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Europe District History


This publication is a history of the people and projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District. It is a short and concise narrative of the Corps in Europe with an emphasis on the headquarters in Germany. The first printing of this product was done by the Kastle Keepers (a non-profit committee responsible for the morale and welfare of district employees and their families) to commemorate the District Headquarter's move from its home of over 30 years in Frankfurt to Wiesbaden in June 1995. This update reflects how our District has flourished in Wiesbaden. Essayons!


Early 7th Century

Frankfurt was founded by Germanic Tribes. By the 7th century, it had a defense wall with towers and a moat surrounding the town.



The walls lasted until the early 1800s when Napoleon had them torn down. Eschenheimer Turm is one of the few towers remaining in Frankfurt today.


Heavily damaged in World War II, Frankfurt rebuilt itself and became the banking and communications center in Germany.


Spring of 1941, several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' officers went to be liaisons to the British High Command. They also helped in preparing air fields.  





General Eisenhower gave the command to use the I.G. Farben Building on the Abrams Complex for U.S. military headquarters.



Construction started on Grafenwoehr as a full time training facility. It was later to be followed by Vilseck and Wildflecken.


The Airlift to Berlin began on 26 June 1948 and ended in September 1949. It averaged one flight every two minutes and 5,000 tons a day! FRG and GDR were founded. NATO was formed.



The U.S. Engineer Group (TUSEG) was formed in Ankara for execution of the Air Force's construction program in Turkey (assigned to NAD). The Korean War broke out and Europe's troop strength increased.


SHAPE was established in Paris. Construction started in Kaiserslautern on what would become the largest U.S. Army installation outside the continental U.S. Hohenfels became a training area. TUSEG was reassigned to East Ocean Division, then in 1952 assigned to the Mediterranean Division.


Joint Construction Agency (JCA) was created by DoD (deactivated in 1957).


TUSEG was abolished and assigned to Eastern District, Athens, Greece.


The Federal Republic of Germany joined NATO.



U.S. Army Construction Agency (USACAG) was formed and managed by William Camblor. Work peaked at $40 million in 1962 with construction being financed by the U.S. Lou Brettschneider and Hasso Damm joined USACAG.Bautechnische Arbeitsgruppe (BAG) was formed by Ministry of Finance (FRG) which soon led to indirect contracting.


NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was signed.


The first barricade for the Berlin Wall was erected on 13 August.


USACAG reorganized into Engineer Element and headed by a military officer.


On 13 November, the ENGCOM Building caught fire. Total destruction left the engineers leasing building space in downtown Frankfurt. EUCOM moved to Stuttgart. The design for a new center began in 1966 and was operational in 1968.



On 20 July, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.


The new building was completed for ENGCOM.


On 10 December, U.S. and FRG officials signed an agreement for FRG to pay DM 600 million for renovation of American military facilities in West Germany. MOUSF (Modernization of U.S. Facilities) concentrated on barracks and dining halls. TUSEG moved its headquarters to Incirlik.


TUSEG moved its headquarters back to Ankara.


In July USACE EUROPE DIVISION was established. BG James Donovan commanded the Division briefly for transition purposes before being reassigned. TUSEG moved headquarters back to Incirlik. BG Louis Prentiss Jr. assumed command of an operating Division in September. Staff increased from 280 personnel to 500 in one year, although the workload would have supported 600.




BG Norman Delbridge assumed command in May He worked on morale by establishing Kastle Keepers, Meet & Mingles, and New Employee Sponsorship under the leadership of the new PAO, Shirley Kappa.


Work started on a completely new base in Garlstadt, located in Northern Germany. It was one of the few times the U.S. was given new land to build new facilities.



Joe Higgs arrived as Chief of Engineering Division. The authorization to hire 120 new employees triggered a massive recruiting effort in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Kansas City, New Orleans and other locations. MG Drake Wilson assumed command in August. Approximately 700 people were on board by the end of 1978. Space was a problem and facilities were leased in several locations throughout Frankfurt. The Master Planning program was increased from one person to six. Construction started on the Phillips Building Annex. TUSEG joins NAU as an Area Office.



