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Army may move into Sembach Annex


By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

U.S. military officials insist no decisions have been made on the future of Sembach Annex, despite a recent public assurance by a senior Army official that the Army was going to take over the base.

At a town meeting last month at Vogelweh, an audience member asked: “What’s happening with Sembach? Many us still live and work out there. Many of us agree we don’t want to drive to the [new Kaiserslautern Military Community Center].” The center is a large lodging, entertainment and shopping facility on Ramstein Air Base.

Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, the outgoing Kaiserslautern garrison commander, answered: “Eventually Sembach is going to be an Army installation … We’ll make sure you have a place to go (shop) and a place to eat. We’re not going to forget about you.”

But Hale, who relinquished command on Friday, would not elaborate on her statement when approached after the meeting.

“It’s still too premature to talk about Sembach,” she said. “The study is still being done.”

U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Army Installation Command-Europe officials said the Army and the Air Force are working together “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.”

The Army and Air Force have been studying future alternatives for Sembach since at least last summer.

An IMCOM-Europe brief dated Aug. 28, 2008, obtained by Stars and Stripes last fall, detailed several different proposals for Army reutilization of Sembach. Under variations of the plan, Sembach could house the headquarters of Europe Regional Medical Command, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, American Forces Network-Europe, Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Europe, Army and Air Force Exchange Service-Europe, Installation Management Command-Europe, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe and U.S. Army Garrison-Kaiserslautern.

Under all the courses of action in the Army plan under development, IMCOM-Europe would take possession of Sembach when the Air Force vacates the base in fiscal 2010, according to the brief. USAFE officials gave no indication whether indeed it plans to vacate Sembach in fiscal 2010, which starts in October.

But Air Force activity at Sembach clearly continues to ramp down.

Currently, 105 active-duty airmen are assigned to Sembach, Air Force officials said Monday, and only a handful of military units still work on the base. The child development center closed in June, according to officials with the 435th Air Base Wing at Ramstein.

One local German politician said he’s heard speculation about the future of Sembach but nothing certain.

“I heard several months ago Sembach will become an Army post,” said Christoph Stumpf, mayor of Münchweiler, a community near Sembach. “There are a lot of rumors out there what will happen in and around Sembach … but I cannot confirm any of the rumors. However, what seems to be sure is that the U.S. military stays in Sembach and that is very positive since the military is an economical factor for the region.”

Reporters Steve Mraz and Marcus Kloeckner contributed to this story.

By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes European edition, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

U.S. military officials insist no decisions have been made on the future of Sembach Annex, despite a recent public assurance by a senior Army official that the Army was going to take over the base.

At a town meeting last month at Vogelweh, an audience member asked: “What’s happening with Sembach? Many us still live and work out there. Many of us agree we don’t want to drive to the [new Kaiserslautern Military Community Center].” The center is a large lodging, entertainment and shopping facility on Ramstein Air Base.

Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, the outgoing Kaiserslautern garrison commander, answered: “Eventually Sembach is going to be an Army installation … We’ll make sure you have a place to go (shop) and a place to eat. We’re not going to forget about you.”

But Hale, who relinquished command on Friday, would not elaborate on her statement when approached after the meeting.

“It’s still too premature to talk about Sembach,” she said. “The study is still being done.” U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Army Installation Command-Europe officials said the Army and the Air Force are working together “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.”

The Army and Air Force have been studying future alternatives for Sembach since at least last summer.

An IMCOM-Europe brief dated Aug. 28, 2008, obtained by Stars and Stripes last fall, detailed several different proposals for Army reutilization of Sembach. Under variations of the plan, Sembach could house the headquarters of Europe Regional Medical Command, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, American Forces Network-Europe, Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Europe, Army and Air Force Exchange Service-Europe, Installation Management Command-Europe, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe and U.S. Army Garrison-Kaiserslautern.

Under all the courses of action in the Army plan under development, IMCOM-Europe would take possession of Sembach when the Air Force vacates the base in fiscal 2010, according to the brief. USAFE officials gave no indication whether indeed it plans to vacate Sembach in fiscal 2010, which starts in October.

But Air Force activity at Sembach clearly continues to ramp down.

Currently, 105 active-duty airmen are assigned to Sembach, Air Force officials said Monday, and only a handful of military units still work on the base. The child development center closed in June, according to officials with the 435th Air Base Wing at Ramstein.

One local German politician said he’s heard speculation about the future of Sembach but nothing certain.

“I heard several months ago Sembach will become an Army post,” said Christoph Stumpf, mayor of Münchweiler, a community near Sembach. “There are a lot of rumors out there what will happen in and around Sembach … but I cannot confirm any of the rumors. However, what seems to be sure is that the U.S. military stays in Sembach and that is very positive since the military is an economical factor for the region.” Reporters Steve Mraz and Marcus Kloeckner contributed to this story.

Stars & Stripes