WIESBADEN, Germany - With transformation changing the face of U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, groundbreakings are becoming an almost routine occurrence.

After launching projects to build a new Army lodging facility, Wiesbaden Entertainment Center and a host of other quality-of-life enhancements, the latest major construction effort to officially start will eventually see the relocation of U.S. Army Europe Headquarters from Heidelberg's Campbell Barracks to Wiesbaden Army Airfield.

"Wiesbaden is very proud that the new headquarters of the U.S. Army Europe will be moving here, and we see the Command and Battle Center as the heart of this new stationing," said Dr. Helmut MAfA1/4ller, Wiesbaden's lord mayor, during a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 19 at the site of the new center located between 1st Armored Division Headquarters and the Wiesbaden Fitness Center. "We are very excited that things are moving now."

Besides providing a 285,000-square-foot, three-story consolidated operations center with room for more than 1,000 work stations and coordination space, the new Ac'A!89 million project will offer 21st century tools and a multi-story parking garage with room for more than 1,000 cars.

"While construction is underway for the new Army family housing south of this airfield, and we expect to open our new lodge and the new entertainment center on Hainerberg some time in spring, today we are breaking ground for a key operational facility - the U.S. Army Europe Command and Battle Center," said Col. Jeffrey Dill, USAG Wiesbaden commander. "While the above mentioned facilities are designed to improve the quality of life for our Soldiers and families here, this new facility is designed to be the centerpiece for consolidating USAREUR command and control, signal and intelligence assets here on the airfield."

During the groundbreaking ceremony German and American leaders acknowledged the important role Wiesbaden has played in post World War II German-American history.

Diane Devens, director of the Europe Region of the U.S. Army's Installation Management Command, cited the vital role played by Wiesbaden Air Base during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and '49 - an operation that helped ensure freedom and liberty in western Europe. "Today's event is groundbreaking in a different way, but still very significant because it is the latest milestone in a long line of projects over a number of years here in Wiesbaden and across Europe that support one goal ... to transform to help the U.S. Army effectively manage its forces and support any demand for those Army forces to defend the cause of freedom when called upon."

Dr. Thomas SchAfA$fer, undersecretary for Hessen's Finance Ministry, discussed how Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's signing of Decree No. 1 on Oct. 12, 1946, founded the state of "Grosshessen" with Wiesbaden as its capital. He also described the crucial role played by the airfield during the Soviet blockade of Berlin.

"On behalf of the administration of the state of Hessen ... let me say how delighted we are that the U.S. Army [Europe] Headquarters is planning to relocate to Wiesbaden," said SchAfA$fer. "The outstanding relationship between the USA and the state of Hessen is reflected by the lively interest in the U.S.-American measures witnessed in Hessen.

"I would like to assure you that the plans of the U.S. authorities enjoy the full support of the administration of the state of Hessen," he said. "The trust that has grown over past years will continue to blossom in future cooperation together."

Speakers also praised the efforts of everyone involved in helping ensure the success of the new construction projects in Wiesbaden as part of overall Army transformation.

"I would like to take this opportunity to praise the excellent coordination and exceptional team effort of our garrison and the host nation agencies in getting the construction of this Command and Battle Center off the ground," said Col. John S. Kem, commander of the Corps of Engineers, Europe District.

"The superlative support we continue to receive from the residents of Wiesbaden and surrounding communities throughout the seemingly endless course of our transformation is testimony to the fact that the Army has much to be thankful for. ... We are reminded again that we are truly honored to have such a bright future as a proud guest of the state of Hessen," said Devens.

Page last updated Wed January 27th, 2010 at 07:06