U.S. Army Europe looks back at a busy, productive 2011

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

   January 5, 2012    

View Year In Review slide showHEIDELBERG, Germany -- The U.S. Army in Europe team wrapped up 2011 with an impressive series of successes to add to USAREUR’s already distinguished history.

During the year, a new lieutenant general assumed command. USAREUR deployed two ground brigade combat teams and several other units in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; trained an Army National Guard brigade for service in Kosovo; redeployed thousands of Soldiers from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Kosovo Force; took part in several multinational exercises across its 51-country area of responsibility and had numerous Soldiers, civilian employees and family members recognized for their unique achievements.

What follows is a month-by-month listing of some of the highlights and challenges the Army in Europe experienced during the past year:


Recent Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta of U.S. Army Europe’s Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team helped ring in the New Year at Times Square with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
President Barack Obama nominated Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling to assume command of USAREUR.

The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade marked its return from Afghanistan and members of 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment marked the end of their 5-year mission in Afghanistan.

Soldiers from USAREUR’s 67th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne) participated in Operation Starlight II, training on combat medical tasks alongside troops from the United Kingdom.


USAREUR welcomed Maj. Gen. Terry Wolff – who had just returned from Iraq as commander of 1st Armored Division and Task Force Iron -- as its deputy commanding general. Wolff held both the USAREUR deputy commander and 1st AD commander positions until Maj. Gen. James Boozer assumed the position of USAREUR deputy commander in June.

The 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason LaCrosse and Spc. Robert Chicvara of USAREUR’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade were named Aviator of the Year and Medic of the Year (respectively) by the DUSTOFF Association, and three 12th CAB crews were honored for outstanding service in Afghanistan as well.

Five USAREUR service members received the first-ever Frederick E. Vollrath Human Resources Award for Excellence: Capt. Danielle Cork of the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Vincent G. Freeman of the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command; Sgt. 1st Class Willie Gordon III of the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade; Spc. Timothy J. Meyers of the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command; and Vanessa Corigliano of the USAREUR Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Engineer.

Soldiers from USAREUR’s 212th Combat Support Hospital, 30th Medical Command, developed and began testing a rapidly deployable combat support hospital.

The Installation Management Command-Europe began testing a pilot program to transform Army Community Services into a directorate separate from the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.


Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling assumed command of USAREUR, and marked his change of command with a renewed emphasis on values, discipline, standards and professionalism.

USAREUR's 172nd Infantry Brigade conducted a Mission Rehearsal Exercise in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan – participants included 768 Soldiers from seven nations.

U.S. Army in Europe premiered a new website and prepared to launch a USAREUR app for mobile devices.

Exercise Bagram IX was conducted in Kielce, Poland, with USAREUR soldiers and trainers helping to prepare another brigade of Polish forces for service in Afghanistan. This was the sixth such exercise over a span of four years.

The fourth rotation of Patriot missiles to Poland was conducted.

Two Europe-based broadcast journalists – Jesse Granger of the USAREUR Public Affairs Office and Sgt. Joe Labutka of AFN-Europe – were named the Army’s best for 2011 in the Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Competition.


President Obama announced the Department of Defense had recommended, and he approved, the retention of three Army brigade combat teams in Europe.

USAREUR launched the EURMama Twitter site to help newcomers get the most out of their tours in the Army in Europe.

During April and May, USAREUR’s Contingency Command Post was put to the test during exercise Austere Challenge, training as a joint task force headquarters at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.

USAREUR fielded the first UH-72A Lakota helicopters for use at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, and retired its last UH-1 “Huey” helicopter.

USAREUR’s 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment provided direct support to the theater Air Operations Center during operations in Libya.


The 1st Armored Division, after nearly 40 years in Germany, cased its colors and moved to the Division’s new home at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling’s first staff ride as USAREUR commander used the World War II Siegfried Line campaign to involve USAREUR senior staff members and commanders and senior allied military participants to study leadership at the operational level.

U.S. Army Europe conducted its first Combined Training Conference at Oberammergau, Germany, with 35 nations attended the conference that covered 81 training events and scheduled more than 10,000 Soldiers for training.

USAREUR’s Capt. James R. Siebert and 1st Lt. Daniel M. Meegan were among a handful of junior officers from across the Army to be presented Army-level Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Awards.

U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim cased its colors in a relinquishment of command and deactivation ceremony, ending the U.S. Army's 66-year presence in the city.

U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden received the Commander-in-Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence, a presidential-level honor established by President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

USAREUR's 21st Theater Support Command supported the multi-modal Operation Enduring Freedom Retrograde Proof of Principle by redeploying 2nd Cavalry Regiment equipment through Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania.

USAREUR and the Hungarian forces co-hosted the Conference of European Armies for Noncommissioned Officers in Szekesferhaver, Hungary to discuss training, professionalism and various other topics.

