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Long waits at Stuttgart vehicle registration office lead some troops to camp there overnight

An large influx of personnel has resulted in long waits at the vehicle registration office in Stuttgart, forcing some troops to camp out overnight for a front spot in line.

JOHN VANDIVER/STARS AND STRIPES

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 24, 2018

STUTTGART, Germany — Soldiers here are pulling overnighters in line, but there aren’t any hot concert tickets awaiting them at the end.

The waits at the Army’s vehicle registration office have become so long that one person recently pitched a tent in hopes of guaranteeing a position at the front the following day. Others have arrived as early as 4:30 a.m. to find 20 personnel already in line at the makeshift campsite.

“Something is seriously wrong here,” one irritated servicemember wrote in a Twitter post that described the nighttime scene outside Stuttgart’s vehicle registration office.

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Garrison officials in Stuttgart acknowledge the situation has reached a new extreme.

“This year, a higher-than-normal influx of newcomers has overwhelmed the appointment system, leaving a lot of people having to use the walk-in service,” said Larry Reilly, Stuttgart garrison spokesman.

There was also a higher-than-normal number of newcomers last year, which means many people are returning to re-register their cars at the same time as this year’s newcomers, Reilly said.

There isn’t enough staff to manage the influx, he said. The garrison has tried to mitigate the situation by tasking military police officers to help process vehicle registrations.

“We are looking at ways to add to the pool of people who can assist in the registration,” Reilly said.

The vehicle inspection point also has been overwhelmed by the “sheer number of people needing inspections,” he said.

While long lines and waits are an annoying fact of military life during the summer — when many servicemembers change stations — the frustration has reached a new level. For personnel waiting to handle routine business like getting their cars registered and receive new license plates, the process has the potential to stretch for weeks.

“They need more people. A lot more people,” a special operations solider who was stuck in line Thursday said. “The next online appointment is Oct. 11, which means I’ve got to try walk-ins.”

For the soldier, who declined to be identified for operational reasons, the problem is compounded by frequent missions that take him out of the area, as well as office business that limits the time he can spend in line.

On Thursday, a group of soldiers complained that the waits have been so long that their car registrations have now expired, which means they will have to start the registration process all over again.

“I can’t even drive. I had to have my car towed here,” the special operations soldier said.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver

An large influx of personnel has resulted in long waits at the vehicle registration office in Stuttgart, forcing some troops to camp out overnight for a front spot in line.
JOHN VANDIVER/STARS AND STRIPES

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