By Ignacio Rubalcava (USAG Baumholder)October 27, 2011
BAUMHOLDER, Germany - A ground-breaking ceremony symbolizing the start of a $7 million project was held Oct. 14 on Smith Barracks.
The Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program, or I3MP as it is known, will develop Baumholder's information infrastructure, putting the garrison on the information highway fast lane. The project will upgrade the capacity and reliability of voice and data communications to state-of-the-art technology.
The project is expected to take one and a half years to complete.
I3MP will provide support for installation communications during readiness, training and mobilization and for tactical and strategic systems that operate within the confines of the installation.
It will also enhance connectivity between deployed and rear detachment forces.
Lt. Col. Sam McAdoo, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder commander, pointed out that a project like this sends a clear signal that American Soldiers will be in Baumholder for some time to come.
"A lot of folks ask in this community, is Baumholder going to stay around or not? How long is it going to be here? It's projects like this that show a commitment from the U.S. government in making sure that Baumholder stays around," he said.
"Whether we're doing a $7 million project, building a new high school, middle school, building a new commissary, increasing our spaces in the barracks, or building new housing areas, all those things start to add up, and people see that Baumholder is an enduring installation, whether the brigade stays here or not. So that's a very positive thing," McAdoo said.
Nokia Siemens Networks based in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Mannheim has been contracted to spearhead the project. Many of its staff, however, live in the state of Rheinland Pfalz.
Before the ground breaking, Darren Mowery, Nokia Siemens Networks I3MP program manager, stated that the company has been working with the U.S. military for more than 50 years in the field of telecommunications and data technology.
This longstanding partnership "reflects upon the relationship that Siemens and Nokia Siemens have with the U.S. government," said Mowery. "We hope to continue and grow this relationship in the coming years and decades."
Over the 55-plus years of this partnership Nokia Siemens has installed numerous generations of telephone switches, worked more than 20 I3MP projects and completed numerous other telecommunications-based endeavors.
Mowery explained that choosing Nokia Siemens as a partner brings many advantages.
"The Army benefits because after a project is completed we don't just get in the airplane and fly away. We're here to support you long after the project is completed," Mowery said.
"Nokia Siemens Networks has a fully staffed local team. Most of the U.S. companies use a German labor force to do construction, but then they reach back to the States for skilled labor categories. Nokia Siemens Networks performs virtually all aspects of this project using a local German workforce, ranging from finance to controlling, data engineering, project management, and sales just to name a few," said Mowery.
Cable installation and construction will be concentrated on Smith Barracks and Quartermaster Kaserne and will bring much needed revenue to the local economy. This was the focus of Heike Raab, Rheinland-Pfalz state secretary of interior, sports and infrastructure, who attended the ceremony.
"The town of Baumholder is characterized considerably in social and economic terms by the approximately 12,000 American inhabitants of the region. Moreover, the presence of the U.S. military is of great economic importance for both small and large companies in the region, especially in Baumholder," said Raab.
"For the regional population and economy, this investment of approximately $7 million here on Smith Barracks and the Quartermaster Kaserne is a considerable factor for safeguarding jobs," she said.
The longstanding presence of Americans in Baumholder has also given growth to strong German-American relations, Raab said.
"This event offers a possibility to highlight the traditionally good relations between the U.S. forces and the state government of the Rheinland Pfalz," Raab said.
"The decades of American military presence in the Rheinland Pfalz and especially in the region surrounding the Baumholder military training area has created a successful and future oriented alliance between the Soldiers of the stationed forces and our regional population. The American Soldiers and their families have become welcome neighbors in the Baumholder area. Over the decades, personal friendships and even German-American marriages have created strong bonds. Furthermore, we do not forget the presence of American Soldiers in Germany, with its focus in the Rheinland Pfalz, has contributed significantly to the safeguarding of peace and freedom in Germany and the entire world," said Raab.