnel living within U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr, with the number expected to increase dramatically in the next couple of years, according to a recent Army census.

In the next two years, more than 3,700 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team — along with their family members — will move from Schweinfurt to Grafenwöhr, pushing the military presence to 45,000, USAG Grafenwöhr spokesman Franz Zeilmann said Friday.

The move will take place in two phases, he said. The first phase will be during the upcoming months.

“Forty percent of the Dagger Brigade with approximately 1,500 soldiers and approximately 2,500 family members will move to Grafenwöhr by this summer,” Zeilmann said.

USAG Grafenwöhr includes four bases in Bavaria — at Grafenwöhr Training Area, Vilseck, Hohenfels and Garmisch. The Grafenwöhr Training Area community has seen and will see the most dramatic growth.

Two years ago, the base was home to slightly more than 1,000 military personnel.

But a $600 million expansion project, known as Efficient Basing Grafenwöhr, has led to large-scale construction of barracks, military housing and other facilities with the aim of hosting up to 4,500 active-duty soldiers and 7,000 family members, according to USAG Garrison Grafenwöhr spokeswoman Susanne Bartsch.

According to the census — conducted by USAG Grafenwohr’s Directorate of Resource Management — the population at Grafenwöhr as of Nov. 1 stood at more than 12,000. That included more than 2,000 soldiers, almost 2,000 civilian employees, and 4,500 family members. The rest are retirees, local hires, etc.

Vilseck also has seen large fluctuations in its population with the departure of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and the arrival of the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment in 2006.

The census estimates there are now more than 13,000 personnel at Vilseck, including almost 4,500 soldiers, more than 1,200 civilian employees and 7,000 family members. However, most of the soldiers are deployed to Iraq and are not expected back until November.

Hohenfels’ population has been relatively stable in recent years. The census estimates there are about 1,400 soldiers, 1,100 civilian employees and 3,000 family members there.

Garmisch, which recently became part of USAG Grafenwöhr, has only about 100 soldiers, 800 civilian employees and 1,200 family members, according to the census.

There are also about 650 hotel guests staying in the garrison at any one time, the census states.

The census data include about 4,500 local nationals working either as base employees or concession workers. There are almost 700 retirees living within the garrison. And, at any one time, there are almost 5,000 troops training at the garrison, including almost 1,000 foreign troops.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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