Pentagon Plans Huge Anti-Terror Base In Germany
by Allan Hall, The Scotsman, 5 November 2002
THE US is to build a massive special forces base in Germany, complete with mock Middle Eastern towns, with casbahs and cafes, that will become the hub of their war on terror.
The £500 million base, which could be up and running by the end of the year, will be used to train 3,500 elite soldiers from units such as the Green Berets and Army Rangers.
Pentagon planners want to build the camp at Auerbach, near Nuremberg, because it is close to an airport, with good autobahns and, most importantly, in relatively remote countryside that is perfect for security.
The plan is for Auerbach to become the single central training ground for special forces in an anti-terror campaign that is expected to last for years, perhaps even decades.
Mock Middle Eastern towns will be built so that troops can prepare for missions to urban areas to knock out al-Qaeda units.
US Army command in Heidelberg confirmed the plan but said a final decision has not yet been taken.
Helmut Ott, Auerbach's mayor, however, believes the deal is done. "We have seen plans for 1,600 homes for troops and their families," he said.
"They have applied for permission to raze 80 hectares of woodland. As they said in meetings with officials of mine, `We want to make this the Goettingen, Oxford and Harvard of anti-terror academies'." Goettingen is Germany's most famous university.
Defence ministry officials in Berlin confirmed the US wants to turn Auerbach into a European site of operations.
Not only would troops train there, but they would be stationed at the site as a "fire brigade", ready to fly around the world to trouble spots. Plans have been submitted for a church, supermarket, sports field, weapons arsenal and streets.
There are already training camps in the region, including one with a mosque minaret to add authenticity to manoeuvres and exercises.
Mayor Ott is terrified that having thousands of the US's elite soldiers as neighbours will make his sleepy, 688-year-old town an al-Qaeda target. He said: "We can reckon from the first day that we will be in the sights of the terrorists. We don't want what happened to the Pentagon to happen to Auerbach.
"Will our drinking water be safe? Will they use chemical weapons against us? Yes, we don't mind admitting that we have a great deal of fear."
He has threatened legal action against the German government over the plans.
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