Subscribe

STUTTGART, Germany — Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe is preparing to adjust the way its schools are arranged in order to fit into the European Command’s transformation plans.

DODDS-Europe officials have been meeting regularly with officials from the U.S. European Command for updates on transformation but so far have not been told what will happen.

“We’re waiting just like everyone else,” DODDS-Europe spokesman Frank O’Gara said on Monday.

Still, DODDS weathered a similar shift in the early 1990s, O’Gara said, when the drawdown of U.S. forces across Europe slashed the number of schools, staff and pupils. Before then, DODDS-Europe had three regions — the Mediterranean, Germany and Atlantic; now it has just one, which is Europe.

The number of pupils also fell greatly. DODDS went from having about 90,000 pupils in Germany in the early 1990s to now having just 48,000 children in all of Europe, O’Gara said.

“No matter what happens, we will be there to serve the troops and their families,” O’Gara said.

If the Department of Defense wants DODDS to provide an education to children of military personnel and civilians in eastern Europe, that’s what the school system will do, he said.

“We can adapt,” he said. “We are a support organization to provide service to the military and go where we need to be.”

No transformation plan, or even a draft, has been released publicly.

The EUCOM chief of staff, Army Lt. Gen. John Sylvester, said EUCOM’s draft plan has been submitted to the secretary of defense and that no decision has been made.

He also said that no time line for transformation has been set.

“First, let me tell you that we know transforming EUCOM will require a lot of work and time to complete,” Sylvester said in a statement. “We know that change is difficult and that is why we’re committed to ensuring EUCOM’s people receive the best quality of life available during and after our transformation plan is implemented.”

One of the first tasks for U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Jones when he became EUCOM commander last year was to draft a plan for the more than 100,000 American troops stationed in Europe.

Under his draft plans, which are now in Washington, the military would reduce its presence in western Europe by shifting forces back to the United States, into eastern Europe and south to Africa.

Jones has talked repeatedly about a system that would maintain mission-important, existing bases and training areas, such as Ramstein Air Base and Grafenwöhr Training Area, forward operating bases such as Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and Spartan bases with little more than an airfield and living quarters for quickly deployable forces.

After the drawdown in the early 1990s, DODDS turned over buildings to host countries and reduced its personnel.

O’Gara said staff reductions, which occurred over a period of years, were not made via layoffs or reductions in force — or RIFs — the specific term for what happens to federal employees who lose their jobs because of downsizing.

Instead, administrators, teachers and support staff were cut by using retirements, reassignments to new postings and attrition, such as not filling a vacancy when someone quit.

O’Gara said recruitment of personnel and a commitment to quality teaching would continue, whatever the outcome of the transformation plan.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up