173rd IBCT (Airborne) lands in Grafenwoehr
September 30, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- With U.S. Army units in Europe in a constant state of flux and restationing, many face a mission much different than before. As some units inactivate, others are being restationed to enduring installations.
As part of the DOD's Base Closure and Realignment plan, Soldiers of the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 91st Cavalry Regiment, previously stationed in Schweinfurt, received orders to restation in Grafenwoehr, along with the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment in Bamberg; both battalions are part of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), headquartered in Vicenza, Italy.
Both USAGs Schweinfurt and Bamberg are drawing down in preparation for closure in 2014.
Paratroopers of these units had to refocus and prepare their families for a full PCS to USAG Bavaria. This coming just six short months after paratroopers of 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. William Kirby, commander of the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, was thrilled when he learned his battalion would restation in Grafenwoehr.
"Grafenwoehr is the largest U.S. training area outside of CONUS and offers training opportunities that rival that of many stateside posts. The fact that we were going to be able to call it home was great news," Kirby said. "The area is beautiful and has that 'small town' feel. The consensus, across the formation, is that we have lucked out."
When the restationing is finalized in the coming weeks, these paratroopers will feel the largest impact on their training opportunities. Previously, it took considerable planning, resources and effort just to get to the training area.
"Field exercises had a tendency to be very lengthy and were focused at the battalion level. Now that we have moved, we are able to go from the motor pool to the firing point in a matter of minutes," Kirby said. "Accordingly, Soldiers and families can expect shorter field exercises and batteries will be able to conduct battery-level training events."
For Lt. Col. Kyle Reed, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 91st Cavalry Regiment commander, the transition has had a huge impact on his unit's ability to serve as the only airborne cavalry squadron in Europe.
"This forward position requires us to be prepared to execute a no-notice or short-notice deployment capability for contingency operations in the EUCOM/AFRICOM area of responsibility. Being here at USAG Bavaria enables our formation the ability to train and be ready for employment as needed," Reed said.
Although these two battalions won't join the rest of the 173rd IBCT (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy, they have a first-class training area right in their own backyard, and feel privileged to have landed in Grafenwoehr.
"The unit, its troopers and our Army are better for making this move to capitalize on the ability to train and expand partnership opportunities with our NATO allies," Reed added.