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WüRZBURG, Germany — The behemoth that is U.S. Army Europe transformation took a lumbering step forward Monday, with the release of a master plan that situates the units moving to Leighton Barracks from nearby installations later this year.

According to the Leighton Barracks Master Plan, units at Giebelstadt Army Airfield and the Kitzingen communities will be moved, and the installations closed by Sept. 30. About 23 units will be moving to Leighton.

However, things change in such a massive operation, and all dates are pending, said Steve Donnelly, director of public works for U.S. Army Garrison Franconia.

“That’s a nominal date we picked for the plan,” Donnelly said.

A timetable for when units are scheduled to move, inactivate or transform is also expected to be released in the coming weeks.

The master plan is one small cog in the Army’s grand vision to cut USAREUR’s troop levels from 62,000 to about 25,000 within the next four years.

With the 1st ID headquarters moving to the U.S. this summer and other unit inactivations and transformations happening in the garrison, Franconia spokesman Don Klinger said there will actually be fewer boots on the ground at Leighton after those 23 units set up shop this fall.

There are about 2,000 soldiers working on Leighton right now, he said, and that will shrink to about 1,300.

While the 1st ID headquarters is slated to stand up at Fort Riley, Kan., this summer, a rear party will remain at Leighton, Donnelly said.

Even if dates are not set in stone, 1st ID commanders and leadership of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, which is slated to move to Leighton from Giebelstadt, signed off on the master plan last week, along with the other units involved, Donnelly said.

“We talked with all the units in our footprint to make sure we understood what their plan is” before drafting the master plan, Donnelly said. “As far as I know, everybody is happy.”

The plan is still to hand the Giebelstadt airfield and the family housing, training areas and barracks at Kitzingen back to the German government by the end of the year, after an inventory is conducted, Donnelly said.

“We have to walk through every building before we give it back,” he said. “Our goal is to do them all by the end of the calendar year, and I think we will, barring anything unusual.”

In addition, U.S. Army Garrison Franconia will cease to exist by Oct. 1, and the Schweinfurt garrison will oversee Leighton, Donnelly said.

Faulenberg Kaserne, a smaller installation down the hill from Leighton, may stay open at least in part until the master plan is implemented, he said. Faulenberg originally was slated to be handed over later this year.

Most of the garrison employees work out of Faulenberg, Donnelly said.

“We want to get all that done, then we’ll turn around and figure out how to close us,” he said.

The master plan does not address what will happen to Leighton after 2007. The installation was named last year as one of the bases the Army will close at an undetermined date.

Donnelly said a plan will be started in a few months to determine Leighton’s fate.

“There is another plan for later on that we haven’t developed yet,” he said, adding that he understands the anxieties of Leighton employees, dependents and soldiers over the uncertainty.

“People are kind of nervous about what the future of Leighton is going to look like,” Donnelly said. “Even though this [plan] doesn’t address the future of Leighton, it does address it through next year.”

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