EUCOM construction budget will hint at which bases are in DOD's future plans
February 6, 2005
STUTTGART, Germany — When President Bush unveils his 2006 budget on Monday, the money he requests for military construction will give clues as to where the U.S. military will be stationed in the future.
For example, the big-money projects that were approved for 2005 were for bases that are going to be around for years to come, according to planners at the U.S. European Command.
Two-thirds of the $396.3 million being spent this year for EUCOM-supervised projects is being spent at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall in England, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and at the Army’s Grafenwöhr training area, also in Germany.
The money is being spent at places that have “enduring value” for the U.S. military, according to Army Lt. Col. Michael Moon, chief of the infrastructure branch, engineering division, at EUCOM’s logistics directorate.
“These are what we call the anchors to ‘transformation,’” said Moon, referring to the changes taking place within the four major service branches — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — as well as the overall U.S. military.
“It made sense when we built them, and they make sense into the future.”
Other U.S. military locations that are getting funds for 2005 construction include the naval bases at Rota, Spain, and Sigonella, Italy, which provide strategically important access to Africa and the Mediterranean Sea; the air bases at Lajes, the Azores, Portugal, and Aviano, Italy; a Department of Defense Dependents School at Vilseck, Germany, which serves the Grafenwöhr community, the Army Materiel Command in Livorno, Italy, and the U.S. Space Command in Thule, Greenland.
Moon warned that other bases would receive money for basic upkeep, especially for housing, but might not be part of EUCOM’s long-range plans.
Planning on the transformation of U.S. military forces to better cope with future missions has been going on for several years.
Under military transformation, some large Army groups are expected to move to the United States from their Cold War-era garrisons in Germany and South Korea. In Germany, the Wiesbaden-based 1st Armored Division and Würzburg-based 1st Infantry Division would be moved to the States.
The Base Realignment and Closure commission, a Congressionally appointed group, is scheduled to meet from May to September to map a master plan for stateside bases that could determine where the 1st AD and 1st ID are moved.
Also as part of transformation, the military intends to strengthen key existing bases while also establishing forward-reaching bases in Africa and Eastern Europe.
“We want to be allied with democracies,” said Moon, the EUCOM engineer.
In Germany, for example, the Grafenwöhr training site “will be the center of [Army] activity in Europe for the foreseeable future,” he said.
In Spain, Naval Station Rota has a port and an airstrip as well as ammunition and petroleum storage all within its sprawling fence-line. The Morón Air Base, also in southwestern Spain, is halfway between the United States’ East Coast and U.S. bases in the Middle East and is a perfect stopover for planes flying back and forth.
“Rota and Morón [Air Base] are both critical to the European in-route infrastructure,” Moon said. “Both of those bases are staying and both will have continued investment.”
The United States also is expected this year to finalize agreements with Bulgaria and Romania that would enable the U.S. military to train in those two Eastern European countries.
Most of the military-spending money that Bush asks for on Monday for the 2006 is expected to be approved by Congress, according to Tom Roberts, EUCOM’s legislative affairs specialist.
For the 2005 budget, the president asked for $427.4 million for EUCOM-supervised projects, but only $396.3 million ultimately was approved.
“The House of Representatives is expected to approve, but the Senate tends to knock a little bit out [of the president’s wish list],” Roberts said. “Then they reach a compromise somewhere between the Senate’s and the president’s budgets.”
Follow the money
A look at where the U.S. European Command is spending some of the $396.3 million from its 2005 Military Construction Budget:
Rota, Spain: Air Mobility Command, $4.3 million; U.S. Naval Forces Europe, $21.7 millionLajes, Portugal: Defense Logistics Agency, $19.1 million; U.S. Air Forces in Europe, $5.7 millionLivorno, Italy: Army Materiel Command, $26 millionSigonella, Italy: NAVEUR, $22.5 millionAviano, Italy: U.S. Air Forces in Europe, $9.2 millionVilseck, Germany: Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe, $9 millionGrafenwöhr, Germany: DODDS- Europe, $36.2 million; Tricare, $13 million; U.S. Army Europe, $77.2 millionRamstein, Germany: USAFE, $83.1 millionThule, Greenland: U.S. Space Command, $19.8 millionRAF Lakenheath-RAF Mildenhall, England: USAFE, $49.5 millionSource: U.S. European Command