KMC commander honored and ready to go

  • Published
  • By Col. Bill Bender
  • 86th Airlift Wing and KMC commander
I am honored and pleased to have been recently designated the Kaiserslautern Military Community commander and wanted to share a few of my thoughts concerning the roles and responsibilities I will have in fulfilling this duty. The Kaiserslautern Military Community is a joint community of all branches of U.S. Armed Forces working together to successfully complete our U.S. Department of Defense mission. With fifteen distinct military locations and 53,400 people, the KMC is comprised of the largest American population outside the U.S.

Due to the very large U.S. military presence in this area, a KMC commander position was created in the mid 1970s to provide host nation officials with a single point of contact for coordinating affairs of mutual concern. The KMC commander is designated as the senior military representative with responsibility to address any concerns the local community may have regarding military units across the KMC. While primarily representational in nature, the position is important because it facilitates coordination between a myriad of organizations, agencies and officials across the greater Kaiserslautern area together in attempting to find solutions to common problems, for the betterment of the entire KMC.

The KMC commander's role is separate and distinct from that of other military commanders who have been designated with installation command responsibilities and authorities in accordance with US laws, DOD directives, and Service-specific instructions. Each U.S. military location has an installation commander who is responsible for day-to-day operations. The KMC commander, on the other hand, is the official spokesperson on issues pertaining to the U.S. Armed Forces in the KMC when dealing with our host nation partners.

An important point to understand is that while the KMC commander may request assistance from a particular installation commander in working on issues involving local mayors and officials, command authority continues to reside with the respective installation commander. To be successful, whether the issues being addressed pertain to mutual assistance for response to emergencies, aircraft noise, joint exercises, or any number of other possible concerns, open communication and teamwork are paramount.

A final point I would like to make is that none of us in the KMC could achieve our mission without the support and friendship we receive from our German hosts. Last weekend, my participation in a simple, yet moving ceremony, brought this point home. The American Kindergraves Memorial Service, hosted by the German-American International Women's Club and The Ramstein Area Chief's Group, served as a wonderful reminder of the support American military members in the KMC have always received from our German friends. Four hundred fifty one American children rest peacefully in the Kaiserslautern Main Cemetery near the US Army Daenner Kaserne. On Saturday, the Vogelweigh Junior AFROTC, the U.S. Army Garrison and Kaiserslatutern Sergeants Major Association, the American Legion, the Ramstein Middle School Choir and many others from throughout the KMC came together in a fitting tribute to their memory. We owe a debt of gratitude to Kaiserslautern city officials for their continued support of the Kindergraves Foundation. As your KMC commander, I am dedicated to continue the great friendship Americans and our German neighbors share.