RAF Mildenhall to Close Amid Other Europe Consolidations

An aircrew stands beside a KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall, England, on June 11, 2014. On Jan 8, 2015, the Defense Department announced that it would return the base to England. (ADAM L. MATHIS/STARS AND STRIPES)
An aircrew stands beside a KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall, England, on June 11, 2014. On Jan 8, 2015, the Defense Department announced that it would return the base to England. (ADAM L. MATHIS/STARS AND STRIPES)

STUTTGART, Germany -- A major U.S. Air Force base in the United Kingdom and 14 other installations scattered across Europe will close as part of sweeping reorganization of forces on the Continent, the Pentagon announced.

Operations at RAF Mildenhall, home to Air Force special operations forces, air refueling tankers and 3,200 military personnel, will end and missions carried out there will be moved to other locations such as Germany. Two other facilities in the U.K. --RAF Alconbury and Molesworth -- also will close as part of a consolidation effort. Most of the missions there will be moved to RAF Croughton.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to station two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath by 2020, which ensures the continuous presence of U.S. air power in the country.

As a result of the moves, there will be a slight reduction in overall force levels. However, Germany and Italy are expected to gain troops through the Pentagon’s moves.

In all, the Pentagon expects to save about $500 million annually from the consolidations, which have been under review for more than a year.

Other announced closures and consolidations involve support facilities rather than major bases.

List of planned changes in Europe:

United Kingdom

Divest RAF Mildenhall:

•    Returns the installation and four supported sites to the United Kingdom.

•    DoD intends to relocate the operational units at RAF Mildenhall within Europe -- the assigned KC-135s and the 352nd Special Operations Group to Germany and the assigned RC-135s within the U.K. This paves the way for the stationing of two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath, starting in 2020.

•    Divest RAF Alconbury/RAF Molesworth -- Consolidation of missions allows the permanent return of RAF Alconbury, RAF Molesworth and supporting sites to the United Kingdom. The majority of U.S. personnel, and many of the U.S.-funded host nation positions assigned to these bases will be transferred to RAF Croughton.

Germany

•    Close Mainz-Kastel Station -- fully returns the site to Germany.

•    Close Barton Barracks -- fully returns the site to Germany and relocates the Department of Defense Dependents Schools district office to Sembach.

•    Partially close Pulaski Barracks in the Kaiserslautem area -- returns part of the site to Germany.

•    Close Weilimdorf warehouse site -- returns the site to German control.

•    Close two Baumholder waterworks -- returns control to Germany.

•    Relocate HQs DISA-Europe from Stuttgart to Kaiserslautem.

•    Close Amelia Earhart Hotel in Wiesbaden.

•    Partially close Artillery Kaserne in Garmisch -- returns two-thirds of the site to Germany.

•    Restructure the Army Air Force Exchange Services bakery and water distribution operations at Grünstadt.

•    Close Husterhöh Kaserne in Pirmasens -- returns the site to Germany.

•    Relocate mail sorting/distribution from German Aerial Mail Terminal in Frankfurt to Germersheim Army Depot --  efficiencies and personnel moves only.

•    Create a distribution center of excellence at Germersheim Army Depot.

•    Consolidate various communication data centers across EUCOM.

•    Close commissaries at Illesheim and Sembach, as well as the four commissaries in Stuttgart at Kelley Barracks, Patch Barracks, Panzer Barracks and Robinson Barracks, once a new replacement store on Panzer is constructed.

•    Consolidate Defense Media Activity operations across Europe.

•    Consolidate communications, postal services and personnel management that support the U.S. mission to NATO and the U.S. military delegation to the NATO military committee.

Belgium

•    Divest leased site in Brussels -- Consolidation of U.S. facilities in Brussels to Sterrebeek.

The Netherlands

•    Divest Schinnen Emma Mine leased site, Netherlands and consolidate U.S. facilities at Brunssum.

Italy

•    Place a portion of the Pisa Ammo Storage Area, near Livorno, into caretaker status.

Partially close Camp Darby near Livorno. Returns about half of the installation to Italy.

Convert the Vicenza Health Center to outpatient and specialty care only.

Portugal

•    Streamline operations and property at Lajes Field -- Reduces active duty, civilian personnel and contract providers by two-thirds. A number of the buildings at Lajes will also be returned to Portugal.

--Source: Department of Defense

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