Local elected leaders and host nation emergency services representatives visited the installation in Germersheim Feb. 21 to learn more about what goes on behind the gates and fences of one of their largest local employers in the area.
With more than 1,000 civilian employees, an influx of more than 30 million euro annually into the local economy, and more than 70 million euro planned in military construction projects in the next two to five years, the depot serves as a major industrial hub in the area. It’s the central distribution point for several major Department of Defense organizations that supply Soldiers and families throughout Europe and Africa with supplies, food items and retail products.
“We appreciate the chance to be here today and share information,” said Dr. Fritz Brechtel, Germersheim county commissioner and administration chief. “It is good for us to get to know about the U.S. presence and what is being done here. The briefings help us to understand. We are very thankful for the invitation to this event.”
Other distinguished guests included Marcus Schaile, Germersheim mayor; Frank Leibeck, Union Community Lingenfeld mayor; Dr. Sascha Hofmann, Germersheim deputy mayor; Gert Müller, Germersheim city councilor; Peter Beyer, Lingenfeld city councilor; Wolfgang Zöller, Germersheim chief of police; Sandra Giertzsch, Germersheim deputy chief of police; and Steffen Andres, Lingenfeld fire chief.
The depot is one of 29 sites and installations that belong to U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, headquartered in Kaiserslautern, and the community relations visit was hosted by garrison commander Col. Jason T. Edwards to continue to build and strengthen local partnerships.
“Although Germersheim is the farthest away of the many sites in our footprint, we make an effort to stay in touch with our local counterparts here as much as we can,” said Edwards, citing the garrison leadership’s recent participation in the city’s National Day of Mourning ceremony and New Year’s reception.
“These events and today’s visit help to maintain the close relationships we’ve established over the years,” added Edwards. “We try to conduct these kinds of open house gatherings every few years at each of our locations, from Baumholder to Mannheim, and sites in between. It’s a great opportunity for open discussion on mutual interests.”
At Germersheim, the U.S. Army depot houses the distribution centers for the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Europe activity, which provides logistics support to operational readiness; the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, where all commercial products bound for U.S. forces shopping facilities are initially warehoused; and the Defense Commissary Agency, from which most standard food products are dispersed to the military grocery store system across Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa.
The day’s events included briefings and a tour of the DLA headquarters building and warehouse, a windshield tour of the AAFES and DeCA sites, and a stop at the garrison’s fire department where Edwards highlighted the joint response between U.S. and German firefighters during last summer’s minor roof fire on the DLA’s main administration building.
“Our firefighters were on scene in less than five minutes and the Lingenfeld firefighters arrived shortly after that,” he said. “It was a successful example of teamwork borne from training.”
“The cooperation between our firefighters and the fire department of the Germersheim Army Depot is working perfectly,” said Mayor Leibeck. “It’s amazing.”
The Germersheim site is located on an old German training area and officially established as an Army depot in 1951 with a mission to store, receive, and issue equipment and supplies in support of U.S. Army in Europe. It was selected due to its ideal location near river, rail, air, and ground transportation ports, which continue to make it a valuable asset and major distribution hub.