Consolidation of 173rd now expected to be June 2013
VICENZA, Italy — The latest projection for the consolidation of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, currently split between Germany and Italy, into a single community is June 2013.
Col. David Buckingham, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Vicenza, told a group of Italian civic leaders Thursday he expects about 2,000 soldiers and their families to move from Bamberg and Schweinfurt, Germany, during the summer of 2013. Phase two of a massive construction project at the Dal Molin air field designed to provide offices and support facilities for the brigade and housing for about 1,200 single soldiers is to be completed by then.
“We’re very happy today to sort of peel back the veil on Dal Molin and have you see this project,” Buckingham told those gathered for a slide show and brief tour of the base. Mayors or designates from all 123 villages, towns and cities from the province of Vicenza were invited; about half attended.
None of the projects is completed, but dozens of facilities are under construction. About $187 million – roughly two-thirds of the projected construction costs – has been spent on 31 buildings and preparations so far, according to information provided to the mayors.
Construction, which began in March 2008, is expected to be completed by December 2012. That’s a few months later than the last public projection of the fall of 2012.
Poor weather conditions, clearing unexploded ordnance — 49 from Italian and British militaries some dating to World War II — and archaeological work contributed to construction delays, officials said.
The first U.S. personnel – some assigned to U.S. Army Africa – are expected to move into Dal Molin in January 2012, followed in June by four battalions and the headquarters element of the 173rd. The brigade’s two infantry battalions will remain at Caserma Ederle, a 15-minute drive away. The remainder of the U.S. Army Africa staff is scheduled to make the move across town in June 2014.
Once the base is fully occupied, Vicenza will be home to the largest U.S. military presence in Italy in terms of population, with about 5,000 troops spread between Dal Molin and Caserma Ederle.