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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Ramstein Air Base officials like to promote the installation as the biggest, the busiest and the best.

It’s no secret that the air base is among the biggest and busiest in Europe and across the Air Force.

Now, it can brag it is also the best. It has the award to prove it.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld named Ramstein as one of the winners of the 2006 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence on Tuesday. The presidential award recognizes bases for the exemplary work by the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations worldwide. The honor recognizes Ramstein as the Air Force’s top performer.

“This is, obviously from my perspective, the best thing that could possibly happen to Ramstein and all the men and women who work out here,” said Brig. Gen. Rob Kane, commander of the 86th Airlift Wing and Kaiserslautern military community.

The award comes as the Pentagon is spending tens of millions of dollars to improve the base and its quality of life. Last December, Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Base became the Air Force’s two major airlift hubs with the closure of Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt.

Col. Kurt Lohide, commander of 435th Air Base Wing, said making a good impression on the award selection committee with so much construction going on was a challenge.

But he said the base has been out in front of many other installations in the implementation of a servicewide effort to cut waste and improve efficiency, extending the Air Force’s Smart Ops 21 program to every unit.

For example, the base post office has improved its truck delivery operations, resulting in patrons getting their mail 24 hours faster, Lohide said.

Award winners will receive $1 million each. Lohide said commanders have not decided what they will do with the money, but will put it toward something that would improve quality of life or service on base.

The other winners are: Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Hinesville, Ga.; Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Yuma, Ariz.; Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Wash.; and Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna, Harrisburg, Pa.

The award will be given to representatives from the winning bases at a ceremony scheduled for May at the Pentagon’s center courtyard.


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