German community leaders watch artillery demo on US base
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Soldiers with the 7th Army Training Command on Monday invited local German mayors, police officials and others to watch live artillery fire and get a glimpse of life behind the scenes on post.
The visit was partly aimed at easing concerns of residents about increased noise and traffic levels, as the base is hosting an additional 3,700 soldiers from 26 countries for the Dynamic Front exercise, a large-scale, U.S.-led drill that began Feb. 23 and ends on Saturday.
For Stefan Horndasch, deputy commissioner from Ansbach county, the visit shed light on what was happening so close to his community.
“We wonder what is going on when we hear more helicopters and artillery firing,” he said. “When the U.S. (Army) invited us to come on base and see what is happening, we wanted to come.”
Many community leaders, including Horndasch, had no idea how many countries were participating in the exercise.
“It was very interesting for me to find that this was not just training for the U.S. Army, but training for many nations in a very big (drill),” Horndasch said. Knowing the reason behind the increased activity reassured the officials of the exercise’s importance, he said.
For the U.S. soldiers demonstrating their artillery, the presence of German officials gave them the opportunity to showcase their prowess with the guns.
Spc. Mason Leverenz, a cannoneer with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, fired about a dozen rounds in front of the crowd of onlookers.
“It’s nice to show off what we do,” he said. “It’s great to be part of such a big event and to know that all these people care about what we’re doing.”