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When is a fire chief not a fire chief? When he’s the director of emergency services.

Both positions basically serve the same purpose, but in the Army’s traditional structure, similar jobs on different posts often have different names.

That’s all about to change as the Installation Management Agency-Europe formally turns all Army barracks, bases, training areas and caserns into their new, uniform versions this fall.

For the most part, said IMA-E director Russell Hall, turning a base into a “standard Army garrison” should mean “a lot of name changes” in soldiers’ eyes when the official rollover takes place Oct. 1.

“It’s not really monumental, sweeping change,” Hall said.

But behind the scenes, where the roots of IMA-E’s move to standardize the structure of its bases date back to 2002, the project is one of glacial proportions. Huge and slow, standard garrisoning has been inching its way across Europe for up to a year in some places, triggering Base Support Battalion closures and office consolidations from Heidelberg to Hohenfels.

When the program is finally complete at the end of 2006, Europe will have a series of two types of garrisons — “full-service” and “tailored,” Hall said.

The new structure, Hall said, mandates that each full-service and each tailored garrison have the exact same administrative setup across Europe, ironing out redundancies and theoretically making coordination between bases easier.

The standard garrison structure is also designed to provide identical IMA-E services to military community members, no matter what post they visit, Hall said.

Popular offerings like auto skills centers and outdoor recreation programs will become part of a standard garrison service package, although local commanders will have the flexibility to keep services running in their community that aren’t on top of the IMA list, Hall added.

“In a very coherent decision process, they make a decision as to what you will have, and that may vary,” he said.

Hall said German nationals or U.S. civilians won’t lose their jobs if their organization is streamlined or their BSB is merged with another. Redundant military jobs, it’s hoped, will go away by “normal attrition,” when troops change stations or retire.

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