The 254th Base Support Battalion (BSB) is located in Schinnen, The Netherlands. Tucked away in the southeastern province of Limburg, it is a twenty-minute driving distance from Belgium and Germany. In Schinnen, about 30 minutes from Maastricht, Ziek Kaserne lies nestled at the end of a quiet country road. The only route to the tiny Army installation runs parallel to the railroad tracks that transport passengers to and from the nearest civilian station, Heerlen.
Many still refer to the site as the Old Emma Mine complex. The kaserne was the site of Shaft 4, a mineshaft that ran 6.5 kilometers from Schinnen to the Emma Mine in Hoensbroek. Its construction lasted 10 years, from 1946 to 1956. Coal production ceased in 1965, after only four years, when Dutch engineers discovered large quantities of natural gas. More than 45,000 workers and families were affected when the Limburg-area mines closed. Then, in 1967 - after France withdrew from NATO and asked Allied Forces, Central Europe, to leave - the former AFCENT relocated to the Limburg area, as did its support element. In 1969, the AFCENT Support Activity relocated again, this time from Heerlen to the Shaft 4 site, where it's been ever since.
The 254th BSB provides quality-of-life support to US military personnel, Defense Department civilians and their families. That support is extended to some 6,500 people in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, northwestern Germany and a small portion of Belgium. It's a big job for the BSB's 265 employees - among them fewer than 50 soldiers, half of whom are MPs, Jones said.
As the most widely dispersed BSB in USAREUR, the 254th Base Support Battalion provides logistical support over no less than 139,000 square kilometers for personnel spread across 17 seperate locations. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a major influence in this region, with Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), located in Brunssum, NL. AFCENT is a twenty minute drive from Schinnen, and Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base (GK) is located in GE, approximately twenty minutes from AFCENT. Basic community support for the region is provided by the 254th BSB, while many of the soldier support services are provided by military (Army and Air Force) personnel at AFCENT and GK. The Area Support Group (ASG) responsibilities were transferred to the 80th ASG in Mons, BE. Mons is also home to Supreme Headquarters Allied Forces (SHAPE), as well as Chievres Air Base. It is approximately two hours drive from Schinnen to SHAPE.
USAREUR, Heidelberg, GE. Coevorden and Rotterdam are remote locations in NL. Both communities and their sites receive base operations support (BASOPS) from the 254th BSB. Coevorden is home to the Combat Equipment Battalion Northwest (CEBNW). CEBNW consists of four companies; the 18th Combat Equipment Company (CEC) located at Brunssum, 19th CEC at Vriezenveen, 20th CEC and HHD CEC at Coevorden, and 22nd CEC at Eygelshoven. With the exception of Brunssum, all sites are located in the northeast part of NL along the German border, and are designated Remote Sites. The latest member of the community is Headquarters, Combat Equipment Group Europe (HQ, CEG-E), Kerkrade located in Kerkrade, NL. It is Headquarters for three Combat Equipment Battalions in USAREUR.
The Rotterdam community is in Capelle Aan Den Ijssel, which is a suburb on the eastern edge of Rotterdam, just north of the Ijssel river. Rotterdam is home to the 838th Transportation Battalion. The 838th commands and controls all military water terminals in Europe and the Mediterranean.
The peacetime mission of the 254th BSB is to provide basic quality of life support to the units within the BSB footprint. In time of conflict or war, the mission is to open and operate NL Line of Communication (LOC). This BSB is responsible for the reception, processing and deployment of forces and equipment through NL, GE and other locations.
The CEBNW mission is to receive, store, maintain and issue prepositioned organizational material configured to unit sets (POMCUS).
The 598th Transportation Terminal Group (TTG) mission includes the receipt, handling, documentation and port clearance of all Department of Defense (DoD) sponsored cargo transiting Benelux ports. During the past few years, the workload has exceeded 4 million measured tons per year. The 838th Transportation Batallion (TB) is a subordinate element of 598th. The 838 TB is responsible for managing DoD sponsored cargo transiting all ports within the Benelux countries. The Rotterdam Movement Control Team (MCT-Rotterdam) is an element of the 27th Transportation Battalion, which is subordinate to the 21st Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM). The MCT determines the mode of onward movement for all DoD sponsored cargo entering the ports within the Benelux.
Rotterdam Telecommunications Center (TCC - Rotterdam), an element of the 532d Signal Company, provides telecommunications support to all DoD activities in the Rotterdam area. Detachment OL-D, 7300 Material Squadron, US Air Force, Europe (USAFE), monitors all USAFE cargo within the Benelux region. Rotterdam is also home to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) office of the Benelux. This Navy office coordinates and controls all MSC shipping activity within NL, BE, GE and the Atlantic coast of France. Rotterdam is home to the ELG/Port Liaison Branch of AAFES Europe. This office coordinates the movement of AAFES cargo entering and exiting ports within Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Originally the AFCENT Support Activity (SUPACT) (US) was activated in Fountainbleau, France. AFCENT SUPACT (US) provided all BASOPS support to American and Canadian personnel assigned to Headquarters AFCENT. With the termination of French participation in NATO, AFCENT SUPACT (US) moved to South Limburg. In 1971, the Schinnen Mine compound was leased and the activities were consolidated. During this time, AFCENT SUPACT (US) was assigned as a sub-community of NATO/SHAPE, and on 1 Oct 81, the AFCENT SUPACT (US) separated from NATO SHAPE and became a full community under what is now the 21st TAACOM. On 1 Oct 82, Schinnen was again realigned under the Rheinberg community. Rheinberg Military Community (MILCOM) closed 1 Jun 90, and the Schinnen MILCOM ssumed geographic responsibility for Rheinberg, Northern Germany and the United Kingdom (UK). Since the closure of the Rheinberg community, and the redesignation of US MILCOM to ASGs, the 254th BSB has been involved in the drawdown of communities in Northern Germany and the UK. The Schinnen Community is proud of its history and accomplishments and its ability to provide the highest quality of life available in Europe.
