Strategic planning: Meeting the garrison's future needs
December 17, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - Future thinkers gathered for two days of brainstorming Dec. 3-4 at the Community Activity Center on Clay Kaserne.
"We're going to spend a lot of time over the next couple of days talking about where we're going," said Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander. "There are a lot of people here to help us shape the strategy over the next couple of years for the garrison."
Looking back at the massive changes that have transformed the Wiesbaden military community in recent years and the challenges facing the Army as a result of fiscal restraints, sequestration and increased energy needs, Carstens said, "We're probably not going to get more money; so we need to make what we have last."
While Wiesbaden may have reached the "high-water mark" as far as population (roughly 20,000 people) and will see a slight decrease in the years ahead, the transformation that included the construction of new housing and state-of-the-art mission, processing and intelligence centers with the relocation of U.S. Army Europe Headquarters from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden has meant a steady increase in energy and resource requirements. Finding ways to better sustain facilities, increase recycling, reduce energy waste -- all the while continuing to focus on enhancing the quality of life for those serving in the garrison -- is the ultimate goal, Carstens said.
"It is my hope that we all feel a direct connection … to making people truly feel that Wiesbaden is their home in Germany," said Camille Howes, conference coordinator and a member of the garrison's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office.
"This conference is about tweaking and refining goals and action plans to help shape the future of the community," Howes said.
A direct result of last year's planning conference saw a host of new features, programs and initiatives including a monthly housing newsletter, greatly expanded access to online host nation information and services in English via the garrison's website, increased involvement and offers by local realtors and property owners to meet military community housing needs, a 50-percent increase in recycling in the barracks, an overall 29 percent increase in paper recycling, funding for solar panels and a major increase in professional development of mid-level managers and supervisors.
Other recent improvements have included the opening of the Wellness Center, a sandwich shop at the Clay Food Court and the Recycling and Reuse Center on Clay Kaserne, major renovations of the Community Activity Center, continuing work to modernize local Department of Defense Dependents Schools and "probably 100 others I didn't mention," Carstens said.
Through continued efforts to consolidate, such as bringing a host of Army and Air Force Exchange Service operations to one location in the new Hainerberg Exchange, and divestiture of unneeded property and facilities, leaders can reap needed funds and resources that can be better spent improving the overall quality of life in the community, leaders said. "That is why this is so important," said the commander.
"We're looking at doing a lot more partnering with our host nation for everything from youth activities and sports for all ages to medical, dental, social services, etc. to really fill in the gaps," said Howes. Better informing and connecting members of the Wiesbaden military community with host nation service providers, helping to make everyone feel confident and comfortable in the quality of care available outside of the military and raising awareness on both sides is critical.
Highlights of the conference included plans to develop a series of transportation options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural resources, increasing awareness about youth activities, beefing up off-post housing support, improving access to host nation services, elevating command emphasis on sponsorship, developing a local mentorship program and better identifying U.S. and host nation wellness resources and facilities.
"We don't want to maintain the status quo. Our aim is to refine and improve our processes to be more efficient in offering our services and better supporting our customers," she said.
Like last year's conference, this year's welcomed both U.S. and host nation planners including members of the Bundeswehr, Polizei, local private organizations and supported units.
"We wanted to get input from as many of our stakeholders as possible," Howes said, "so that they can help shape our future.
"The thing that was most unique was that we had nine separate teams and every single one of them was directly charged to do much more host nation outreach -- to become more transparent, accessible and engaged."