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The topic was Army transformation, and for an hour Tuesday American Forces Network radio listeners peppered the 1st Armored Division boss with a variety of questions, from base closures to reintegration training to the relocation of units.

“Forget the chain of command,” said Lon Blair, the AFN “Open Line” host, “go right to the top.”

And many did, contacting AFN-Europe headquarters in Mannheim, Germany. Between phone calls and e-mails, AFN fielded 28 queries, though only about half made the cut. Those that didn’t, said Air Force Capt. Jeff Clark, an AFN spokesman, were either off topic or too parochial in nature.

Maj. Gen. Fred D. Robinson began the call-in show by thanking 1st AD soldiers and spouses for their spirit and sacrifice. With bases closing, units transitioning and people moving, there’s an awful lot going on, the general said, but ultimately “we must remain prepared for combat.”

Joining Robinson in the studio were Lt. Col. Tom Quinn, head of the division’s personnel office, 1st AD Command Sgt. Major Roger P. Blackwood, Col. Herman “Tracy” Williams III, the commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hessen, and a few subject matter experts.

“Do you know exactly what’s going to happen to soldiers who are [separating from the service] who do not have any orders or anything? Are they staying in Friedberg or are we being moved somewhere else?”

The first caller was a soldier named Shawn, a member of the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment. The soldier, who returned from Iraq last weekend, plans to leave the Army in September. With Friedberg due to lose most of its soldiers this summer, the general said there are “a couple of options” in play.

Robinson thanked the 1st Brigade soldier for his service and put a plug in for re-enlistment. But if you don’t, Robinson said, “take great pride in the contributions you personally made to the nation.”

One of the more intriguing calls came from a retiree named Richard. He wondered if an elected school board might now make more sense for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.

“There is really no community involvement in the selection of administrators,” Richard said.

“We are talking transformation today with the 1st Armored Division,” Blair responded. “That sounds like really a DODDS-related issue, and….”

“I already know what the answer would be there,” Richard replied.

Blair quickly moved on to the next caller, a spouse from Giessen.

Anyone interested in that exchange or the rest of the show can listen to a podcast of it by going to A link to the broadcast is available.


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