MilitaryThe Military Training Area
In 1936, the German Army planned a training area for the XII Army Corps.
After the consideration of several locations, a decision was made to build a training area north and northeast of Baumholder. This area straddles the watershed between the Nahe and Glan Rivers. With its rugged topography, poor agricultural basis and meager populace, this area was well suited for Germany’s largest (at that time) training area of 11,000 hectare (ca. 30,000 acres). Thirteen villages, 14 hamlets and mills were evacuated. More than 842 families of over 4,000 persons were re-located to other areas in Germany.
Near the end of WWII, on March 3, 1945, American Forces entered and occupied Baumholder until turning it over to French Army administration later that same year. Camp Aulenbach was built as the French garrison headquarters and troops. In 1951, US Forces again became the administrators and the first major US Army units stationed in Baumholder were elements of the 2nd US Armored Division. Shortly thereafter, the US Forces significantly expanded their presence, building accommodations for staff and families. In 1957, the 2nd Armored Division was replaced by the 8th Infantry Division.
French administration of the training area and camp reverted to German Bundeswehr control in March of 1960. While the German Army assumed control of Camp Aulenbach, US Forces maintained control of the main Baumholder Camp.
The training area is used particularly by the German military for conscript training in conjunction with the German Artillery School in Idar-Oberstein on the northwest edge of the training area. The American Garrison and its headquarters lie on the south side of the range. Most recently, the US Army inactivated its main Baumholder element, the 170th Infantry Combat Brigade Team in 2012. So more than 60 years of US Army combat units ended in Baumholder. Since late 2012, US Army Europe logistical support units have moved to Baumholder.
Besides its function as a training area for soldiers, the Baumholder Military Training Area plays an important part in conserving the nature of the countryside. With prohibited entry for non-military persons and the lack of agricultural cultivation for more than seven decades, the training area has become an important refuge for wildlife and small eco-systems.
Despite the consequences stemming from the reduction of forces after the end of the Cold War, the military training area with its accompanying jobs is still the largest employer in the Baumholder area.