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Condrey moves on after leading Stuttgart garrison through one of the Army's largest coronavirus outbreaks

The outgoing U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander, Col. Jason Condrey, talks on the phone in his office on Panzer Kaserne earlier this year. Condrey is moving to his next assignment and turning over the garrison to Col. Matthew Ziglar in a ceremony at Patch Barracks on May 19, 2021.

PAUL HUGHES/USAG STUTTGART

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 19, 2021

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STUTTGART, Germany — Col. Jason Condrey, who guided the Stuttgart military community through one of the worst early coronavirus outbreaks on a U.S. base with tough measures and uncommon transparency, is headed to Texas to serve as the executive officer of the command in charge of installations worldwide.

Condrey handed off command of the Army garrison Wednesday to Col. Matthew Ziglar during a ceremony at Patch Barracks.

“Our first priority is transitioning the community back to a new normal,” Ziglar said in a statement. “The world has changed as result of the pandemic but at the end of the day, we will return to a new normal that everybody can look forward to.”

Ziglar is already familiar with the Stuttgart community, which includes about 28,000 Americans, having spent the past year assigned to Special Operations Command Europe.

Condrey will report to Headquarters Installation Management Command in San Antonio, the Army said.

Condrey, who took command in July 2019, held frequent virtual town hall meetings that detailed the Army’s early struggles in dealing with the coronavirus on base. He laid bare the challenges from the outset as Stuttgart grappled with a rapid spike in cases.

At one point, Stuttgart had the highest known number of cases among overseas bases — known because he regularly shared case numbers while other military leaders in Europe did not.

In March 2020, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered military communities to stop reporting the number of coronavirus infections. The decision came as rates soared worldwide.

The limits on reporting in Europe imposed by the Pentagon weren’t enforced in some other areas, such as Japan and South Korea, where bases regularly updated their communities on social media with figures and explanations of how individual infections were transmitted.

Still, Condrey continued to host virtual town halls, issue warnings and sometimes tested the limits of the Pentagon’s policy.

By June, Stuttgart became the first garrison in Germany to ease its health threat level to condition Bravo, signaling a moderate risk of transmission. Since that time, the garrison has consistently reported lower infection rates than regional German averages.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver