KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Operation Allies Refuge is well underway at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz and Ramstein Air Base. Army units from around the area are currently conducting mission operations on the garrison footprint by providing food, water and security to over 5,000 evacuees.
USAG Rheinland-Pfalz and 21st Theater Sustainment Command are providing joint support for the local effort, with the garrison furnishing space for the OAR mission to house evacuees on Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Along with space, the garrison maintains each of the facilities by managing a cleaning contract for the area, ensuring there is water and electricity to the site and even improving lighting at the facilities.
The size and scope of the evacuation mission has created media interest from around the world. There have been a slew of international reporters interested in telling the story of the evacuees who are being housed on Rhine Ordnance Barracks.
"In the two tours I have been a part of the military community in Germany, I do not recall greater media attention on any one topic or crisis," stated Jason Tudor, garrison deputy chief of public affairs. "This event is exceptional. Doing our part to support frontline garrison operations as these events take place on our installation is a humbling and a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The 21st TSC is the operational unit in charge of the mission and they hosted several international media outlets at ROB, Aug. 30.
“The media is very important in helping us tell this story because they enhance the visibility of our operations,” said Maj. Vonnie Wright, 21st TSC public affairs officer. “The public deserves to know the situation and just how hard their military is working to assist with the Afghanistan evacuation mission.”
Representatives from Getty Images, Rupltly TV, Stars and Stripes, SWR Studio and Thomson Reuters were given a tour of the site where the evacuees are in-processed, receive medical care and are housed while they await their follow-on flight to the United States. During the tour they were able to take photos and film the site, and had an opportunity to interview medical staff, representatives from the 21st TSC and evacuees wanting to tell their story.
“It is important that we provide opportunities for the media to see operations on Rhine Ordnance Barracks because the public needs to know that this is a team effort,” stated Wright. “The 16th Sustainment Brigade, 30th Medical Brigade, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, Red Cross, USAID, and a lot of other volunteers help make this happen. These professionals have been working on a 24-hour schedule for 7 days a week to accomplish the mission and take care of the evacuees. This operation is saving lives and it’s important that this moment in history is captured by the media.”
“The media makes a tremendous impact on operations. A lot of time the media, public affairs, or public relations can be seen as an afterthought, but it is important that we tell the taxpayer what they are paying for,” stated Wright. “They deserve to know the story, and if we don’t tell the story someone else will. The message that we want to send the public is directly told through the media. You have to respect the public and their perception of what is going on.”