Hohenfels Training Area (HTA)
US Army Garrison - Hohenfels
Hohenfels, Germany

As of 2005, Hohenfels was a small installation with approximately 5,000 active duty, family members, and civilians. The total population included: 2012 active duty personnel, 670 civilian, 618 local nationals 618, 2,000 family members, and 2,500 other individuals including trainees at what was then the Combat Maneuver Training. These individuals combined for a total of 7,890 people in the Hohenfels community. It was located in a rural area in the state of Bavaria. It was less than an hour drive from Nuernberg, Regensburg, and the Czech Republic. Scenic areas suchas the Austrian Alps, Munich, or Neuschwanstein castle, were less than 3 hours from Hohenfels. Housing in the Hohenfels military community was widely spread out. There were quarters as far out as a 1 hour drive. While much of US Army Europe (USAREUR) had drawdown by 2005, Hohenfels continued to grow and change as part of the Post-Cold War Army, in large part because of the closure of other facilities and the relocation of units to Hohenfels.

Hohenfels Training Area was approximately 45 miles southwest of Grafenwoehr, and was less than 60 miles from the Czech Republic border. It was located in Neumarkt County in the Upper Palatinate district in the independent state of Bavaria. The region was part of the "Upper Palatinate Jura" uplands that extended from Amberg in the north to the Danube river in the south. The characteristic features of the Jura were hilly terrain with softly rounded rock formations, mixed coniferous and deciduous forests, dry valleys and a general scarcity of water resources. The arable land in the lower sections between the hills is of low fertility, frequently covered with eroded rock and limestone. These conditions explained the sparse population of the area.

Hohenfels' elevation ranged from 1,155 feet above sea level in the southeast corner of the training area to more than 2,000 feet above sea level in the southwest, and terrain varies from hills and softly rounded rock formations to dry valleys. Forests of coniferous and deciduous trees, brush and grasses grew in the yellow- and brown-clay topsoil. The limestone ground absorbed water slowly, but erosion control measures helped prevent topsoil from washing into streams.

Hohenfels had been the subject of intensive geological and hydro-geological investigations for several years to identify geotectonic zones of weakness (dolines, sinkholes) causing excessive turbidity in off-post areas after heavy rainfalls and demonstrating a potential safety hazard for training units during maneuver activities. Groundwater turbidity appeard to have increased since the construction of erosion control basins at the HTA.

Historical finds near the Vils and Naab rivers indicated settlement of the region as early as 700 BC, although human life could be traced back nearly 4,000 years. In early recorded history, the area was mentioned in 15 BC, by Emperor Augustus who sent his army north across the Alps to stop the southward move and land occupation by the Celtic and Gallic tribes. One of the tribes' strongholds was allegedly on Lindenberg Hill.

Historically, the primary occupation of the region's population was agriculture, cattle breeding, work in the forests and minor trade. Everyday life was uneventful until the area attracted military attention in 1937. The Hohenburg castle ruins on the Hohenfels Training Area was built around 1,000 AD by the counts of Hohenburg. After destruction and decay it was rebuilt in 1584. Its role was the domicile of nobility ended in 1641 when it was badly damaged by lightning that struck the gunpowder tower.

Hohenfels takes its name from the rock formations prevalent in the area and is literally translated as "high rock" or "high cliff." The name Hohenfels referred to the elevated location of the former castle. Built by a Noble of Hohenfels in the 10th century it changed hands several times. In 1631, Tilly, the famous general of the Thirty Years' War, possessed it. Later, in 1724, it was returned under Bavarian ownership and in 1804, its role as a residence of nobles ended. New private owners tore it down leaving nothing but part of the tower and wall ruins.

Numerous wars and conflicts burdened the local and regional populace including the Peasants' War in 1524 and the Thirty Years' War from 1618-1648. Between 1716 and 1721 the beautiful church "Saint Ulrich" was built. In 1743 nearly the entire town was destroyed by fire. A look at the town's buildings impressed the extent of that fire and by 2000 only few houses were over 200 years old. Conflict continued after with the Spanish and Austrian Succession War in the 18th century, and the First and Second World War, which resulted in the loss of uncounted lives and in immeasurable suffering and pain.