Chairman of Works Council became a fulltime staff position. Herr Hasso Damm was elected to the position. The Phillips Building was named after Leonard Phillips, counselor for the Corps of Engineers since 1960, who died in 1976. The Division was renamed from European to Europe. BG Ken Withers Jr. assumed command in September. He created an Assistant Division Engineer to be a liaison between NAU and the DEH's. The Chief of Construction Division, John Blake, and the Chief of Resource Management, Ray Walker, arrived. Personnel strengthened to 906, including 275 local nationals.


Master Planning became a Branch and grew to 38 people. ABG75 was signed.


BG Scott B. Smith assumed command in July. The Air Force became a valued customer. Area Engineers were moved under the Chief of Construction Division. A Wartime Mobilization Plan was implemented with certain positions designated emergency essential.



BG James Van Loben Sels assumed command in July. MRI Contract was awarded for first factory-built (USA) housing to be constructed at Wildflecken. Like MG Smith, BG Van Loben Sels was only at NAU for one year before his promotion to major general and departure.


BG James "Bill" Ray assumed command in August. Kristine Allaman became Chief of Planning Branch and was the highest graded woman (GS-14) in NAU. Construction started at Vilseck, which eventually increased the military population from 3,000 to 10,000 people under the Force Modernization Program. It would involve 60 projects costing $300 million during an 8-year period. It was the largest concentration of U.S. military construction ever in Europe. Under the present monetary system, the highest exchange rate ever was recorded at $1 = DM3.45.



The Gramm-Rudman amendment to balance the budget was introduced.



Construction placement was at an all time high, $527 million, with a workforce of 1200 employees.


Ray, a very popular commander was promoted to major general and took the DCSENGR position in Heidelberg.BG Ernest J. Harrell assumed command in July. EUD had 1031 employees who would be at the mercy of world events in the next couple of years.



On 9 November, the Berlin Wall fell, which eventually cut off the funding for MCA. This led to an overnight shortgage of work at NAU.


At the Commander's Call on 11 January, BG Harrell stated, "there will be no RIF." On the same day, the DoD announced a hiring freeze. A moratorium was placed on military spending on 24 January. BG Harrell initiated actions for reducing manpower. At the same time, NAU switched to LCPM (Life Cycle Project Management) further causing confusion. On 12 April, the DoD hiring freeze was lifted and NAU employees could register for PPP. The Moratorium was extended to 15 June. BG Harrell received authorization for a U.S. employee RIF. On 10 July, RIF notices were sent out. 65 of 68 previously funded MCA projects were cancelled. Another DoD hiring freeze was announced on 29 August. On 7 August Operation Desert Shield began. In November John Blake and Joe Higgs departed. NAU and MEAPO became Districts under South Atlantic Division on 3 December.


The Moratorium was extended to 16 April. Europe Division became Europe District on 1 March. During its 17-year history, more than $5 billion of facilities were constructed. COL Daniel Waldo assumed command in March, providing stability for the transition. COL Waldo reinstated Kastle Keepers to help rebuild employee morale after the downsizing. NAU became a District under the Transatlantic Division. NAU was alive and well as evidenced by the End of the Fiscal year celebration held on 4 October. The highlight of the party was a song adapted from Billy Joel's hit "We Didn't Start the Fire." The Kastle Keepers were joined by COL Waldo in singing "We Didn't Start the RIF" to the NAU employees.



COL Michael A. Ellicott assumed command in January emphasizing finding new work and rebuilding the District. The CADD Training and Resource Center was established under the Planning and Environmental Branch. The first birthday of EU"d" was celebrated on 1 March. NAU and the State Department became close partners with E3R and TCER embassy building programs. Embassies such as Minsk, Belarus were a major challenge for NAU.


