Ramstein prepares for CFE treaty inspection exercise

by Taylor Kunkle
86th Airlift Wing treaty compliance officer

The 86th Airlift Wing and all tenant units are currently preparing for the upcoming Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty inspection exercise, which will take place Sept. 13 on Ramstein. 

“The CFE treaty contains a very demanding and intrusive verification regime that allows foreign inspection teams to conduct on-site inspections of U.S. forces located in Europe,” said Tim Jachowski, Threat Reduction Branch chief at U.S. Air Forces in Europe. “Each inspectable base must annually test their ability to host one of these inspections.”

There are 30 state parties (nations) that participate in the CFE treaty, and each of these parties can send a nine-person inspection team to the other 29 state parties’ declared sites to conduct on-site inspections.  Each year, the treaty members report the number of military personnel and the numbers and types of treaty limited equipment assigned by location during the annual exchange of information. There are five major categories of TLE that are inspectable under the treaty: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.
“It is the base’s responsibility to properly prepare all assigned TLE, CFE treaty inspectable facilities and containers to allow immediate access to the foreign inspection teams,” Jachowski said. 

This is the most critical aspect of the CFE inspection, because providing immediate access to inspectable locations clearly demonstrates the U.S. government’s compliance with international laws and mandatory treaty requirements.

“To meet this huge challenge, we will need the support of most of the organizations on the installation,” said Ray Crowell, 86th Airlift Wing vice director. “Units with any facilities containing doors measuring 2 meters or greater in width will play a role in this inspection.”

In accordance with the CFE treaty, these facilities are considered inspectable locations because they could store TLE items. Additionally, all containers with dimensions measuring 2 (length)-by-2 (width)-by-2 (height) meters are inspectable.

CFE inspection teams are not allowed to enter facility locations that contain doorways that are less than 2 meters in width. Even if they can initially enter a facility door measuring 2 meters or greater in width, once they reach a section in the facility that doesn’t have a 2 meter or greater entrance, then they must stop.  
Units that control facilities or own containers that meet the inspectable CFE treaty criteria must be to able provide immediate access during the inspection window. If possible, doors and containers should be left open on inspection day. If this is not possible, personnel must be standing by with the keys or combinations in-hand.

CFE inspection teams are authorized to return to the same inspectable location multiple times, so these locations must be accessible until the inspection has been terminated by the 86th AW Command Post. The inspection window for the exercise on Sept. 13 will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The 86th AW, the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing have appointed group-level CFE points of contact who have received specific CFE training and who will work with unit POCs and facility managers to prepare for CFE inspections. The Treaty Compliance Office will work directly with the other Ramstein tenant units concerning their CFE inspection support responsibilities. CFE inspections at Ramstein only affect those organizations that are physically located within the base boundary (fence line). 

“CFE treaty compliance inspections are no-fail missions and we need to approach this CFE inspection exercise with the same commitment to success,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon, 86th Airlift Wing commander. “The primary measurement of success for Ramstein Air Base units will be timely and safe access to all inspectable facilities.”

Units are encouraged to contact the 86th AW Treaty Compliance Office at 480-2771 with any questions concerning CFE inspections in general or specifically about the Sept. 13 exercise.