Heidelberg commander sees all in KMC

Story and photo by Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

***image1***It’s far better to “physically see” an issue instead of just hearing about it, said U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg Commander Col. Robert Ulses, during his visit to the KMC Aug. 21.

“There have been numerous discussions affecting the Kaiserslautern footprint such as maintenance funding that we are consolidating into one list from the four different communities,” said Colonel Ulses, who took command July 18. “I have to help prioritize this list for the end-of-the-year funding, so, it’s important for me to come down here and see it.”

One of these maintenance issues is the renovation of two buildings on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for the Warrior Transition Unit for military outpatients. The unit is currently based in one building on Kleber Kaserne, more than a half-an-hour distance from the hospital. Completion date is scheduled for Oct. 15.

“Now, I’ve been able to physically see these buildings – what work has been and still needs to be done,” he said.

Colonel Ulses is responsible for the quality support services for about 46,000 Soldiers, civilians, contractors and retirees, and their families in Heidelberg, and is also the direct-reporting garrison commander for Darmstadt, Mannheim and Kaiserslautern.

Out of these communities, Kaiserslautern is the only one listed as an enduring installation in the Army’s transformation plan.

“The only difference is that we know we can submit for new buildings for K-Town because it will be around, but that doesn’t mean we do not pay attention to the other communities,” said Colonel Ulses, who will be visiting Mannheim and Darmstadt in the next several weeks.

Close to 60,000 people are stationed at Army and Air Force bases throughout the KMC, making it the largest American military population outside of the United States.

Based on Pulaski Barracks, the garrison provides services to about 20,000 Army personnel and their families, as well as other military servicemembers and their families. More than 40 Army units are located at 10 installations scattered throughout the Kaiserslautern footprint, about 1,200 square miles.

“Our intent was not to hide anything. We wanted to show him Kaiserslautern and as many facilities as possible – good and bad – because when we go up to Heidelberg and brief our different challenges here, he knows what we are talking about because he saw those facilities,” said Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, Kaiserslautern garrison commander.

Whirlwind is an understatement when talking about his visit here. In less than six hours, he visited eight installations, covering about 960 square miles. He saw as many facilities as possible, from child development centers to force protection structures.

He tried out the Enhanced Security Pedestrian Gate that was initiated and field tested here in 2006 for the Army.  This pedestrian gate replaces onsite guards with remote guards who can see and hear via cameras and speakers.

“It was nice today to get a really good look – a good representation – of what Kaiserslautern is all about,” he said.

Accompanying the commander on the visit were his Deputy Commander Roy Hurndon and Command Sgt. Major Yolanda Lomax.