USA plates aren’t safe!

***image1***While my husband was recently TDY, my girls and I made a short road trip stopping at a German rest stop. As we were getting out of our car, I noticed a group of men sitting at a nearby table who seemed to be pointing and peering at my car and then whispering excitedly amongst themselves. After only a few steps out of the car, I overheard the men making some very unfavorable comments about Americans and American women in particular. I quickly herded my confused girls back into the car and took off for the next rest stop. The fact that my vehicle identified me as an American woman is a concern to me. Why, in this age of terrorism and anti-American sentiment, do our U.S. Army in Europe plates have to have “USA” printed on them? The only answer I received from two Airmen in the vehicle registration office was “I don’t know” and “That’s how it has always been.” Now I’m as patriotic as the next person, but do we have to advertise our nationality as we drive around Europe? While we are advised by the government to refrain from doing anything to bring attention to ourselves as Americans, our vehicles themselves make us the perfect target for anti-American harassment or God forbid, much worse.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important force protection subject. Headquarters, USAREUR is the issuing authority for all license plates issued to Department of Defense ID cardholders in Europe. HQ USAREUR staff recognizes the current USAREUR license plates readily identify those possessing them as DOD members. Over the past year, USAREUR has been working in conjunction with host nation authorities to issue host nation license plates to DOD members. This initiative is currently slated to begin at the end of this calendar year. Host nation license plates from up to 26 different geographical areas could be offered. Under the new system, new vehicles registered will be required to have host nation license plates. Owners of previously registered vehicles will be given the option to retain their current USAREUR license plates for one final registration period. At the end of that final period, they will be required to obtain host nation license plates from their local, USAREUR vehicle registration office.