HEIDELBERG, Germany — Baumholder’s place as an enduring U.S. base is almost certainly assured, U.S. Army Europe’s outgoing commander said Tuesday.

Gen. David McKiernan said that keeping the U.S. presence there is part of a global basing plan the Pentagon soon will submit to the U.S. Congress.

McKiernan, who’s leaving USAREUR this week to become top commander in Afghanistan, said he hoped there would be an announcement within the next month.

Baumholder’s status has been an open question for some time as Army transformation has closed scores of Cold War bases throughout Germany.

McKiernan, who last year argued that keeping more U.S. troops in Germany than Army Transformation planned would better serve longtime alliances and national security, said that both USAREUR and the U.S. European Command had requested to keep Baumholder open.

They asked that it be put in a category of “main operating bases,” McKiernan said.

“OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) staff has agreed to it and it’s in the master plan that will be submitted to Congress this spring,” he said.

The pending decision is being greeted favorably by German city officials.

“We are very happy that the Americans will stay there. They (have been) there for many, many years and (the Germans and Americans) are used to each other,” Baumholder District Mayor Volkmar Pees said Tuesday.

Pees said he has been to Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels looking at their housing projects tailored for Americans.

There are 2,000 to 3,000 families living off-base in Baumholder, he said.

Stars and Stripes’ Moni Koch in Griesheim, Germany, contributed to this report.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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