German Command offices in Reston.
Each year, Germans and American units conduct joint training at Lake Audubon.
utopilot Drive near Dulles Airport has the feel of a place in which one would face immediate arrest for displaying even a hint of unseemly conduct. The airport and its iconic observation deck loom close by. Much of the real estate not taken up by cab services or rental car drop-off points is made up of hangars and storage warehouses. Guard boxes, chain link fences, and low-key yet unmistakably direct signs all contribute to the low humming whisper: “Any remotely suspicious behavior will get you a visit from airport police.” Within this panoply sits a considerable stockpile of supplies and material waiting to be transported to German military forces stationed throughout the United States. There are more of these forces than the average citizen might think: our vast expanses of land allow the German military to conduct the entirety of their missile testing operations on U.S. soil, and the German Air Force likewise does all of its test flying in these United States. Not to be outdone, Autopilot Drive has provided German forces with a vast and expansive hangar in which to store their wares; big enough, in fact, to accommodate over two thousand guests for an annual all-you-caneat German Beer Night. The hangar and its attendant beer fest are administered by the German Armed Forces Command Unit of the United States, headquartered in Reston off of Sunrise Valley Drive. Based in Reston for the past 25 years, the Command Unit supports and oversees the over 1,500 German soldiers and airmen stationed in the United States and
fosters cooperation and synergy between the German and American militaries as they pursue joint efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere across the globe. Reston’s proximity to Washington, D.C. and to the hangar at Dulles makes it a perfect spot for the Command Unit to carry out its duties.
For example, pilot training takes place alongside U.S. forces in New Mexico where there is plenty of space and good weather. Germans attend military and leadership schools across the U.S. and Canada. Conversely, Americans learn from the Germans both in the field and in classrooms.
What the Germans Do
International Office A Quiet Neighbor
Brigadier General Hasso Körtge, who became the commander of all German forces in the U.S. and Canada in 2010, says the purpose is to provide leadership, support and training.
“We work alongside our American counterparts, developing joint training skills that will help us to work together in locations such as Afghanistan,” Körtge said. “We also provide leadership and education through a variety of locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
Situated in an office park so wooded and bucolic as to belie the fact that it backs up onto the Dulles Toll Road, the Command Unit’s headquarters shed their otherwise uncanny resemblance to a run-of-the-mill Northern Virginia office complex when one realizes the uncommonly high incidence of German license plates in the parking lot. The sizable chunk of the Berlin Wall that greets you at the building’s entryway removes any lingering misconceptions. Officers serving their three-to-four-year tours at the Command Unit exude an assured calm that comes with having the best of both worlds. They have found in Reston, and in the D.C. area as a whole, a perfect balance between the friendly open-mindedness of the United States and the cosmopolitanism of their European homeland. “Our staff is linked to where they live,” said Commander Körtge. Captain Walter Froehler, Commander of the Unit’s headquarters, is on his second goround in the States after a tour of duty in the mid-1980s in Huntsville, Alabama. He’s been in the D.C. area since 2009.
Hangar at Dulles International Airport
serves as both a storage and distribution facility.
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