Unfenced Army property to be sold to German officials
STUTTGART, Germany — By this time next year, nobody will be living outside the wire at Robinson Barracks.
The U.S. Army installation is going to turn over a 10-acre slice of property where Americans live outside a security fence to the German government.
The unfenced property is being sold by the German government to the city of Stuttgart, which plans to develop the land.
U.S. servicemembers and their families will vacate those 45 apartments and houses over the next year.
Those who remain in Stuttgart would move to housing located inside protective fencing elsewhere in the area.
The push to eliminate the risk posed by the unfenced property was accelerated one year ago after Marine Gen. James L. Jones, commander of the U.S. European Command, ordered all garrisons within EUCOM to decrease or eliminate security vulnerabilities.
“I feel very strongly that I am responsible for the security of our installations, and that includes our families and the like,” Jones said in a February interview with Stars and Stripes.
“Even more so, now that a lot of our soldiers are downrange supporting [the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan].”
Stephen P. Cochrane, who helped broker the deal and is the U.S. forces liaison officer for Baden-Württemberg, said that final details still needed to be worked out.
“There’s not yet been a signed agreement,” Cochrane said. “That’s down the road a bit.”
Robinson Barracks, located on the city’s north side, is one of four U.S. housing areas in the Stuttgart area; the others — at Patch Barracks, Kelley Barracks and Panzer Kaserne — are all south of the city. Those three are completely encircled by fences.
Unlike the other three, Robinson Barracks is crossed by a public road, Roter Stich Strasse, which separates a fenced-in area of about 160 acres and the unfenced 10-acre slice.
The milelong road is used by buses as a shortcut to nearby Robert-Bosch hospital, and to get to nearby businesses and gardens.
The U.S. homes located outside the security fence are currently guarded by U.S. military and German police who patrol the area. Gates on either side of Roter Stich Strasse can be closed on short notice in case of an emergency.
The 8-foot green metal fence was put up around Robinson Barracks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., when the Pentagon issued stricter safety standards for its overseas installations. But public outcry prompted Roter Stich Strasse to remain open.
Col. Kenneth G. Juergens, commander of Army Garrison Stuttgart, said that protecting the garrison’s residents is a high priority.
“You can’t guarantee anything, but you’ve got to do the best you can,” Juergens said.
Juergens said the agreement would benefit both the city, which gets valuable real estate to develop, as well as the garrison, which would receive additional housing inside its installations from the German government to make up for the housing it’s losing.