GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – There’s Army Family housing that is awardable to a contractor soon on Rose Barracks at Vilseck. Concrete work’s ongoing on an imposing new vehicle maintenance shop on Tower Barracks, Grafenwoehr, with another project, the 7th Army Training Command training support center, shooting for occupancy in the fall. These three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District projects help showcase just some of its work supporting U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria’s overarching training mission and the Soldiers and Families stationed there.
USAG Bavaria consists of a Garrison with four locations that include Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels, and Garmisch, along with Grafenwoehr Training Area Camps at Tower Barracks, Grafenwoehr, and Rose Barracks, Vilseck. Throughout the years, the training missions have steadily grown in these areas and Europe District’s military construction and other work mirrors that growth.
“We have a mission training complex, training support center, and of course now, the big program that is coming is the ORTC, or Operational Readiness Training Complex,” said Regional Program Manager for USAG Bavaria Peter Barth. “The training area here is one of the biggest assets the U.S. Army has here in Europe. So, it was always a dominating factor, but lately the focus shifted more on training support facilities due to what’s going on outside.”
The ORTC is a long-term effort that will involve the construction of modern training facilities and everything needed to sustain the 3,000 to 5,000 Soldiers that make up a brigade and its battalions. So that means barracks, officer quarters, battalion and company headquarters facilities, dining facilities, motor pools, a brigade headquarters and also parking, heating, rail and other infrastructure.
The Army’s 7th ATC is based out of USAG Bavaria and operates the training areas there.
“I would say that the 7th ATC is one of our biggest tenants in the garrison, and with that, since most of our facilities are providing direct support to them, also our biggest stakeholder,” he said.
Europe District also supports 7th ATC in ways that are not as obvious as ORTC projects and new training support centers. The Corps partners with Training Support Activity Europe and its Integrated Training Area Management, or ITAM, office on environmental projects that help manage training areas in Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr.
ITAM is a management and decision-making process that integrates training and other mission requirements for land use with sound natural resource management practices. One of ITAM’s main missions is to develop methods to maintain natural environments that are resilient and resistant to military use and provide capabilities to establish land condition monitoring on training land.
“Many people may not realize it, but through our environmental program, Europe District personnel support the 7th Army Training Command, Training Support Activity Europe, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria and other partners as they work together to protect environmental resources within training ranges like Hohenfels and others in Bavaria,” said Europe District’s Environmental Branch Chief Jill Tefts.
ITAM partners with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop project contracts in order to meet these goals. USACE project managers and ITAM work together to develop Statements of Work for project contracts that ensure the continued use of the training land for military exercises.
“This partnership not only extends to preventative and corrective land repair projects but includes work that promotes environmentally sensitive issues,” said Gary Hart, ITAM coordinator at Hohenfels. “A good example of this would be the Bergheim Church Bat Sanctuary Apse here. This is a construction project with USACE to add the apse addition to the historic Bergheim church and provide additional roosting habitat for Hohenfels’ protected bat population.”
Hart emphasized the value of the long ongoing partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and ITAM in Bavaria.
“The dedication USACE has shown to the development of ITAM projects as well as the willingness to work through tough problems or issues has been a benefit to our program,” Hart said. “They have always been willing to find solutions rather than accept the status quo.”
Europe District’s Grafenwoehr Resident Engineer Edwin Vasquez said there’s much more to the work they do throughout USAG Bavaria. “The work we do in our area of responsibility also includes things like schools, Army Family Housing units, numerous renovations for admin spaces, and miscellaneous repairs across different buildings on the bases.”
Europe District has turned over dozens of new Army Family homes in the Kittenberg Housing Area of Rose Barracks in Vilseck in recent years with more on the way. Additionally, two new facilities Soldiers and Families can look forward to as they head to Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr also focus on delivering on the Army’s commitment to their quality of life. One is the five-floor Army lodge the District plans to start site preparation for in Hohenfels this fall. For those heading to Grafenwoehr soon, the second is the new 400-student Grafenwoehr Elementary School the Corps will complete toward the end of the year as well.
The building is one to transition to the 21st century teaching model said Europe District Project Engineer Wes Clark.
“The project is unique because the footprint encompassed the old teaching style while incorporating the interior of the 21st century model,” Clark said. “The open concept with the moveable glass partition walls and the marker board walls, they are available in the school to open up and use as an integrated teaching model.”
These Europe District projects and many others focus on quality of life for Soldiers and Families, installation support and the training mission USAG Bavaria supports throughout its installations.
“So, it’s a pretty diverse support that we provide here, and it’s covering, I would say, the full array of activities and entities that we have here in Graf,” Barth concluded.