Frankfurt was on the closure list for military establishments. This forced NAU to find a new home, eventually deciding upon the Amelia Earhart Hotel in Wiesbaden. Pat Biliter was selected for the Deputy District Engineer. NAU can now communicate with each other and the field office electronically via the Local Area Network (LAN).


COL John M. (Jack) Gates assumed command in March. COL Gates faced the challenge of making the move to the Amelia Earhart happen. Issues included finding the funding, resolving move related items for employees, such as PCS and housing as well as closure of facilities in Frankfurt.


Twenty-five years in the Phillips Building were celebrated. FTEs (Full Time Equivalents) became an issue as income and work increased, but NAU was restricted from hiring more employees. COL Gates wanted to make the move activities and events belong to all employees and to be something in which everyone could be proud. During the final months of NAU's stay on the Abrams Complex, various committees worked continuously to ensure the move to the Amelia was smooth, professional, and remembered for a long time. Starting in mid-May, the District began moving employees into the newly renovated Amelia Earhart Center - one floor at a time. The move was completed by the end of June. NAU was the last major unit to leave Frankfurt, effectively closing the city as a military community. Ceremonies for the closing of the Phillips Building were held 29 June. This included a flag lowering ceremony, history recitation, and bike riders and volksmarchers transporting the flag to Wiesbaden. On 30 June, opening ceremonies were held at the Amelia Earhart Center. A combined organizational day picnic with volleyball, dunking booth, kids' games, karaoke DJ, and other activities were included. The dollar hit an all-time post WWII low of DM 1.33. In the beginning of November, Europe District officially became the Transatlantic Programs Center, Europe, referred to as EUC (Europe Center). In Dayton, Ohio, the U.S. was hosting a peace summit for the leaders of the warring factions in Bosnia-Herzegovinia. With peace in the Balkans in sight, LTC Kevin Brice, Deputy Commander, was sent with a team to Hungary to reconnoiter a possible site for an Intermediate Staging Base to deploy U.S. troops. In December, President Clinton signed the Dayton Accord committing U.S. troops to the war-torn area of former Yugoslavia. Not long after that, LOGCAP (Logistics Capabilities Contract) with Brown & Root was initiated. Europe Center deployed five people to Kaposvar, Hungary right before Christmas to be followed by over 50 more employees in the upcoming months of this year-long support to the deployment of the troops in Bosnia-Herzegovinia.



Deployment of the troops meant empty kasernes and an "unexpected marriage" of EUC to the 1st Armored Division. While the number one priority was to take care of the engineering and environmental needs in Bosnia, we were givent he tasking to "Fix the 1st Armored Division's footprint in Germany." Four-star General Crouch noticed the empty kasernes and thought this would be a good time to renovate and repair them before the troops returned. In August the Europe Center became a USACE Reinvention Center for Installation Support overseas. COL James M. (Mike) Barry assumed command on 3 August.


607 apartments were built in Khmelnytsky, Ukraine under the Cooperative threat Reduction Program. These apartments were built to provide housing for displaced, decommissioned and retiring officers who were once part of the Soviet nuclear forces. On 3 September 1997, Europe Center was redesignated as Europe District! On 22 December 1997, CEFMS (Corps of Engineers Financial Management System) conversion was completed.


Firefighters work to contain an electrical fire that started in the early morning hours of 26 March on the 6th floor of the Amelia Earhart. The fire gutted the wing which is shared by Program Management and part of Project Management. The Regional Outreach Office was established to market our services to newly emerging democracies. Collocated Program Managers were deployed to all the ASGs in USAREUR. Europe District was realigned under the North Atlantic Division.



Europe District continued to provide support to military operations in the Balkans, adding Kosovo to the list. Europe District was awarded the 1998 DPW Installation Support Program of the Year. The DoD "Five Year Rule" starts to impact NAU. COL Michael R. Pelkey assumed command of the Europe District on 30 July.