It was during the latter that the German army established a training area near the town of Hohenfels in 1938, and German combat units activated, reorganized and reequipped at the training area throughout World War II. Several villages were evacuated when the training area was built and expanded. A few scattered ruins remained in the training area. Polish, Ukrainian, Yugoslav, Russian, British and American soldiers were also interned at a prisoner of war camp at Hohenfels until they were liberated by the Third US Army on 22 April 1945. As one of the few facilities that had not suffered major damage, the camp became a processing station for displaced persons. US forces in 1951 expanded the training area to 40,017 acres, and American units began training there in October 1951. This facility became known as the Hohenfels Training Area (HTA).

Hohenfels and the HTA became home to the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) in 1988, a part of the 7th Army Training Command. The CMTC at Hohenfels, at 39,858 acres (16,130 hectares), was the second largest training area available to US forces in Europe. The main mission was the training of troops.

By the mid-1980s much of the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany had become a moonscape. Tanks got stuck in the sucking mud, yellow-clay soil washed into streams and lakes, killing fish, and other animals and plants suffered as the land deteriorated from constant training. In response, the Department of the Army in 1985 created the Integrated Training Area Management program to rehabilitate US Army training lands throughout the world and, more importantly, to prevent them from becoming wastelands again.

In 1985 Hohenfels was chosen as one of 4 ITAM pilot sites to bring "drawing board" concepts to reality. When the ITAM program was fully integrated into other Army training areas in 1988 and 1989, Hohenfels became a model for training area land management worldwide. The office of the deputy chief of staff for operations picked up responsibility for ITAM-DA in 1996, so that management of the program moved from the Army's environmentalists to the trainers. The change was significant, because it forced the training community to recognize the importance of land management now that funding comes through the training program.

The USAREUR ITAM office in Grafenwöhr manages land use in the Hohenfels and Grafenwöhr training areas, as well as in Aschaffenberg, Böblingen, Butzbach, Friedberg, Lampertheim, Schwetzingen, Schweinfurt and Würzburg. ITAM operations specialists met quarterly with training officials, members of Germany's forestry office and local Army directorates of public works to coordinate land management efforts. Only limited land management projects can be undertaken during training rotations, so ITAM, DPW and training officials schedule blocks of time in the spring and fall devoted exclusively to damage-repair and prevention projects. This was when the land was reforested and reseeded.

Land managers planted native and non-native species of grass and trees to find those that grew best in the clay-like soil. They also collected soil samples and record data from selected sites. This information, plus data from water testing, soil analysis, satellite imagery, and aerial and infrared photographs, was used to monitor the condition of the land. Topography data was fed into the DPW's geographical information system, which allowed the DPW to develop computer-generated elevation models of the training area. Accurate models helped in planning viable maneuver corridors and land-management projects in the hilly terrain.

Although hundreds of protected plants and animals benefit from ITAM's environmental renewal measures, better terrain also meant less damage and "dead-line" time for vehicles. Soldiers also profited from maneuvering on a realistic "battlefield" of thick forests, grassy hills and deep river valleys. Lush vegetation held the soil, helping control erosion, which is Hohenfels' public enemy number one. Healthy trees and plants, along with 95 man-made check dams, slow the flow of rainwater into lakes and streams, giving the land more time to absorb it. Better erosion control also meant fewer problems for local residents and fewer damage claims against the Army. Claims could be quite costly. A 1987 flood, in which extensive mud and water damage in communities around the training area, cost the Army millions of dollars. That was a key event. After that, the ITAM program got the 100 percent support of everyone, from the local level to the Pentagon.

Six water-monitoring stations had been installed in the training area in 1992. Each telephone booth-sized station continuously gathers data about the amount and intensity of precipitation, surface water run-off, and levels of contamination and sediment entering local streams. Solar cells added to the monitoring stations in 1994 freed technicians from the chore of removing and recharging batteries. The stations paid for themselves many times over. They were credited with reducing the number of claims attributed to training area run-off from 250 in 1988 to the subsequent figures of fewer than 10 per year.

In 1998 the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division noted that it was consistently unable to train to standard due to severe maneuver restrictions at Friedberg Training Area due to enviornmental factors. This prompted the 7th Army Training Command to explore options for increasing maneuver space at Friedberg, and at Schweinfurt Training Areas.

