KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany —
U.S. Air Force Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force and Kaiserslautern Military Community Commander, co-hosted a forum with local German mayors and community leaders May 6 in Krickenbach, Germany.
The forum is a semi-annual conference where local community leaders and U.S. military leaders can collaborate for the betterment of their respective communities.
This particular meeting was Reed’s last as commander of the KMC. His two-year tenure in this position was marked by a people-centered approach with the goal of improving cooperation between German communities and the American service members they host.
Early in his role, Reed strove to open lines of communication with community leaders as much as possible, even maintaining regular office hours at the Kaiserslautern German-American Community office in Kaiserslautern, a unprecedented practice of a KMC commander. .
Expanding that opening, Reed said, has helped navigate the greater Rheinland-Pfalz region through three unique crises: Operations Allies Refuge and Allies Welcome, the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently the conflict in course between Russia and Ukraine.
“What makes me incredibly proud is that when our nations decided to respond to (the Russian invasion of Ukraine), there was never any question of whether our forces could go there,” said Reed during the forum. “When the need arose, our strengths were there from the start.”
Although Reed acknowledged the challenges of increased preparedness exercises and troop movements, he credited the assistance of community leaders and GACO’s role in facilitating coordination to prevent the crisis from evolving.
“Our combined efforts made the difference in deterring further aggression and keeping it in a place where diplomacy could still work,” he said.
As RLP is home to the largest concentration of Americans outside of the United States, increased communication has become an indispensable asset not only to manage KMC’s giant footprint, but also to leverage it to help the influx of Ukrainians who have recently sought refuge in the area, said Kaiserslautern County Commissioner Ralf Leβmeister.
“About 30,000 Ukrainian refugees are here in Rheinland-Pfalz,” Leβmeister said. “We have seen tremendous support from our communities to welcome them. The US military has also been in regular communication with us, which is crucial in managing this crisis together. Through ongoing talks and cooperation with General Reed, we have been able to manage the crisis and provide the refugees with the support they need.
In addition to talking about the evolving conflict between Russia and Ukraine, other topics discussed during the forum included updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, noise issues and logistics related to the recently announced construction of the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center, a nearly $1 billion medical facility to replace the aging Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
However, with the end of Reed’s tenure as KMC commander, the forum was tinged with a sense of nostalgia, with many attendees expressing their appreciation for the work done not only by Reed, but also by the KMC’s military leadership in his outfit.
“I’ve been here 28 years and you didn’t just ask our opinion – we felt it really mattered,” Leβmeister said. “Coming together regularly like we have, nurturing this relationship through so many crises and being on the same side of the response has made a difference.”
Reed also closed the forum with words of thanks for the work done by U.S. military leaders and community leaders throughout his tenure and highlighted the importance of GACO – something he said his successor will continue. to use extensively.
“If I can ask you all one favor, it will be to help the next KMC commander maintain the momentum we’ve generated,” Reed said. “So our children and your children can understand that we are successful together.”