BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- Leaders of the U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder, the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and local civic leaders came together for a garrison hosted civic leaders working luncheon recently in the Rheinlander Community Club to discuss issues affecting the military and civilian communities.
Also participating were leaders of Baumholder's new military units, which sparked the interest of local mayors and officials. They asked questions like how many units would be stationed in Baumholder and what would their missions be. They also asked if the tour length of these units would be longer or shorter than previous units.
Lt. Col. Mike Sullivan, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder commander, explained that tour lengths are regulated by the Army and they would be no different than other units. He told the mayors that the two major units coming to Baumholder were the 16th Sustainment Brigade and the 421st Multifuntional Medical Battalion.
Col. Mark Raschke, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander, addressed the future of the brigade. He said the brigade strength is currently at less than 800 Soldiers. At full strength, the brigade numbered about 4,600 Soldiers. Although the official deactivation of the Brigade is Oct. 9, there will be some Soldiers here through December because of logistical issues involved with moving such a large amount of Soldiers and families out of Baumholder. He also thanked the mayors for all the support Soldiers received from their communities. "Thank you for all you have done for our Soldiers and families throughout the years. The community has always been there for us. We could not have done all the things we needed to do without your support," said Raschke.
Sullivan outlined what community leaders can look forward to in the next few months.
"With the brigade leaving, we have other units that will be coming in. The largest unit that will be coming to Baumholder will be from Bamberg. We have also started to see other smaller units arriving," he said.
"I truly appreciate and commend the good cooperation and mutual trust that exists here," said Peter Lang, Baumholder district mayor. Lang also responded to a question from one of the military leaders who asked if the rumor was true that Baumholder's Bahnhof (train station) was going to be reopened. "The answer is yes. Baumholder's train station will begin offering train service in December 2014," said Lang. There will be hourly routes leaving Baumholder that will allow further connections to surrounding communities.
In response to a question from one of the mayors about the makeup of the units Sullivan said, "What you're going to see now are logistical units -- transportation, supply, some military police who are already here and other support units. What that means is that we will have a slightly different demographic. An infantry brigade has younger single Soldiers. As these new units come in you'll find that maybe the Soldiers are a little bit older and more of them have families.
The goal by the end of next year is to have about 2,500 Soldiers on Baumholder, plus their families," he said.
Sullivan credited the Army's decision to maintain Baumholder as an enduring installation to the unique relationship the Soldiers have with the surrounding communities.
"As the Army looks at the relationships between the communities and the Soldiers, I think it realizes there is a special relationship here in Baumholder between the communities and Soldiers and that's because of the leadership on the base, but more importantly your leadership in the community," he said.
In closing Sullivan encouraged the mayors and civic leaders to take some time to meet with the leadership of the new units. "They represent the Soldiers that will be here from now and into the future," he said.