The HTA 2005 objective was to upgrade the HTA as the preeminent maneuver training area in the US Army with recapitalization and modernization of the instrumentation systems. To accomplish the objective, the major tasks included the start of construction for the Objective Instrumentation System Building, the Objective Instrumentation System, upgrading the AAR capabilities, and the completion of maneuver corridor upgrades. Specific projects identified during the period included the HTA recapitalization, objective instrumentation systems and objective instrumentation (MCA). With new Maneuver Corridor Construction, 7 areas within CMTC would be improved to allow more efficient use of the training area. The available training area would be expanded up to 20 percent. Funding requirements were for $1.8 million (OMA) in FY00 and $0.96 million in FY01. The CMTC Army Battle Staff Integration would provide the capability for the instrumentation systems to collect, record, analyze, control, and provide training feedback for live/constructive digital force exercises. It would also provide an interim LF-IS capability. ABSCI would create an interface between the existing IS and the ABCS tactical systems. It would provide digital data to the IS for exercise control and for the production of AAR products. Funding requirements were for $1.6 million OMA and $36.6 million OPA/RDTE in FY02.

The Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML) at Colorado State University (CSU) was a longstanding partner of USAREUR and the 7th Army Training Command (ATC). By mid-2001 CEMML had completed 2 major projects for the 7th ATC. One involved proposed expansion of the training areas at Schweinfurt and Friedberg. The other was a comprehensive survey of the flora at CMTC Hohenfels. The baseline survey produced essential information for management of the training area.

The CMTC at Hohenfels was an ecological gem, representing one of the largest pieces of representing one of the largest pieces of undeveloped land in Germany, and host to a vast array of native and introduced flora and fauna. Though Hohenfels comprised only 0.24 percent of the state of Bavaria, the training area's flora represented over 27 percent of the plant taxa known to occur in the entire state. Forty-seven of the taxa collected in the survey had not previously been known on the installation, including 14 that were new regional distribution records. Eighty-nine of the taxa documented in the survey were on the German federal "Red List" of rare plants; fifty-nine taxa were on the "Red List" of rare plants maintained by the state of Bavaria. The floristic survey of Hohenfels underscored much of what was already known or suspected about plant diversity on the training area, and brought much new information to light. However, land managers had documentation and actual specimens to assist them in managing the property for optimal training conditions, while conserving the installation's extraordinary natural resources.

The 2010 Objective was the complete recapitalization projects and modernization of instrumentation systems to retain HTA as the preeminent maneuver training area in the US Army. To accomplish the objective, the major tasks included the modernization of instrumentation systems and support, completion of training area maintenance, finalizing the Leader Training Center modernization, finalizing the maneuver corridor expansion, completing MOUT site upgrade projects and completion of the Command Information Center. Specific projects identified during the period include HTA recapitalization, objective instrumentation systems, and objective instrumentation (MCA). The CMTC Objective Instrumentation System (CMTC OIS) would replace the existing instrumentation system that was fielded in 1992. The STRICOM program called for Common Training Instrumentation Architecture that would support the digitized force. Funding requirements were for $0.75 million in FY06, $5.87 million in FY07, $74.9 million in FY08 and $4.68 million in FY09. Funding would come from OPA/RDTE.

Located in a vacated Cold War-era missile site in the CMTC maneuver box, an area was renovated to represent a United Nations compound, complete with security berm, guard towers and concertina-wire fence. This "tactical operations site" was enclosed within an earthen berm and gates that could be manned by "armed" guards. The office buildings, billets and maintenance facilities in the site could be used to stage secure force-protection exercises or other complex battlefield operations. The benefit was that the exercise could be contained within the site so the exercise would not be confused with an actual terrorist threat or incident.

In December 2005, the CMTC was redesignated as the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. 2005 marked the reflagging of the Installation Management Agency - Europe's Area Support Groups, Base Support Battalions, and Area Support Teams into 21 US Army Garrisons to align with the common US Army installation management structure worldwide, known as Standard Garrison Organization. As a result, the 100th Area Support Group was inactivated and reflagged as the US Army Garrison Grafenwöhr. the 282nd Base Support Battalion was inactivated and reflagged as the US Army Garrison (USAG) Hohenfels, a subordinate entity to USAG Grafenwöhr. USAG Hohenfels assumed administrative responsibility for the HTA and the rest of the Hohenfels community. In 2006, Intallation Management Agency - Europe was reflagged as Installation Management Command - Europe. The designation of USAG Hohenfels was not affected.

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