Europe troops rehearse for beginning of Patriot Express flights
February 1, 2012
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (Feb. 1, 2012) -- The 21st Theater Sustainment Command's, 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center conducted a walk-through rehearsal here at the Ramstein Airport, Jan. 30, in preparation for the Ramstein Gateway Reception Center's first Patriot Express flight, which is set to arrive Feb. 7.
The Patriot Express is a Department of Defense chartered method of air travel scheduled to transit between the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Ramstein Air Base, or RAB. It will be the primary airlift for Soldiers, family members and DOD civilians on permanent change-of-station and temporary-duty orders between Germany and the U.S.
The reception team at RAB will track flights and possible delays and be readily available to receive incoming personnel regardless of the time the flight arrives. The Patriot Expres reception liaisons will also help passengers clear customs and get onto pre-arranged military transportation to their new duty station.
"We're doing the final rehearsal just to make sure we've got everything in place," said Maj. Patrick Niestzche, the officer in charge of the Ramstein Gateway Reception Center, or RGRC. "We've checked all the blocks and we made sure we're prepared to receive all our Army primary change of station Soldiers and family members."
"This is our pre-execution of making sure that all the liaisons understand their roles and what they have to do when we're in the middle of processing," Niestzche added.
During the walk-through rehearsal several Army and Air Force Patriot Express and PAX terminal representatives were on hand and received a tour of the facility and a brief description of how things would work. Included in that group were U.S. Army Europe's assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel, Col. Theodore Fox; the director of the 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center, or HRSC, Col. Dan Finley; and the commander of the 721st Air Mobility Operation Group, Col. Nicholas Myers.
Previously the 1st HRSC processed about 19,000 Soldiers and family members yearly at the Frankfurt International Airport. Now with the inception of the new phase of the Patriot Express, they will be capable of processing about 25,000 Soldiers yearly through the new gateway.
"We're just going to shift the mission from Frankfurt down to Ramstein," said Niestzche. "One of the benefits of being here in Ramstein is that we're actually going to be able to pull a manifest and have predictability of who's arriving at this terminal so we can have bus transportation available, have all the systems and resources in place to receive the personnel and better process them and get them out to their military communities."
According to Niestzche, the RGRC's goal is to have the Soldiers and Family Members at the RGRC for no more than three hours from the time the first person departs the aircraft till the time the last person leaves on the bus headed toward their designated military community.
"Our goal is to ensure that all Soldiers and family members have arrived to their military communities on the same day of arrival into the country," said Niestzche.
"I'm happy to be a part of the 1st HRSC and to be able to help spearhead what we're doing here, which is starting a new program and a new way to get Soldiers in the European theater in a timely manner," said Spc. Adam P. Maxwell, a liaison at the RGRC and a native of Waterloo, Ill.