German workers upset / Pirmasen’s Closure?

German workers upset over potential post closure

By Marcus Klöckner, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Saturday, September 27, 2008


KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — German workers employed by the Army in Pirmasens are shocked and upset over news that the Army is developing a plan that would close the post where they work in 2014, a German union spokesman said.

Gerhard Hornbach, a spokesman for the German workers at Pirmasens’ Husterhöh Kaserne expressed disbelief regarding the U.S. Army Installation Command-Europe’s “Sembach AFB Reutilization Concept Brief.”

“I will get in touch with the people responsible in the subject matter as soon as possible,” Hornbach said. “It simply cannot be that we are not informed about such a plan.”

The brief, obtained by Stars and Stripes, outlines a plan to relocate several Army organizations and units to Sembach Air Base north of Kaiserslautern. Under the concept, Pirmasens’ Husterhöh Kaserne, which houses U.S. Army Medical Material Center Europe and U.S. Army Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment Activity, would be shuttered in fiscal 2014. About 350 workers are employed at the post, according to the brief.

An Army official said Friday that the brief is an internal working document that does not reflect approved plans for IMCOM-Europe or U.S. Army Europe.

“It’s one of many ongoing feasibility studies frequently conducted as a matter of routine to review facilities within the footprint for efficiencies,” said Ken White, IMCOM-Europe spokesman. “Standard procedure in any stationing matter involves coordination that includes both DOD and host nation officials prior to any official announcement. Extensive coordination is required before any plan is finalized and approved, and information in such draft documents frequently and dramatically changes.”

Hornbach declined to answer any questions regarding the numbers of workers possibly affected by the shutdown.

“I will not comment on the issue before I know what really is going on,” he said.

The Air Force is set to declare Sembach as excess in fiscal 2010, according to the brief.

If the concept becomes a reality, the first moves would begin in about two years and add hundreds of soldiers and civilians to the Kaiserslautern Military Community, according to the brief. Anywhere between 1,400 and 2,200 more people would work at Sembach under the plan, the brief stated.

Under variations of the plan, Sembach could house the headquarters for Europe Regional Medical Command, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, American Forces Network-Europe, Department of Defense Dependents 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.

Other units and activities mentioned as proposed Sembach tenants include the 230th Military Police Company, the 7th Army Band and the confinement facility in Mannheim.

Besides the Pirmasens post, the brief also suggests the closure of Pulaski Barracks in Kaiserslautern, Coleman Barracks in Mannheim and Nachrichten Kaserne in Heidelberg.

Stars and Stripes reporter Steve Mraz contributed to this report.