German-American Community Office observes third anniversary

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

Three years ago, Feb. 19, 2003, the German-American Community Office opened its doors in Kaiserslautern.

The GACO, co-sponsored by the KMC and the city of Kaiserslautern, provides service to Americans, both military and civilians, and Germans having problems and questions concerning German-American matters. Its bilingual staff consists of Army and Air Force host nation advisors and a relation consultant hired by the city.  

“Since our opening, we helped almost 7,000 customers in various areas,” said Rut Pinillos Cediel, 86th Airlift Wing host nation assistant.

“American customers mostly need assistance with German paperwork and have questions about community matters,” she said.

***image1***The GACO staff answers questions concerning the disposal of trash off-base, drivers’ licenses for U.S. civilians, retirement in Germany, leisure and sports activities, and a lot more.

“Some questions require a lot of time for research and calling official institutions,” said Sascha Dixon, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern host nation specialist.

Germans contact GACO to complain about air noise, get involved in German-American activities, foster friendship or to find out how to obtain a contract with the U.S. government.

The base housing office runs a small satellite operation in the GACO 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays where mostly German landlords are seeking help.

The GACO staff also does genealogical research for Americans who want to find out about their German forefathers.

“Recently, we were contacted by a female from the states who tried to find her German father,” said 86th AW host nation assistant Elke Sittel. “For three weeks, we were checking into it, e-mailing back and forth, and finally we found him and everybody was happy,” she added.

A lot of requests of all kinds to include reuniting families, tickets for the soccer world cup and possible working permits come directly from the states.

“People get to know us over there and find ways to contact us,” said Ms. Sittel.

The GACO tries to ease U.S. servicemembers’ stay in Germany and interact with other nationalities.  

Every Wednesday and Friday, the United Service Organizations newcomers’ orientations tour stops at the office where newly arrived Americans have the chance to ask questions on the spot.

To make themselves known to the KMC, the office participates in many local events such as the Kaiserslautern Christmas markets and fairs. They sponsor GACO on Tour with a booth in Vogelweh, Ramstein and Sembach base exchanges, where they hand out needful information.

GACO is on Lauterstrasse 2 (Rathaus Nord),  across from the city hall. Opening hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. For more information, call 0631-363-3010, e-mail at or visit