Saturday, January 28, 2012

The future of Baumholder

With the recent speculation in the Stars and Stripes that 2 major units are slated to be leaving Europe the Baumholder community has been questioning what is going to happen. 

To see the article click here

This comes after a mayor's luncheon December 12th where Lt. Col. McAdoo reassured local mayors and German military officials that "Baumholder is going to be a thriving community." He named an array of construction projects and quality of life projects in the works for Baumholder that come to an investment of half a billion dollars. (See the write up for more details on the projects)

USAREUR spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday that no official announcements have been made “about which units are leaving” or about “which units may be coming to Baumholder.” But, he noted, Baumholder is also one of the Army’s “enduring” installations in Europe. 

This contradicts information given at the mayor's luncheon by Lt. Col. McAdoo that "Baumholder is also planning on receiving three additional units that will boost the garrison civilian and military population slightly. The 720th Explosives Detachment, the 51st Transportation Company and the 421st Medical Battalion Headquarters are expected to arrive this summer. "I think that's a total of maybe 175 Soldiers and their family members."

Despite the speculation, “nothing has been announced,” said Command Sgt. Major Augustus Wah, the command sergeant major for U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder.
“At the end of the day, we’re here to support and execute any decision that our senior leaders at the Department of Defense and Department of the Army make.”

So where is this rumor coming from that the 170th will be leaving Baumholder? Why can no one say for certain that it isn't true? 

To quote from the Stars and Stripes article, "The military community in Baumholder numbers roughly 14,000, including families and civilians, according to base officials. Of the 4,500 soldier authorizations for the garrison, 3,800 belong to the brigade, according to USAREUR. It’s possible Baumholder could host rotational units in the future, or be home to Army logistics units from elsewhere in Europe, since USAEUR’s logistics hub is right down the road from Baumholder in Kaiserslautern, Anderson said.

So what does this mean for the town if the majority of soldiers and families are sent back to the United States? The local community's economy  depends heavily on traffic from the base. In a report published in 1995 it was estimated that the economic dependence was somewhere between 16.1-20.3 % but Sigrid “Ziggy” Zimmer, 52, manager of the base’s Rheinlander club estimates many of the 4,000 or so Germans living in Baumholder that rely heavily on Americans for their livelihood, from renting Americans apartments to shuttling them around in taxis would lose about 70 percent of their business. Some are worried that if the families all leave and Baumholder is left only to rotational units that it may fall way to bars and strip joints. People are left wondering why is the government investing this money in a base that will be reduced to a training facility? Why are the people affected by these changes the last to be notified? 

I'd like to point out that this isn't the first time this scenario has played out in our small town. Take note of these articles from 2004 and 2007 which question the fate of  Baumholder, and yet here we are again 8 years later....


Perhaps the media should stop the rumor mill until official announcements have been made. 

I'm pretty sure that my family will be able to finish our full tour here and we would be unaffected by these changes but I do feel bad for anyone who just arrived and are frantically trying to enjoy what they can of  Europe while the have the chance. There isn't anything any of us can do about the situation but "hurry up and wait." To quote a fellow Army wife stationed here with us, "Que sera sera. What Army wants will be..."

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