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European edition, Saturday, April 28, 2007

WIESBADEN, Germany — Maj. Gen. Fred D. Robinson Jr., commander of the 1st Armored Division, has a message for military families concerned that security at base housing facilities is insufficient.

“Trust us. We take it as our personal obligation,” said Robinson, responding to the unease some feel about living in ungated Army housing complexes in Wiesbaden.

“I guarantee you there’s nothing more important,” Robinson said during a Thursday interview. “There should be no question that their well-being is the No. 1 priority.”

In recent days, some Wiesbaden military families have been critical of the lack of security at three base housing locations where traffic moves freely. Focus on security sharpened after the U.S. Embassy issued a warning of an increased threat for Americans in Germany.

Robinson and Lt. Col. Timothy Wulff, Wiesbaden’s garrison commander, are offering assurances.

“The leaders do care. We live in this community. Our families are here,” said Wulff, the father of five children.

Robinson said his family also lives at one of the complexes at issue.

The question, said Robinson, is this: “How much of a bunker mentality do you want to have? We cannot live in capsules. This is not a hostile country we live in. This is a superb host nation.

“I feel just as comfortable here as any place in the U.S.,” Robinson continued. “We wouldn’t ask our families to live differently than we do.”

From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Army will be engaged in a joint emergency response exercise in Wiesbaden.

The drill will be conducted in coordination with local law enforcement and emergency responders.

Public roads run through the housing area, which has troubled some residents.

The military, however, has the power to shut the gates if a threat emerges, Robinson said. “We’ll do whatever is necessary,” he said.

Robinson did say that military and Wiesbaden officials have been in talks regarding the public roads.

No formal plan has been drafted, but there is discussion of a public works project to alter traffic flow, which would also provide added security. The discussions are in the early stages and also are linked to plans to increase the size of Wiesbaden’s military population.

In the meantime, Robinson defended the quality of security being provided on base. The military police work in tandem with German police to monitor what’s happening on base, he said. “They’re a critical part of our force-protection assets,” Robinson said.

Roving patrols and spot checks are routinely conducted and threat assessments are done around the clock, according to Robinson.

“It’s continuous,” Wulff added.

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