WIESBADEN, Germany – If you've walked near the parking garage around the corner from the Clay Kaserne dining facility recently, then you probably have noticed either a bevy of activity and heavy equipment, or that a life support area exists next to Building 1208, where an empty parking lot once stood.
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden continues to see population growth throughout the installation's footprint. As part of that growth, USAG Wiesbaden will continue to see rotational units flow in and out over time, and the Soldiers of those units will require a place to call home while they are here.
To support of this increased need, containerized housing units, or CHUs, have been arriving on Clay Kaserne since August 2022. These semi-permanent housing units, some with bathroom and shower facilities, give the garrison the flexibility to transition Soldiers into more structured living conditions with heat and air conditioning.
“There has been two separate orders for CHUs, and (the CHU installation) has been without any delays,” said Shawn Priet, the operations officer at the USAG Wiesbaden Department of Public Works.
“We expect another order soon,” added Priet.
The end result? The former Clay Kaserne parking area has been transformed into a LSA that will eventually comprise more than 60 semi-permanent housing units capable of housing and deploying Soldiers as needed.
CHUs are recognizable by many military members. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, who have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, were often housed in these containers while overseas.
However, the CHUs being moved on to Clay Kaserne are not the containers from a bye-gone era. According to DPW's coordinating contractor KBR Inc. and their logistics capability augmentation program, these containers are brand new – fabricated and shipped in from Turkey. Broadly, KBR assists in transporting and assembling these units all around the EU.
Prior to installation in Wiesbaden, the pre-fabricated CHUs are configured for shipment by personnel at the factory.
Each self-contained CHU receives protective packaging prior to shipping, to safeguard it from damage during its movement to the local, off-site assembly area close to Clay Kaserne.
After arrival, each housing unit was carefully unpacked from its shipping configuration and protective coverings before being erected and leaving the construction site.
Next, each unit was loaded on a flatbed trailer and driven to their new 'home,' the aforementioned parking lot now transformed into a new LSA for Soldiers.
Crews at the LSA use heavy-lift cranes to lift each container off the transport vehicle, and with adroit precision, place each unit on pre-positioned blocks.
Once in place the final steps of the installation can begin, including the wiring and fitting of bathroom fixtures, which helps divide each CHU into separate living spaces.
Soldiers who lived in housing units with bathrooms know that those type of accommodations put an end to cold or late night treks to communal-use bathroom facilities that were, at times, located far from a Soldier’s LSA.
In addition to the plumbing lines and electrical wiring installation, a weather protected wood boardwalk is installed.
The boardwalk provides a safe and level pathway for Soldiers to use when moving about the new life support area. Without this boardwalk, Soldiers would have to step over water lines and around electrical junction boxes which connect the life support area to garrison public works facilities.
Forty-feet-long and looking like a cross between a single-wide trailer and a box trailer, CHUs have long been used as a housing option for members of the armed forces. Offering both affordable and flexible solutions to an organization’s housing challenges, these containers can be adapted to house several individuals comfortably.
“These wet CHUs are configured to hold two Soldiers [per container] (…). Once final inspections are complete and the CHUs are turned over, they will house [billeted Soldiers as needed],” said Priet.