By Kristin Ellis and Rita Hoefnagels, USAG Benelux Public AffairsJune 15, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- U.S. Army Garrison Benelux participated in a town hall event June 6 at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany to inform customers on upcoming events and answer questions and concerns.
The focus was on plans for the Fall 2019 move from Schinnen to the NATO Industrial Complex (NIC) in Brunssum and what it means for services.
The move is part of the European Infrastructure Consolidation (aka Transformation), a process that aims to save the U.S. government about $500 million annually by consolidating installations and service throughout the European theater. Benelux is charged with transforming its footprint in two countries:Belgium and The Netherlands.
At the town hall, leadership pointed out that the move to the NIC site is not only good for the taxpayer, but good for the community.
"One of the beautiful things about the move to NIC is it saves the taxpayer $2 million in lease costs and moves the community support services closer to the population it serves," said John Phelan, Transformation Team stationing manager.
Geilenkirchen, which is about 24 km away from Schinnen, is the Main Operating Base of the NATO Boeing E-3 Sentry Component, one of two operational elements of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force. The move will consolidate services and increase efficiency by essentially creating a one-stop-shop for the Schinnen/Geilenkirchen community. In addition, it will help the garrison focus on the long-term use and sustainability of the Benelux community as an enduring presence within Europe and better support U.S. and NATO missions as well.
The move is being meticulously planned by the Transformation Office and affected directorates and Phelan said they are aiming for minimal, if any,disruption to service with no office offline for more than four hours.
In the meantime, Phelan recommended that employees at Schinnen utilize the next year to "lighten the load": digitize files, trash and recycle anything outdated or no longer needed.
When moving, the garrison will be paying by the pound and getting rid of unwanted items will ensure the government will not be paying to haul trash to the new site.
"Do a little bit now rather than a whole lot later," Phelan said. "Don't fall into the mentality of 'I'll sort it out later.' Sort it out now and save the taxpayers' money."