The Joint Multinational Readiness Center conducted an Operational Mentor and Liaison Team and Police OMLT training rotation for more than 900 personnel from 11 different nations.


U.S. Army Europe welcomed Maj. Gen. James Boozer as deputy commanding general.

USAREUR participated in Shared Horizons, an emergency response exercise in the Republic of Georgia.

Exercise Immediate Response – a crisis response exercise – was conducted in Slunj, Croatia with U.S. Soldiers from USAREUR and the Minnesota Army National Guard alongside troops from Serbia, Hungary, Romania and Croatia.

The fifth Patriots to Poland training rotation was conducted.

12th CAB members began training on the brigade’s recently acquired new CH-47F Chinook helicopters.

Thanks to an active medical and public affairs campaign, no U.S. service or family members were affected by an e coli outbreak in Germany involving bean sprouts that took the lives of several Europeans.

The 2011 Women’s World Cup came to Germany, and Army in Europe members actively supported the soccer championship.

USAREUR’s 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 18th Engineer Brigade began deploying to Afghanistan.
V Corps began its move from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden.


Exercise Rapid Trident, a multinational airborne operation and field training exercise co-sponsored by the U.S. and Ukraine that included more than 1,400 Soldiers from 13 partner nations, was conducted in Kiev.

Master Sgt. Mark Jordan, the USAREUR Equal Opportunity senior enlisted advisor, received the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conference for his public service and support of equal opportunity.

The Joint Multinational Training Command conducted multiple operations with allies and partners, including Battle Command Systems training with Poland’s 15th Mechanized Brigade; Military Operations on Urban Terrain training with Bulgaria’s 1st Infantry Battalion; and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle training with Soldiers from the Republic of Georgia, to help prepare them for deployment as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.


Secretary of the Army John McHugh visited the command to see U.S. Army units supporting NATO missions. McHugh observed multiple units in Germany, exercise Rapid Trident in Ukraine, and training in Romania.

Sgt. James Byrnes of 21st Theater Sustainment Command was selected as the USAREUR NCO of the Year and Pfc. Travis Williams of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team was selected as the USAREUR Soldier of the Year.

Sixty-one servicemembers, including four German Soldiers, earned the Expert Field Medical Badge. This was the first EFMB competition in U.S. Army history with both joint (U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy) and coalition participation.

After conflicts arose at border control points, USAREUR provided forces from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade to reinforce Multinational Brigade-East in the NATO Kosovo Force mission.

V Corps officially uncased its colors in Wiesbaden.


The USAREUR Contingency Command Post wrapped up two weeks of training during exercise Saber Foundation at Tompkins Barracks in Schwetzingen.

Exercise Combined Endeavor, a multinational exercise designed to increase interoperability and communications between more than 40 participating countries, began at Grafenwoehr.
The year’s second USAREUR Commanding General’s Staff Ride addressed leadership under difficult circumstances, using the Battle of the Bulge as a case study. This was the first commanding general-led staff ride to use a role-playing methodology.
Exercise Bagram X was conducted in Kielce, Poland.

The sixth Patriots to Poland training rotation was conducted.

Exercise Dragon 11 was conducted in Miroslawiec, Poland with Soldiers from USAREUR’s 173rd ABCT along with Polish and Canadian soldiers.

Turkey announced its plan to host U.S. radar systems and Poland announced plans to host U.S. antimissile interceptors.

USAREUR Comptroller Irma Finocchiaro was named the civilian recipient of the 2011 LATINA Style Meritorious Service Award.

USAREUR honored more than 50 OUTREACH-Kontakt Club members and groups for volunteer efforts as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S. and Germany.

More than 400 Soldiers, family members, civilian employees and other military community members supported 48 wounded warriors from the U.S., Germany, the Republic of Georgia and Romania during the Wounded Warrior Community Soldier Ride at Lake Bostalsee in southwest Germany. This was the first Wounded Warrior Ride conducted in Europe, and the first in which coalition forces participated.


Approximately 65 U.S. and European senior military leaders from six countries and members of leading military think tanks met at USAREUR’s 31st annual Legion Of Merit Conference.

USAREUR conducted its first Full-Spectrum Training Environment event, bringing together Soldiers from 11 nations in a training event designed to highlight the complexities of 21st-century warfare. During the training, paratroopers of the 173rd ABCT jumped into the Hohenfels Training Area in the unit’s first brigade-size airborne jump during training since 2002.

30th MEDCOM and its 212th Combat Support Hospital formed the first-ever coalition combat support hospital during the 173rd FSTE at Grafenwoehr.

The seventh Patriots to Poland training rotation conducted.

USAREUR Soldiers occupy a new radar site in Turkey as part of the U.S. ballistic missile defense mission.

Soldiers from the 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion trained with German soldiers during Express 11, an exercise designed to enhance the German Army Air Mobile Division’s disaster relief abilities.

