European Briefs: Top engineer post changes hand

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 11, 2007

WIESBADEN, Germany — There is a new commander at the helm of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District.

At a ceremony held Tuesday at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany, Col. Margaret W. Burcham relinquished command of the unit to Col. John S. Kem.

Burcham assumed command of the Europe District in July 2005. She leaves to lead the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region North District at Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq.

Kem, a Chicago native, most recently served as the executive officer to the director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. The organization was created in 2004 to counteract IEDs, the most lethal means of attack against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District provides engineering services to support Army, U.S. European Command and NATO initiatives, from construction projects to environmental efforts. In fiscal 2007, its workload was about $738 million, an increase of 22 percent from 2006, according to the district. In addition, the fiscal 2007 construction program amounted to $468 million, up 20 percent from the previous year.

Support battalion bids Dexheim adieu

DEXHEIM, Germany — The 123rd Main Support Battalion, created during World War II, nicknamed the "Mighty Main" and based in Dexheim for the past 16 years, has been inactivated.

At a ceremony Thursday at Anderson Barracks, the unit’s colors were cased, the fifth time the battalion has been inactivated since it was constituted in January 1942, the Army said. The ceremony was followed by a Texas-style barbecue for base personnel and their German guests.

The 123rd MSB has been based in Europe since 1971.

Battalion officials said the unit will reactivate at Fort Bliss, Texas, though no specifics were given. When it does stand back up, it will be known as the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion.

As recently as two years ago, the 123rd MSB had more than 900 soldiers in its ranks. By last week, that number had dipped below 200, according to Lt. Col. Dale Critzer, the battalion commander. The remaining soldiers should depart over the next few weeks.

The Army intends to hold onto Anderson Barracks for the time being, though no long-term plans have been announced.

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