CEBNW was established in NL following a decade of western concern about the vulnerability of the northern plains of GE. The fertile lowlands that stretch from the former Soviet Republic, across Poland, GE, and NL to the English Channel have formed historic invasion routes. Many observers felt that this significant area had long been under-defended by NATO's Northern Army Group (NORTHTAG). Since the end of the Cold War, and due to the support provided by POMCUS stocks to Operation Desert Shield, the US Army has seen a greater value for the continued readiness of POMCUS to support the contingency corps wherever they might be deployed around the world. On 23 Mar 81, the US and NL signed the "General Arrangement Concerning Storage in the Netherlands by the US Forces." As a result, the CEBNW and its four CEC joined the three other battalions in USAREUR's CEGE. The mission of the four battalions is the same: receiving, configuring, storing, maintaining, and issuing POMCUS equipment for the rapid reinforcement of Europe. However, CEBNW is different than her sister battalions in CEGE in that the Dutch organization NL-POMS operates POMCUS sites in NL under the terms of the "Technical Agreement." On 1 Oct 84, the Headquarters for CEBNW and its first subordinate unit, the 18th CEC, were officially activated. CEBNW's most recent accomplishments were related to their involvement in Operation Desert Shield, with the shipment of M1A1 tanks, DEPMED hospitals, and over 15,000 items to South West Asia. The battalion is currently involved in the USAREUR Unit Reductions, overseeing the shipment of excess equipment from Europe.
The village of Schinnen is situated near the Geleen Valley. Schinnen was known in 54 BC, as a Roman colony known as Sunici Schineks, or Scynne. The local inhabitants of the time worked as farmers, tilling fields that were not too fertile. In 1871, remnants of a Roman village were discovered in the area. Excavation showed that the village had connections to other villages in the area and that they were all built by Romans. The famous Terborg Castle, known as Castrum in 1285 AD, has been owned by the village of Schinnen since 1969, and in order to preserve the structure it has undergone many architectural changes. In 1758, the then owner, Lady Schellaert, had a stone cross made bearing the inscription: "SALVO FACLAS DOMINE SCHINENSES" (Lord, Protect the Inhabitants of Schinnen). A model of this castle can be seen at the miniature city of Madurodam near The Hague. The Terborg Castle, which boasts of many illustrious inhabitants, is used today for many Schinnen community social activities. Coevorden, a fortress since 1143, is the oldest city in Drenthe. Many things concerning its history are still found in Coevorden. The Castle (Kasteel) and the fortifications (the bastion) are still part of the views in the town. Splendid facades decorate the very old streets, especially the Friesestraat and the Weeshuisstraat. Coevorden owes much of its power of attraction to its central position in the region. The pleasant atmosphere in the town center and a choice of shops and boutiques make Coevorden a real center for an off-day in South East Drenthe.
Limburg is the southernmost Dutch province. The north of Limburg is covered by woods and heathland, while in the central part of the Province the many small lakes along the River Meuse. In the south, the landscape is one of charming, rolling hills. Perhaps it is the fact that Limburg is a heady 120 meters above sea level that makes it different from any other Dutch province. Rolling countryside virtually divided into two areas by the great River Meuse, vineyards, idyllic villages and a historic capital, Maastricht - all combine to give the province an almost Mediterranean flavor. Maastricht, where one of the European Communitys most far-reaching treaties was signed, is a truly cosmopolitan city. Founded by the Romans, it has had a rich though checkered past. Occupied at various times by many of the major European powers, who all left an architectural legacy behind them, it seems to have retained the best of each to become a vibrant place where north meets south. The great St. Servaas Cathedral stands at the heart of a city of charming squares and winding medieval streets with their extensive cafe terraces and fashionable stores, usually housed in historic buildings. Maastricht is also the location of Limburg State University. The citys airport is a major freight transshipment center. Over the past 50 years, the province has changed dramatically. In 1939, Kerkrade in the north was the biggest coal-mining city in Europe. In 1960, no less that 70 percent of Limburgs population was involved in mining, either directly or indirectly. But all of this came to an end in the early 1970s as mining became an industry of the past. Only a few signs remain today - now grassed and wooded with many thousands of trees. Such a great change required careful planning, and government, both national and provincial, set to work to create new employment opportunities in Limburg. DSM chemicals, one of the most important companies of its kind in Europe, remains one of the major employers. A number of national government services were transferred to the province to provide new jobs. An institute established specially to attract new industry to Limburg, the LIOF, was very successful, and hundreds of companies have relocated to the province. When you visit cities such as Roermond, one of the oldest cities in the country, or historic places like the white town of Thorn, or ramble in the Haelen nature reserve, it is hard to imagine that this land hasnt always been green and pleasant. The Limburgers have always been noted for their burgundian life style, and for the three days of fun and madness celebrated annually during Carnival. Yet, the good life is more than apparent every day of the year in the excellent regional cuisine. But this is only part of the story. Where once the province dug deep into the earth for its wealth, it now goes down no further than half a meter. It is said that asparagus was a delicacy in Limburg in Roman times. Today, it is one of the provinces biggest exports. Other industries include automotive, ceramics, plastics, clothing and paper, and these are centered around the cities of Roermond, Weert, Sittard and Venlo. The opening of the MECC conference and exhibition center in Maastricht and Valkenburg has always been popular with tourists, and the number of visitors is increasing annually, attracted by the cosmopolitan ambiance and an inborn tradition of hospitality that is typical of the Limburgers.
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