Garrison welcomes new commander

by Christine June
USAG Kaiserslautern

Lt. Col. Kevin Hutchison took command of U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern July 10 at the Armstrong Community Club on Vogelweh Housing.

He succeeds Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, who is going to Washington, D.C., to serve with the Army chief of staff for the Installation Management Office as the chief of the Joint Plans Branch.

“I’m looking forward to working with the members of the command, our higher headquarters, the many units and agencies in the area, and our German neighbors to ensure Kaiserslautern stands the ensign for both an Army garrison and German-American community,” said Colonel Hutchison, who followed with a similar greeting in German in his speech to the more than 200 German and American dignitaries and guests and garrison Soldiers, civilians and contractors.

Colonel Hutchison comes to the garrison from a joint assignment at NATO in Brussels, Belgium.

The garrison’s mission is to provide administrative and logistical support to all U.S. Army military and civilian personnel, their families and organizations in the KMC.
The garrison also coordinates with the Air Force commands and units in Kaiserslautern to ensure operations support and unity effort for the KMC Army forces.

Within the garrison’s footprint, there are 83 tenant activities in a 1,100-mile community consisting of 10 Army kasernes.

Col. Robert Ulses, U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg commander, said during his remarks at the ceremony that Colonel Hale is a special leader.

“Colonel Hale has led this garrison from the front for the past three years, and her infectious optimism and positive attitude has affected all those who come in contact with her,” he said.

Colonel Ulses said the garrison has achieved much during Colonel Hale’s tenure, including supporting the relocation of 17 Department of Defense, Department of Army and civilian organizations. This translated to more than 770 Soldiers, 18,000 family members and 860 civilians from five other military locations throughout Europe.

Recently, the garrison became the first DOD site overseas to achieve Star Status in the DOD Voluntary Protection Programs Center of Excellence, which is comparable to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration management systems. In fact, the VPP flag ceremony took place an hour before the change of command.

Another accomplishment Colonel Ulses mentioned was the past three Special Olympics Spring Games the garrison hosted in partnership with the German Polizei Academy in Enkenbach-Alsenborn. Last May’s Special Olympics saw the greatest number of participants with more than 800 athletes, 1,500 volunteers and record numbers of spectators resulting in more than 4,000 people attended the event, Colonel Hale said during her goodbye address.

Colonel Hale also talked about the Month of the Military Family and Month of the Military Child events that were hosted for the first time by the garrison and the 435th Air Base Wing.

As garrison commander, Colonel Hutchison will oversee command and control, base operations support, force protection, reception, staging and onward movement in support of contingency operations.

Based on Pulaski Barracks, the garrison also acts as a power-projection platform, deploying and re-deploying Army units, which it has done steadily for the past seven years.

Customer service is the most visible part of the garrison’s mission, which enhances the readiness and quality of life within the KMC.

This translates to the battalion’s three – soon to be four – child development centers, three chapels and chaplain programs, three libraries, Army Community Service’s classes and support programs, four Army clubs and sports and fitness programs including four gyms and fitness centers, and the award-winning live theater program – KMC Onstage.

The garrison provides many other community services also open to the entire community, such as Pulaski Park and Kid’s Zone, both located on Pulaski Barracks, and Java Cafe on Rhine Ordnance Barracks.

About 500 civilian personnel and 26 Soldiers are assigned to the garrison in Kaiserslautern.