Thursday, January 8, 2015

Closing Bases

From the Stars and Stripes:
"RAF Mildenhall to close amid other Europe consolidations"

A major U.S. Air Force base in the United Kingdom and 14 other installations scattered across Europe will close as part of a sweeping reorganization of U.S. forces on the Continent, the Pentagon announced Thursday. Operations at RAF Mildenhall — home to Air Force special operations forces, air refueling tankers and 3,200 military personnel — will end, and missions carried out there will be moved to other locations, including Germany. RAF Alconbury and Molesworth, two other facilities in the U.K., also will close as part of a consolidation effort. Most of the missions there will be moved to RAF Croughton. Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to station two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath by 2020, which ensures the continuous presence of U.S. air power in the country. “In the end, this transformation of our infrastructure will help maximize our military capabilities in Europe and help strengthen our important European partnerships, so that we can best support our NATO allies and partners in the region,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement. The changes will mean a slight reduction in overall force levels, but troop numbers in Europe are expected to hold near the current level of 67,000. Germany and Italy will gain troops, though it is expected to take several years for all of the Pentagon’s basing decisions to be implemented. The Pentagon expects to save about $500 million annually from the consolidations. The cost of implementing the closures and consolidations will be roughly $1.4 billion, according to DOD. In part, the European Infrastructure Consolidation — under review for more than two years — grew out of the Pentagon’s desire to overcome lawmakers’ resistance to additional base closures in the U.S. through the Base Closure and Realignment Commission, or BRAC, process by showing a willingness to close facilities in Europe.
U.S. European Command boss Gen. Philip Breedlove, who likened the consolidation to a “European BRAC,” emphasized that his command’s operational capabilities remain intact.

List of planned changes in Europe:

United Kingdom
Divest RAF Mildenhall:
•    Returns the installation and four supported sites to the United Kingdom.
•    DOD intends to relocate the operational units at RAF Mildenhall within Europe — the assigned KC-135s and the 352nd Special Operations Group to Germany and the assigned RC-135s within the U.K. This paves the way for the stationing of two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath, starting in 2020.
•    Divest RAF Alconbury/RAF Molesworth: Consolidation of missions allows the permanent return of RAF Alconbury, RAF Molesworth and supporting sites to the United Kingdom. The majority of U.S. personnel, and many of the U.S.-funded host nation positions assigned to these bases will be transferred to RAF Croughton.

•    Close Mainz-Kastel Station — fully returns the site to Germany.
•    Close Barton Barracks — fully returns the site to Germany and relocates the Department of Defense Dependents Schools Bavaria district office to Grafenwöhr.
•    Partially close Pulaski Barracks in the Kaiserslautem area — returns part of the site to Germany.
•    Close Weilimdorf warehouse site — returns the site to German control.
•    Close two Baumholder waterworks — returns control to Germany.
•    Relocate HQs DISA-Europe from Stuttgart to Kaiserslautem.
•    Close Amelia Earhart Hotel in Wiesbaden.
•    Partially close Artillery Kaserne in Garmisch — returns two-thirds of the site to Germany.
•    Restructure the Army Air Force Exchange Services bakery and water distribution operations at Grünstadt.
•    Close Husterhöh Kaserne in Pirmasens — returns the site to Germany.
•    Relocate mail sorting/distribution from German Aerial Mail Terminal in Frankfurt to Germersheim Army Depot —  efficiencies and personnel moves only.
•    Create a distribution center of excellence at Germersheim Army Depot.
•    Consolidate various communication data centers across EUCOM.
•    Close commissaries at Illesheim and Sembach, as well as the four commissaries in Stuttgart at Kelley Barracks, Patch Barracks, Panzer Barracks and Robinson Barracks, once a new replacement store on Panzer is constructed.
•    Consolidate Defense Media Activity operations across Europe.
•    Consolidate communications, postal services and personnel management that support the U.S. mission to NATO and the U.S. military delegation to the NATO military committee.

•    Divest leased site in Brussels — Consolidation of U.S. facilities in Brussels to Sterrebeek.

The Netherlands
•    Divest Schinnen Emma Mine leased site, Netherlands and consolidate U.S. facilities at Brunssum.

•    Place a portion of the Pisa Ammo Storage Area, near Livorno, into caretaker status.
Partially close Camp Darby near Livorno. Returns about half of the installation to Italy.
Convert the Vicenza Health Center to outpatient and specialty care only.

•    Streamline operations and property at Lajes Field — Reduces active duty, civilian personnel and contract providers by two-thirds. A number of the buildings at Lajes will also be returned to Portugal.

^ I'm not sure how you can expect the US military to guard and protect American interests in the US and around the world and at the same time close dozens of bases and lower the military budget. ^

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