German airmen visit wing
By Senior Airman Nathanial Taylor, 167th Airlift Wing
/ Published April 12, 2015
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Eight members of the German air force visited the 167th Airlift Wing, March 25.
The airmen, who are stationed at Dulles International Airport, coordinate logistics and supply for all incoming German military flights as part of the German Armed Forces in the United States of America and Canada.
According to Lt. Col. Sven Henniger, the officer in command of movement and transport for the Dulles detachment, the visit allowed his airmen to look outside their box and see how their American counterparts carried out a similar mission.
"We transport cargo and support all German troops who are participating in exercises or on assignment in the U.S. and Canada," Henniger said. "We also handle all material coming through and deal with the licensing and clearance for any military equipment and any International Traffic in Arms Regulation material."
While on base, Henniger and his airmen visited the small air terminal, received a community briefing in the wing conference room, met with Col. Shaun Perkowski, the 167th commander, met with members of the maintenance group and toured a C-17 and a C-5.
In addition, Henniger awarded the Shutzenschnur, or German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons proficiency, to four members of the 167th marksmanship team. The Airmen earned the medals after they were invited by their German counterparts to Fort George G. Meade to compete using a variety of German weapons. The Shutzenschnur is a prestigious award that signifies excellency in a multitude of weapons and is known to be extremely difficult to earn.
Due to the similarities between their mission and the missions of the 167th, Henniger said it is important to develop partnerships and to learn from one another.
"[Partnerships] are very important, we cannot live without them," He said. "When you are stationed in another country, you feel it every day that you need help from time to time. It is always a pleasure working with the American Forces [at Dulles]; they are always so forthcoming and helpful."
According to Tech. Sgt. Heather Law, the 167th unit deployment manager and the organizer of the tour, their visit to the 167th was the Germans' first visit to an American Air Force base and their first major exposure to the Air National Guard.
"They had been to an Army base but they had never been on an Air Force base," she said. "With us being a smaller base, and a Guard base, they wanted to see how we pulled our assets and carried out the mission."
While the German Armed Forces does have a reserve component, its structure is very different from that of its American counterpart. There are no German bases or units that are made up entirely of reserve personnel. Instead, the reserve forces augment the active duty component and train a handful of days throughout the year.
"They were very impressed with the wing," She said. "I had several of them tell me that normally when they travel to a larger base that they don't get the friendliness and sense of community that they received from everyone here. It's a family environment that they haven't gotten anywhere else that they visited."