To the men and women of the World’s Best Wing,
We talk about resilience in the Air Force, and so far this year we’ve faced heightened tensions in the Middle East, extreme weather events, a major inspection, and most recently a novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is consuming worldwide attention. When I think about what this wing has tackled in the span of a few short months, I can’t help but be proud of the resilience within our community.
The COVID-19 disease spreading throughout Europe and much of the world is concerning, but we’re fortunate that as of the time of this writing, there were no confirmed cases of the virus in the Kaiserslautern Military Community among Department of Defense members, families or local national employees. We’re also fortunate to have incredibly capable medical professionals at the Ramstein clinic and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center who are working closely with their German public health counterparts to ensure we have the latest information and guidance to protect our population and preserve the mission.
The health and safety of every Airman, every civilian, every family member, and every mission partner remains the highest priority for me and the entire 86th Airlift Wing leadership team. In fact, the entire base is focused on this issue. The commissary and AAFES have been working to replenish their stock of hand sanitizer, base schools have a continuity of education plan ready in the event schools temporarily cancel classes, and Child Development Centers and Youth Centers are doing extra cleanings to help protect our children. We are staying closely aligned with guidance from the Department of Defense, U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, and we’re coordinating closely with our tenant units and Army partners in the KMC since this is a uniquely blended military community.
In short, we are proactively planning as a team, and we will make the best decisions we can to prevent infection and protect the base population. One of the tough decisions I’ve made is to limit gatherings of large groups of people on base. Out of an abundance of caution, I’ve postponed until further notice today’s Unit Effectiveness Inspection celebration lunch, tonight’s Maintenance and Logistics Annual Awards ceremony, and Saturday’s chief recognition ceremony. We’ll look at other social events planned for the near future to determine if the events have direct links to readiness or mission effectiveness. Large social gatherings that do not meet that criteria may need to be postponed to preserve our combat capability and maintain the health of our Airmen and families.
The DoD is also taking COVID-19 seriously. Effective today, DoD uniformed members, civilian personnel and families may not travel to, from or through locations for the next 60 days that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice. This includes permanent change of station, temporary duty, and leave travel. Unfortunately, this applies to most countries in Europe, including Germany. We’re working a plan to get our people home as soon as possible who are currently on leave or TDY outside Germany, and we’re working through the impacts this stop movement will have on our Airmen who were scheduled to PCS. We’ll keep you informed as we move forward.
While we take COVID-19 seriously, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of people who contract the virus recover completely. Wash your hands, practice good hygiene, keep your distance from sick people, disinfect common areas regularly, and stay home if you’re not feeling well. Our best course of action is to be informed and follow medical advice to protect our mission, our loved ones, and our community.
I’ve asked our commanders to ensure we document and report all impacts on training, mission execution or family quality of life due to precautions surrounding COVID-19. Continue to feed that information through your chain of command.
I’ve also asked our commanders to ensure Airmen receive the latest information regarding travel restrictions and necessary precautions. You can stay informed by accessing our COVID-19 link on our Ramstein home page (www.ramstein.af.mil) and following our official Facebook page. We are working to disseminate as much information as possible, but we need your help identifying blind spots. What COVID-19 questions or concerns have not been addressed? Post your questions on our Facebook page, and we will get you a response or address the question during an upcoming virtual town hall.
The COVID-19 situation is evolving every day, but we’re poised and ready to face this new challenge. We have to be. We’re still the Gateway to the World, and the combatant commanders we support continue to rely on the airlift we provide every day. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the mission and resilience in 2020.
Brig. Gen. Mark R. August
86th Airlift Wing Commander