By Keith Pannell
Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany – U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz is opening its doors to help Soldiers coming to Germany straight from Advanced Individual Training in the United States who need to be quarantined for 14 days per host country requirements.
“This is another example of working with our German state partners to ensure we adhere to the rules they’ve put in place for foreign travel in the overall effort to minimize any possible spread of COVID-19,” said Col. Jason T. Edwards, garrison commander. “The Soldiers were tested before they left, and were tested again upon arrival, and all were negative.”
Normally, most AIT Soldiers would take leave en route to their unit and first duty assignment. However, due to the Stop Movement order by the Secretary of Defense in March, AIT Soldiers have been held at their training installations until the restart of movement for official travel.
At one AIT site, the newly-graduated Soldiers were doing refresher training every day, performing maintenance on their military vehicles and making themselves available to instructors to help the class that came after them, according to Capt. Jared Allen, 428th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Now that AIT Soldiers have started moving to their new places of duty, the first iteration of Soldiers coming to Germany arrived here Saturday to go into the 14-day quarantine.
The garrison is providing accommodations in the fenced-off Deployment Processing Center area and is finding innovative ways to provide necessities for the incoming AIT Soldiers, said Henry Kaaihue, S 3/5/7 director.
Kaaihue said the garrison’s role in housing the AIT Soldiers is to support the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, with the 16th Sustainment Brigade having the lead for this mission.
“Col. Scott Kindberg (16th SB Commander) and the entire team have done a superb job of developing an incredible plan for accomplishing the task, but also taking care of our most precious resource, our Soldiers,” added Edwards, praising the overall combined effort. “The cooperation has been outstanding throughout this entire time.”
Along with the 21st TSC, the 409th Contracting Support Brigade is in charge of finding contractors from the local economy to provide the necessities the incoming Soldiers will need during their two weeks in the DPC. However, the brigade needed 30 days to get contracts online. That’s where the garrison Directorate of Public Works stepped in.
“The DPW has had to supply a temporary solution for latrines, showers and hand washing stations,” said George Brown, DPW administration and operations branch chief. “The DPW provided a bridge to cover that 30-day gap.”
While DPW has the most visible part of the mission by providing buildings, electricity and other necessities, other garrison agencies also play important parts in the process.
“The Directorate of Human Resources will be providing briefings to the Soldiers, the Logistics Readiness Center is providing busses and Family and MWR will be providing a few things the Soldiers can do while quarantined, as well as lodging for a few families who came in with their AIT Soldiers,” said Kaaihue. “This is really an all-encompassing garrison reaction drill to something we had no idea was coming, but the garrison is ready to handle it.”
In addition, the USO-Kaiserslautern team dropped off comfort bags for the new arrivals, said USAG RP Command Sgt. Maj. D. Brett Waterhouse.