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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Army leaders have started late-night patrols in Vilseck in an effort to prevent further brawls between 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldiers and local Germans.

The patrols, which took effect last weekend, are among a series of measures being taken by the Army to put an end to off-base incidents involving the newly arrived Stryker soldiers, Army officials say.

Those measures were discussed at a meeting last week between 2nd Cav and U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr leaders and Vilseck city officials. It came after a series of recent incidents, including an alleged clubbing of Germans by 2nd Cav soldiers in nearby Amberg on Oct. 29.

“Measures already in place that are effective are the early closure of bars in Vilseck at [1 a.m.] in order to reduce the noise from soldiers returning from the clubs early in the morning hours and the courtesy patrols to local bars to help prevent soldiers from getting into trouble (DUI, brawls, etc.),” Maj. Wayne Marotto, 1st Armored Division public affairs officer, said in an e-mail response.

Marotto is handling media inquiries for the Stryker unit.

Other measures include patrols by unit leadership equipped with radios to allow quick response to incidents, as well as educating soldiers about German customs and the effects of alcohol, Marotto wrote.

Last week’s meeting involved 2nd Cav commander Col. John RisCassi, executive officer Maj. Bryan Denny, Grafenwöhr Garrison deputy commander Curtis Clark and Vilseck Mayor Hans-Martin Schertl, Marotto wrote.

“Col. RisCassi emphasized open lines of communication between the Vilseck leadership and the 2SCR (2nd Cav) leadership in case of any upcoming problems and that the regiment will do everything possible to prevent future problems,” he stated.

The patrols were put into effect two weeks after a group of 10 U.S. soldiers were involved a brawl with eight Germans in downtown Amberg. German police officials say the soldiers used retractable clubs during the brawl, which sent three Germans to the hospital. German police have concluded the attack was unprovoked, according to Hans Peter Klinger of the Amberg police.

It was the latest in a string of incidents since the 2nd Cavalry Regiment soldiers relocated to Germany from Fort Lewis, Wash., the Vilseck mayor said Tuesday.

Other alleged incidents include an assault by soldiers in Vilseck in late August, and again on Oct. 22, Schertl said. The August incident resulted in a German man being taken to the hospital, he said.

Stryker soldiers also were arrested for allegedly breaking the glass at an off-post business on May 22, causing 1,500 euros’ worth of damage.

Schertl said he talked with the 2nd Cav and garrison leaders at the meeting about the problem of violence involving U.S. soldiers.

“Many [local German] people have talked to me and said when it is dark outside and they have to go out alone, if they see soldiers, they don’t know how to react. Maybe they (the soldiers) will be violent or only talk or pass without talking. The feeling from the Germans is not the best. There is a lot of fear,” he said.

Army officials did not respond to specific questions about their investigation into the assaults or about Schertl’s comments.

However, Col. Lew Boone, U.S. Army Europe spokesman, said he understands the mayor’s concerns.

“However, the 2SCR is a great unit with great leadership and it will arrive at a solution that satisfies the concerns of the mayor and his constituents,” Boone wrote in a e-mail response. “We are here as guests of the German people. We enjoy being here and will do what it takes to keep the great relationship we enjoy.”

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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