Air Force to leave Sembach Annex

Officials: Possible transfer of base to Army still undecided

By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Monday, September 28, 2009

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force has plans to completely vacate Sembach Annex in the near future, U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials confirmed Friday.

But whether the move of the remaining Air Force units off the installation north of Kaiserslautern will precipitate the base’s formal transfer to the U.S. Army, as is widely speculated, is not known yet, officials said.

In a Friday e-mail to Stars and Stripes, USAFE spokesman Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Davis said that the Air Force has nominated Sembach to U.S. European Command headquarters as a “divestiture,” meaning it no longer needs the installation.

USAFE is working with U.S. Army Europe and Installation Management Command-Europe “regarding the future of Sembach and all organizations are examining whether the transfer of the installation from the Air Force to the Army makes sense for both services and the Kaiserslautern Military Community,” Davis wrote.

Any transfer of property must get the approval of the Secretary of Defense.

According to USAFE officials, the few remaining Air Force units at Sembach — the 21st Operational Weather Squadron, the USAFE Band, and an Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment, as well as parts of the 435th Security Forces Squadron and 86th Materiel Maintenance Squadron — will relocate to larger Air Force installations within the Kaiserslautern Military Community, a group of several installations.

USAFE’s stated reason: “To improve efficiencies.”

The largest of those units is the weather squadron, which includes some 100 Air Force, Navy, civilian and German employees, according to 86th Airlift Wing spokesman Aaron Schoenfeld. The squadron will move to Kapaun Air Station, adjacent to Vogelweh, by fall 2011, Schoenfeld said.

USAFE officials did not say when or where other units would be moved.

In the meantime, the Army’s 230th Military Police Company, located on Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Kaiserslautern, will move soon to Sembach.

USAREUR spokesman Mark Ray said building upgrades are under way to facilitate the move, expected to occur later this fall.

The move is part of an agreement between Army and Air Force officials that allows the unit to be stationed at Sembach on a reimbursable basis, Ray said.

Ray said no decisions have been made on whether any other Army units will move onto Sembach.