By CourtesyDecember 17, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Today's open house and facility tours concluded years of hard work and synchronization between U.S. Army Europe, Installation Management Command-Europe, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Europe. The Dec. 16 event signaled the U.S. Army Regional Correctional Facility-Europe confinement center at Sembach Kaserne is fully operational and marks another important European infrastructure milestone.
Local leaders familiarized themselves with the new correctional center, its capabilities, and the history leading to project completion. The day marked the completion of a project initiated more than six years ago with the decision to replace the prison at Coleman Barracks in Mannheim, Germany.
Planners, construction personnel and military police professionals met for four years while developing a design and selecting a location. In May 2013, construction crews broke ground on Sembach Kaserne, said Karl Dautermann, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command general engineer and a native of Bad Kreuzenbach, Germany.
"We submitted the first request for a new facility in 2008 with a form that requires direct approval from Congress," Dautermann said. "When they gave us the approval, all of the other plans began falling into place."
A multitude of organizations had a hand in the construction and development of this facility, said Maj. Michael Swienton, the 21st TSC engineer officer in charge and a native of Thorp, Wisconsin.
"This project's completion required direct communication, leadership and partnership from U.S. Army Europe, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Installation Management Command-Europe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz and 5th Signal Command," Swienton said.
One tour attendee, Maj. Gen. John R. O'Connor, the 21st TSC commanding general, commented on the new facility.
"With multiple base closures across Europe, replacing the Mannheim facility, originally constructed in 1962, was a good move," O'Connor said. "Resource stewardship is essential to a 'Strong Europe' and relocation and consolidation of some facilities is as important as the closure of others."
An updated facility, equipped with motion-sensing lights, advanced personal security systems, and intruder detection sensors made sense to modernize the force and consolidate existing infrastructure, but it would take years for the new facility to reach full operational capacity. Even after facility construction actions were complete, teams operating the facility needed months for familiarization and certification.
While Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen assigned to the correctional facility, assisted in developing protocols for the new prison, facility operations are nothing new to this team. Many of Sembach's personnel have years of experience working the Mannheim correctional facility.
"I have been working on the new facility with my team for several months now," said Sgt. 1st Class David Barrera, a member of the 21st TSC's 18th Military Police Brigade and a native of Corpus Christi, Texas. "We are familiarizing ourselves with the new technology, ensuring it works properly and training in the new facility."
The facility also features more cameras than Mannheim's and a new state of the art control room.
"One of the advantages to this new center is that we can control pretty much everything from our control room," said Barrera. "We can see everything through our cameras, turn lights on or off, turn water on or off and control every door."
"Everyone involved in this project did a remarkable job, and the facility will hit full operational capacity in upcoming days due to the hard work of all involved," O'Connor said at the conclusion of the tour. "I'm proud of the work accomplished and the continuing work by this team of teams."