The cities affected – Bamberg and Schweinfurt – will lose approximately 7,500 soldiers, according to mayors who met with the leader of the US Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling Wednesday.
Mayor Andreas Starke of Bamberg said there will be a gradual reduction of troop numbers over the next few years before the bases officially shutter.
Starke said although the closures would have “far-reaching consequences,” hurting craftsmen and other businesses who have made millions of euros from the Americans, he said it will also have benefits.
“In a crisis, there’s also a chance,” Starke said, pointing to the city’s long-running need for new student housing to support the University of Bamberg.
Schweinfurt Mayor Sebastian Remelé too tried to take something positive from the announcement, saying new residential housing was needed and that he could also envision new businesses moving onto space left by the decommissioned base. However, he said, 600 local civilian jobs were threatened by the closure.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the federal government would be offering special assistance to the affected cities.
“The federal government will surely help wherever it has leeway,” Friedrich told the Münchner Merkur newspaper.
In January, the US government announced it was pulling between 10,000 and 15,000 military personnel out of Europe as part of redeployment to focus on the Middle East and Asia.