Partnership with Landeskommando strong despite COVID-19

Soldiers of the Hessen State Command from the USAG Wiesbaden participate in a change of command ceremony on Clay Kaserne.
(Courtesy photo by Landeskommando Hessen)

In 2014, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden made it official: A formal partnership between the Landeskommando Hessen and USAG Wiesbaden was established on Nov. 25, 2014 and has been standing strong ever since. The partnership was established to cultivate solidarity and friendship between both armies and to engage in joint training fostering cooperation between the two.

The Landeskommando Hessen, which is the Hessen State Command of the German Army (Bundeswehr), supports the state government in all tasks related to civilian-military cooperation. This includes military support during natural disasters, emergencies responses, and even personnel assistance during pandemics, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The official partnership was initiated on the basis of both Army’s mutual tasks in serving their countries, but also to develop training opportunities.

Landeskommando Public Affairs Officer, Lt. Col. Meinrad Angermayer, explains that several training events are now available to the soldiers, ranging from joint excursions, joint training marches and acquiring shooting badges, as well as social gatherings, luncheons and dinners.

This exchanges between soldiers is also one of the essential aspects that Landeskommando Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Olaf von Roeder, appreciates about the partnership: “We get to know and understand each other during these events, and at the same time we can show our partners the area, what there is to discover and how we live here.”

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of those joint events to a sudden halt. Every year in February, representatives of the Landeskommando are invited to Clay Kaserne to experience a day in the life of a U.S. Army soldier, see how the airfield is structured or learn about the school system in the U.S. Army. Last year, however, the event had to be postponed due to the first COVID-19 lockdown. This year, again, the pandemic has made such events impossible.

Brig. Gen. von Roeder regrets not seeing his partners and friends from the U.S. Army. “I miss the events that have been held so far, which are recurring every year. No asparagus dinner with our American friends, no meeting at our annual reception, no military competitions at our sports festival this year,” he said.

However, plans and discussions on improving the joint training cannot be stopped by a virus. According to the Landeskommando Commanding General, he anticipates more events and trainings in the future. “Whenever we get together, I am reminded of the importance of our exchange, so that cultural understanding and friendship can be fostered. I’m sure my soldiers would like to shoot American weapons again, compete in a soccer match against the Garrison team, or even watch the Super Bowl,” von Roeder said.

USAG Wiesbaden Commander, Col. Mario Washington has already asked his team to continue planning for joint events again. “We are looking forward to developing more training opportunities for our Soldiers and the Landeskommando Soldiers in the future, once the COVID-19 measures permit these kinds of meetings again,” he said.