Members of USAREUR's 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, Office of the Provost Marshal, and intelligence directorate, alongside German police forces, conducted a conference to discuss information-sharing and cooperation on efforts to improve force protection, counter-drug and human trafficking operations within Europe.

USAREUR formed a first-of-its-kind engagement study to assist Bulgaria in developing battalion battle groups that will form the foundation of the new Bulgarian Land Forces.

USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling conducted a theaterwide call-in show on AFN radio.

Sgt. Milfred (Shane) Williams of USAREUR's 160th Forward Surgical Team was presented the national USO Volunteer of the Year Award in a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Kathleen Marin assumed her duties as the new Regional Director of Installation Management Command-Europe.

Installation Management Command-Europe announced toll-free European access to the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line.

Approximately 65 U.S. and European senior military leaders from six countries and members of leading military think tanks met at USAREUR’s 31st Annual Legion of Merit Conference.


The 170th IBCT began redeploying from Afghanistan, with the redeployment expected to be complete in February 2012.

By November, ERMC medical facilities had tallied just shy of a million patient visits, including more than 7, 600 U.S. Soldiers wounded in combat zones and more than 200 patients from coalition forces, during 2011. Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s main facility alone recorded more than 366,000 outpatient visits during that time, while visits to that facility and its associated clinics in the area recorded more than 600,000 visits. More than 8,400 patients were admitted to LRMC’s main facility and the Vicenza (Italy) Health Clinic.

USAREUR conducted another Combined Training Conference at Oberammergau, Germany, expanding partnership training support to 42 countries.

USAREUR participated in Exercise Flexible Leader at the U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

Personnel reductions by the Department of Defense and Department of the Army were announced to streamline the U.S. Army in Europe by approximately 1,000 civilian positions.

Capt. Troy Peterson of U.S. Army Europe's 2nd Cavalry Regiment took top honors in USAREUR’s first-ever Best Junior Officer Competition at the JMTC in Grafenwoehr.

Angela Wilson, an English and language arts teacher at Vicenza Middle School in Italy was named the Department of Defense Education Activity Teacher of the Year.

USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling was named by the German English-language news service The Local as one of the “Top Ten Most Influential Foreigners in Germany.”

Soldiers from USAREUR’s 173rd ABCT took part in an airborne operation using CH-47 Chinook helicopters at Camp Robinson, near Schweinfurt, Germany – the first such operation in years.

The 21st Theater Sustainment Command earned two awards in the Headquarters, Department of the Army’s Fiscal Year 2011 Lean Six Sigma Excellence Award Program: the Subordinate Level Organizational Deployment Award and Non-Enterprise Level Project Team Award.

Hundreds of 5th Signal Command Soldiers, civilian employees and family members, led by USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling and Col. Bruce Crawford, the 5th’s commander, participated in Operation Solemn Promise, renewing their oaths of service to “re-energize a dialogue of leader accountability, standards and meaning of the Army values.”

Italy-based Soldiers from USAREUR’s 21st TSC helped provide disaster relief following a devastating earthquake in Turkey.


The Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare published the issue paper, “The U.S. Army in Europe: A Pillar of America’s Defense Strategy.”

A new USAREUR Campaign Plan is approved that outlines the command’s values, goals, primary tasks and objectives for the coming years.

During a visit to Afghanistan, USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling helped the Combined Joint Operation Area Afghanistan’s chapter of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club welcome six new members into its ranks.

Soldiers of USAREUR’s 44th Expeditionary Signal Brigade returned from deployment to Afghanistan.

Gen. Sir Nick Parker, commander of the United Kingdom’s land forces, and several other UK general officers, visited the Joint Multinational Readiness Center to assess the possibility of increasing training between U.S., U.K. and multinational forces at JMRC.

U.S. Soldier Staff Sgt. Peter Woken is awarded the German Medal of Honor for Gallantry for his efforts to save the life of a German corporal in Afghanistan.

Europe Regional Medical Command officers Lt. Col. Rachele Smith, the Mannheim Army Health Center and Coleman Barracks Troop Medical Center commander, and Col. John Cho, commander of 30th MEDCOM, received the Polish Armed Forces Medal (Silver) for their support of wounded Polish servicemembers treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

USAREUR said farewell to its senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel and his wife, Marissa, as the sergeant major prepared to begin a new assignment as ISAF command sergeant major.

2011 was truly a tremendous year for the U.S. Army in Europe. However, the team faced its share of tragedy during the year as well, with 15 Europe-based Soldiers dying while supporting combat in Afghanistan. Motor vehicle accidents resulted in 12 fatalities, while a dozen more died due to other causes.

As we enter 2012, USAREUR is dedicated to continuing the great training and great quality of life for the Soldiers, civilian employees and family members assigned here, and performing its strategic mission for the interests of the United States.