BAUMHOLDER, Germany – Rheinland-Palatinate Minister of the Interior and Sports Michael Ebling visited Smith Barracks and Wetzel Kaserne Jan. 29.
Col. Reid Furman, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz commander, welcomed Ebling and his staff when they arrived on Smith Barracks, outside at the Baumholder memorial monument, along with Jae Kim, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz deputy garrison manager.
“Thank you, Mr. Ebling, for giving us your time today,” said Furman. “We are happy you are here to see what makes the Baumholder Military Community (BMC) so special.”
Furman, along with members of the garrison directorates, provided a briefing on the BMC garrison services, infrastructure, and missions, focusing on current and future construction and renovation projects on Smith Barracks and Wetzel Kaserne.
“The movement of Special Operations Forces (SOF) from Stuttgart to Baumholder in 2026 is associated with a $500 million construction project to accommodate approximately 1,000 new residents,” Furman said. “By then, the BMC population should reach about 11,000 people.”
After the briefing, Ebling and his staff were escorted on a bus tour of the installation by garrison leaders, where Mr. Kim provided details on building plans, identified demolition targets, and highlighted the locations for the new construction projects.
The tour included stops at the Castle Rock Dining Facility for lunch, at a town house, and at a stairwell apartment building intended to provide Ebling with a firsthand look of how the Soldiers and families live on base.
In the final part of the tour, the group visited Wetzel Kaserne examining the site where new and updated family housing and school construction is underway.
Furman said that today was a great opportunity to see the return on investment to Baumholder.
“This community is set to receive an investment exceeding $1 billion over the next 10 years,” he said. “This substantial funding will cover various initiatives, including the construction of the SOF complex, the relocation of additional forces to Baumholder, investments in Army family housing, as well as the creation of a new Army Lodge. We are thrilled to be a part of these developments that contribute to the growth and enhancement of the community.”
Furman said that much of the old housing on Wetzel will be torn down, but over the next couple of years there will be over 400 units that will be built, a great investment for not only the military community, but for the city and district of Baumholder as well.
Ebling expressed gratitude fo
r the visit and for the commitment showed by the U.S. forces.
“It was very impressive to see all the construction and to get a round-up idea on what is happening in Baumholder,” he said. “I really appreciate the involvement of the U.S. forces here in Baumholder and their dedication to the construction projects. It reflects the complete commitment that the U.S. forces have in this area."
Ebling thanked Günther Jung, Baumholder city mayor, and Bernd Alsfasser, district mayor, for their active involvement with the Baumholder military community.
He also recognized Mr. Kim, presenting him with the "Willkommen in Rheinland-Pfalz (WIR)" Appreciation Award for his dedicated efforts in strengthening German-American relations by actively supporting local events and engaging with the host community.
Furman presented Ebling with an Army coin and a bottle of wine with a display box.
“Throughout the Army, we give out coins. Each coin is symbolic, and the one I am presenting to you has both the U.S. and German flags on it,” Furman said.
“There is no place in Germany that represents the strength of our partnership and the strong bond between the U.S. and Germany more than Baumholder does – when I see the flags side by side, I think of Baumholder,” he added.
U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz serves, supports, and secures the total force community enabling power projection for the European Theater.