KMC leaders discuss Ukraine support, emergency management, RAB hospital construction during Mayors Forum

  • Published
  • By Capt. Stuart Thrift
  • Third Air Force Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Derek France, Third Air Force and Kaiserslautern Military Community commander, and Ralf Hechler, Mayor, Ramstein-Miesenbach and union community, co-hosted a forum with German mayors and community leaders July 7, 2023, in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany.

The forum is an annual conference during which local community and U.S. military leaders collaborate for the betterment of both their respective communities.

This specific meeting covered multiple topics including U.S. military support to Ukraine, local emergency management, and the progress of construction on the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center at Ramstein Air Base, among others.

In his remarks, France expressed his appreciation for the German community’s continued support, enabling Ramstein AB to host the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and the U.S. military to provide valuable equipment and security assistance to Ukraine.

“Your local U.S. installations play a role in security assistance to Ukraine,” France said. “This assistance is having a real impact on the battlefield right now in saving Ukrainian lives and deterring Russian aggression.”

To date, Ramstein AB has hosted four of 13 UDCG meetings, with the most recent held locally being on April 21, 2023. These meetings bring together Allies and partners from more than 50 countries to coordinate security assistance to Ukraine.

During the forum, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Otis C. Jones, 86th Airlift Wing commander, also provided an update on emergency management cooperation between the U.S. military and the German community, and stressed the importance of remaining proactive with mutual planning and exercises should a crisis occur.

“Our response to the COVID 19 pandemic, along with Operations Allies Refuge and Allies Welcome, highlighted the continued importance of U.S.-German cooperation at our level,” Jones said. “It is important for the U.S. military and German authorities to exercise and maintain critical skills together for the safety and security of our Airmen and citizens.”

Jones went on to explain that due to regular personnel rotations, there is a requirement for continuity and cooperation between first responders and local authorities. To this, local mayors at the forum also equally expressed their interest in connecting personnel and performing exercises.

“I really welcome emergency management cooperation during exercises,” said Ralf Leβmeister, Kaiserslautern county commissioner. “I am not only including fire fighters and first responders, but also the police so they can all get together and get going on emergency management cooperation.”

Other topics addressed at the forum included the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center construction, where crews are building a 985,000 square-foot hospital to eventually replace nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Lalit Wadhwa, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District’s Program Management Branch Chief, announced that utility construction for the project was complete and vertical construction has begun with the overall goal to finish the project in 2027.

At the conclusion of the forum, both U.S. military leaders and community leaders emphasized the importance of continued communication.

“I think this forum is perfect to exchange thoughts and ideas,” said Bernd Alsfasser, Mayor, union community Baumholder. “We’re very happy that we have the U.S. soldiers in the community…and I think there’s always a good exchange between the German and the U.S. side.”