The Wye River Memorandum, a peace agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority and Israel in 1998, set the stage for Europe District's Israel Program Office near Tel Aviv, Israel, to begin construction for Wye River Program. Over the next five years Europe District built two infantry training bases and one storage base designed for the rapid deployment of Israeli Defence Forces reservists. Funding for the bases was included in the Consolidated Appropriation Act as a Foreign Military Sales agreement under the Arms Export Control Act.



Work began with the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Service to help the Georgian Border Guard and Customs departments improve border security. The $4 million Red Bridge Border Station near the Georgian and Azerbaijan border project was the first of an estimated $40 million program to development Georgian Border Guard installations, border crossings, and a border guard headquarters.



May 7: The $77 million, 330-room resort hotel Edelweiss Lodge and Resort groundbreaking took place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. COL Lee A. Staab took command of Europe District from COL Michael R. Pelkey, July 24, 2002 in Wiesbaden Germany. As a result of a Headquarters Department of the Army mandate, Army installations must transition to "closed" posts. Installations' access control points (ACP) must be upgraded with facilities and equipment necessary to achieve appropriate levels of security enhancement and risk reductions. In October 2002, the Product Manager for Force Protection Systems (PM-FPS) selected the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville District to plan, manage and execute the ACP equipment program by survey, design, purchase and installation of ACP equipment at all Army installations. Phases 1 through 3 ($163 million) are almost complete and Phase 4 is underway. Europe District helped upgrade $19 million in access point of equipment throughout Europe.



The Efficient Basing - Grafenwohr program began in spring 2003. The initial planning and design for the first projects started in late 2001. Collocation of the German Bauamt personnel, A/E staff, and District employees continues to be touted as a model business practice in this $600-million plus effort in the Army's transformation.



The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, housing three restaurants, two bars, an indoor pool and hot tub, a gift shop, wellness center, and fitness center, was opened on October 30, 2004. The lodge, located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, continues to be a great enhancement to the Quality of Life for Soldiers, Department of Defense civilians, retirees and their families. Lou Brettschneider retires at the age of 80. He was inducted into the Pentagon's Civilian 'Hall of Fame' in May 2004 for his support to the nation and humanitarian. In October 2004 the Deputy Director of Public Works in Vicenza requested Europe District to serve as the Contracting Officer Representative (COR) and project manager for the Dr. Frank V. Benincaso Mother and Infant Birthing Pavilion. The birthing center, the only stand-alone birthing center in the Department of Defense, was built in seven months. The German government requested the Environmental Management Office to restore the Oberlache stream, in Giessen, back to its natural condition. Construction began in fall of 2004 for this stream revitalization project which will reintroduce fish and plant life into this Rhein tributary.


COL Margaret W. Burcham took command of Europe District, July 19, 2005, from COL Lee A. Staab. Aug. 29: the USACE Forward Engineering Support Teams were mobilized to Keesler Air Force Base to augment the Task Force Hope - Mississippi mission. A $500 million contract was awarded to demolish and remove 6,000 homes, and the contract included removal of debris covering 1.4 million cubic yards. Civil Military Emergency Preparedness Program aids neighboring countries throughout Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus in interoperability during a catastrophe. Gatherings among nations continue each year and relationships continue to bloom, especially in the Black Sea Region in conjunction with the Black Sea Initiative. December 6, 2005 the Nachshonim Storage Base is delivered to the Israeli Defence Forces.



Eight employees deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional 23 deployed stateside to help with Hurricane Katrina reconstruction efforts. Pedro "Pete" Corona accepted the Defense of Freedom Medal for suffering shrapnel wounds to his foot during a melee in Iraq in spring 2004. And Peter Barth was recognized as the Project Manager of the Year for his work on the Efficient Basing-Grafenwoehr program, an almost $1 billion military construction program from 2003-2010.



