By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (IMCOM)August 8, 2013
ANSBACH, Germany (Aug. 8, 2013) -- Permanent changes of station, though an activity most members of U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach are familiar with, can prove challenging, difficult and stressful due to the many tasks the PCSer must see to completion.
To allay the difficulties of this process, USAG Ansbach hosted a PCS rodeo Aug. 6 at the former Post Exchange location at Bismarck Kaserne. They will continue to host the rodeo Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon until the PCS season comes to a close. The location, for those unfamiliar, is in the lowest level of the D wing of Bldg. 5843 -- the same building as housing -- through the glass vestibule on the south end of the wing.
This inaugural PCS rodeo represented the grand opening of the Ansbach Transition Processing Facility.
"If you have a mass of Soldiers coming -- 40, 50, 60 -- where do they park?" asked Ingrid Misch, chief of the Housing Division. "Here we have [parking]. If you have it all centralized in one place, they don't have to drive to finance, they don't have to drive to vehicle registration and IACS. Once you have everything in one place, this would save so much time and cost for the Soldiers."
Misch and several others, including John O'Brien, the garrison's anti-terrorism officer, formed a task force to find and build up a new omnibus location for PCS.
"Aesthetically it's the most pleasing of the locations we looked at," said O'Brien. "It's spacious and pleasing in appearance. We knew we had some work to do. It's been painted and so on and so forth. But we chose this location because it's central for the Ansbach community."
William Godard, the PCS manager, was enthusiastic about the new location.
"Our [current] building is not but so big," said Godard. When large numbers of troops PCSing came through his building, it could become crowded. "It looked like formations in our building: Everybody that picks up clearing papers, everybody that leaves, and all at the same time, so it was kind of chaotic. We handled it, but it was just -- chaotic. This streamlines it. You can put Soldiers into place, you can tell them where to go, and it's smooth."
"They will eventually be able to clear 85 to 90 percent right here on location, so the majority of their stuff is done," said O'Brien.
The task force, with the help of personnel from the 69th Signal Battalion, Ansbach Area Support Team Soldiers and the Directorate of Public Works, set the location up within the span of less than three months from unused floor space to a functioning processing transition facility. With the support of the Soldiers, not only were they able to finish the project quickly, they were able to save considerable money in the process. Misch made a rough estimation that the efforts of the Soldiers in conjunction with the task force saved the garrison at least $80,000.
"We had a team from Grafenwoehr to get the network set up," said Misch, referring to the signal Soldiers. "We got servers and whatever we needed. And phones, we got 18 phones, recycled from Schweinfurt, so it really didn't cost us anything."
A number of tables were set up throughout the space with organization names printed, laminated and placed on the walls above the tables. Several of the tables had phones. A server room was set up in the back to allow for computers connecting to a printer. One of the rooms had dozens of chairs for the purpose of classroom-size briefings.
"It's going to get better and better," said Godard. "We're going to add more printers. We're going to add more computers. All this open space back there, we've got big ideas for that too. So I see things in the future for this. It's going to be great."
"There's an evolutionary process to it," said O'Brien. "Right now we're talking PCS rodeo. The intent is to make this also an in-processing center, and then along with that turn it into a place where we do [pre-deployment processes]: Anything that's related to reintegration or deployment of Soldiers."
Godard believed the event was successful although it came toward the end of the Soldier PCSing season.
"Not bad for the grand opening," said Godard. "I wish we'd started this a couple months earlier, but we didn't know because this was in the progress. Our biggest summer surge was last month and the month before that. That's when the bulk of the Soldiers did it. They did it at the gym, which worked out perfect. But this is awesome."
"We ask for patience because it's a new process that's being unfolded that's intended to ultimately benefit the Soldiers," said O'Brien. "[Constructive] criticism from them would assist us in better serving not only them but future participants."
"It's going to work," continued Godard. "In the future, it's going to be the best thing since Campbell's soup, I'm telling you now."
Services attending the first rodeo at the new location included Army Career and Alumni Program, Education Center, American Red Cross, Tax Relief, Check Control, Transportation, Housing, Foreign Service Benefit Plan, Self Help, Library, Personnel, Finance, Army Community Service, Community Bank, Vehicle Registration, Provost Marshal, Installation Access Control System, AAFES and Child, Youth and School Services.