Medical unit's relocation plans are on hold
December 31, 2003
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — The war in Iraq has put on hold at least one major V Corps move affecting about 300 military slots.
The 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion Headquarters is staying put in Wiesbaden — 1st Armored Division headquarters — possibly through mid-2005, said Bill Roche, a spokesman at V Corps headquarters in Heidelberg.
Last December, U.S. Army Europe officials announced plans to relocate the medical evacuation battalion headquarters and two of its four ambulance companies about 250 miles southeast to Katterbach, an effort that was to have begun last summer.
Now those moves probably won’t begin until next summer.
The delay comes in part because the 421st is deployed to Iraq. USAREUR officials also are looking at the destination base’s logistics “to make certain everything is there the unit needs,” Roche said. He emphasized that once the relocation to Katterbach is approved, the plan isn’t expected to exceed one year.
Units attached to V Corps and the 1st AD are tentatively scheduled to return to Germany from Iraq next spring, with the 421st required to submit a new relocation time line by June 2004, Roche said.
The 421st headquarters and one of its companies — the 159th Air Ambulance — were scheduled to move to Katterbach Army Air Field near Ansbach from Wiesbaden Army Airfield in west-central Germany. A second 421st company, the 557th Ground Ambulance Company, was to move to Barton Barracks in Ansbach from Wiesbaden airfield.
The moves were meant to consolidate similar ambulance units — ground with ground, air with air — for greater efficiency, Hilda Patton, V Corps spokeswoman said when the plans were announced last year. The relocations do not affect Department of the Army civilian or local national positions, she said.
The plans do not involve base closings or force reductions, according to USAREUR news releases. However, since the announcement, U.S. European Command and Pentagon officials have said a number of U.S. Army bases in Germany will close. Roche said he has no information on how that might affect the 421st move.
The battalion headquarters provides command and control for three air ambulance companies and one ground ambulance company, Patton said.
The number of personnel affected at the time was:
55 in the 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion Headquarters;122 at the 159th Air Ambulance Company;116 at the 557th Ground Ambulance Company.The relocations will not affect the battalion’s other two companies. The 236th Air Ambulance Company remains in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and the 45th Air Ambulance Company already is at Katterbach.