The District completed $738 million in projects in 2007, including $468 million in military construction projects, a 22 percent increase from 2006. Responsibility also grew this year as the district began supporting the U.S. military's newest combatant command, AFRICOM. The Europe District footprint now spans 103 countries on three continents.


Eastern Europe was a hotbed of design and construction activity for Europe District in 2008, with 75 new projects in nine countries totaling more than $150 million. Most of the work was in support of Task Force-East in Romania and Bulgaria. Construction also flowed into the Caucasus for humanitarian assistance and border security projects for Georgia. Also in 2008, the Government of Israel requested our services for $190 million worth of construction contracts. Twenty employees deployed to assist with OIF and OEF missions and District reachback support for Overseas Contingency Operations climbed to roughly $61 million.The District welcomed a new commander, Col. John S. Kem, who accepted our colors from Col. Margaret Burcham in June.


Europe District delivered more than $1.2 billion in total turnover for the year across Europe and Africa. To execute the massive amount of work, the district workforce grew roughly 25 percent and became more efficient by standardizing its business processes, eliminating redundant systems and hiring the most highly-motivated and qualified personnel.Construction awards comprised $648 million in 2009, including $252 million in Military Construction for Army and Air Force Family Housing units, forward operating sites in Eastern Europe, and training and operations facilities. Nonmilitary construction projects totaled $396 million, a 26 percent increase from 2008, including almost $200 million in upgrades to various lodging and administrative facilities, airfields, child development centers, warehouses and utility infrastructure; more than $125 million in small- and medium-sized renovations and planning work for garrison Directorates of Public Works; and roughly $30 million for environmental surveys and services throughout Europe.


Altogether, the district executed 1,547 actions totaling more than $527.6 million in obligations in FY2010 displaying its full-spectrum engineer force of high-quality civilians and Soliders.

Efficient Basing Grafenwoehr was not business as usual and succeeding in bringing this massive construction project to fruition required innovative approaches to organization and acquisition. The U.S. Army Europe initiative to consolidate command and control headquarters and six battalion-sized elements consisted of more than 150 projects valued at close to $1 billion with the Europe District managing about $100 million each year since 2001.

This year, the Europe District's International Engineering Branch crossed new borders as it executed $8.9 million in renovations and construction projects in Europe and Africa - several of which took the district into new territory.


Europe District said farewell and welcomed two district commanders in less than six months but that didn't stop employees from executing an additional $146.6 million over the previous fiscal year. The district closed the books with 1,624 actions -- roughly $674.2 million -- in spite of a workforce down 8 percent from the previous fiscal year.

The district broke ground on a $20 million NATO Special Operations Headquarters in Mons, Belgium, and continues to make headway on the $119 million U.S. Army Europe Mission Command Center headquarters building in Wiesbaden. Both projects are slated to meet the U.S. Green Buildings Council LEED Silver requirements.

This year Col. J. Richard Jordan III accepted the colors from Col. John S. Kem, as interim district commander, and in July, Jordan passed the colors on to incoming commander Col. D Peter Helmlinger during a ceremony at the Schloss Biebrich in Wiesbaden.


Europe District obligated the highest dollar value in USACE’s North Atlantic Division in FY12. Several large projects are in the works including design of the $990 million Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center Replacement, roughly $600 million in constructing and renovating schools for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe, and $215 million in Wiesbaden Transformation projects.



The district managed projects in 35 countries with a workforce of 400 people based in nine nations. A total of 2,002 contracting actions were executed in fiscal year 2013. Europe District helped Installation Management Command-Europe consolidate to seven garrisons, which included Wiesbaden's final transformation into the home of USAREUR. Major construction efforts included the Ramstein Air Operations Center, AFRICOM Joint Operations Center, Permanent Forward Operating Site Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria for rotational forces and the assumption of responsibility for the expanding USAREUR Support Contract to provide expeditionary base operations services. The district has the largest geographic area of responsibility in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, supporting two combatant commands, European Command and Africa Command, while relying on a sizeable local national workforce for continuity and expertise.