Changes in Europe: By 2008 Some 8,500 1st Armd. Div. Soldiers and Family Members Will Be Relocated, Perhaps to Grafenwohr, the U.S. Army's Premier Training Site in Germany
Hasenauer, Heike, Soldiers Magazine
IN Bad Nauheim, Germany--home to Elvis Presley from 1958 to 1960 while he was stationed at Ray Barracks in nearby Friedberg--local city mayors gave a party for the families of Soldiers of the 1st Armored Division who were deployed to Iraq.
"Realizing the difficulty that many families are experiencing with their Soldiers deployed, we wanted to do something as a show of solidarity," said Bad Nauheim's mayor, Bernd Rohde.
"I've been the mayor here since 1981, and it's always been a great pleasure for me to be a part of the close German-American community," he said.
Similar events to show the support of the German people for American Soldiers in Iraq have been held throughout Germany, in the communities where German-American friendships have flourished for more than a half-century, he said.
Individuals have also reached out on their own to show their support for Germany-based U.S. Soldiers. [See related story, "Sending CARE to Iraq."]
Evolution of Change
For decades, the U.S. military presence in Germany prevented communist aggression, allowed former adversaries to gain first-hand knowledge of each other's cultures and lifestyles, and opened doors to lifelong German-American friendships.
The collapse of communism created dramatic changes in Europe in the last decade and resulted in closure of U.S. military facilities across the continent.
According to Doug Sims, chief of the Documents, Equipment and Stationing Branch, Documents Division, G3, in Heidelberg, the Army had two corps, or four divisions, in Europe from the 1960s to 1989. Two divisions each in V Corps and VII Corps were complemented by forward elements of the 1st Infantry Division.
At the height of the Cold War, some 220,000 U.S. Soldiers were stationed in Europe; in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, Sims said. They lived and worked at more than 600 installations throughout Western Europe. Now, one-third the number of installations accommodates about 65,000 Soldiers, Sims said.
Additionally, the 65,000 local nationals and Department of the Army civilian employees, collectively, within USAREUR have dwindled to 17,000.
The most recent round of base closures will affect communities across Germany between now and 2008. And some U.S. officials liken the scope of the impending changes to the widespread changes that altered the face of the continent when communism's "Iron Curtain" fell.
Since spring 2003 Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the commander of U.S. European Command, has been crafting a plan to transform U.S. forces in Europe, in keeping with the Army's plans to cut costs, improve training opportunities and locate military forces closer to future potential hot spots.
In May 2003 the Department of the Army announced that it would close about a dozen facilities in Giessen, home of the 1st Armored Division's 1 st Brigade and the 284th Base Support Battalion.
By 2008 some 8,500 1st Armd. Div. Soldiers and family members will be relocated, perhaps to Grafenwohr, the U.S. Army's premier training site in Germany. The Grafenwohr Training Area has already been identified as the future home of a brigade combat team, Army officials said. [See "Building Up Graf."]
Giessen's Military History
During World War II Giessen
Interacting with Soldiers deployed for Military Depot was home to German infantry troops. There was an aircraft maintenance hanger, and the German army used some of the buildings as detention cells for U.S. prisoners, said Petra Roberts, a spokeswoman for the 284th BSB, which encompasses U.S. military facilities in Friedberg, Bad Nauheim, Giessen, Butzbach and Kirchgoens.
U.S. Soldiers first arrived at the depot in March 1945.
After the war, "many German POWs were detained at the Giessen Depot. They were given the option to leave or sign a contract to work for the U. …