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Senior Airman Paul Franklin of the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, directs Staff Sgt. Matthew Huffman as he loads equipment for transportation to a cargo aircraft. The Ramstein flight line has remained busy over the past year, according to wing officials, and the end is nowhere in sight.
Senior Airman Paul Franklin of the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, directs Staff Sgt. Matthew Huffman as he loads equipment for transportation to a cargo aircraft. The Ramstein flight line has remained busy over the past year, according to wing officials, and the end is nowhere in sight. (David Underwood, Jr. / U.S. Air Force)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — People working at Ramstein are busy — and they should expect to get even busier as world events unfold, 86th Airlift Wing officials said Tuesday.

“You can just turn on the TV and listen to what’s going on,” Brig. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel III, the 86th Airlift Wing commander said during a town hall meeting Tuesday night.

“I think everyone has a sense of what’s happening in world politics and world affairs. Our job, regardless of what happens, is to be ready.”

The wing has more than 400 people deployed around the world to places such as the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. An additional 900 airmen are poised to deploy on short notice, Lessel said.

More than 135 Ramstein airmen also are deployed to Ganci Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, said 1st Lt. Phillip Ulmer, a wing spokesman. Ramstein’s 86th Contingency Response Group established the base Dec. 17, 2001, and wing airmen continue to support Enduring Freedom operations in the region from the base, he said.

Tuesday’s gathering was the first of three town hall meetings being held to address concerns and rumors circulating around the Kaiserslautern military community.

Among items discussed:

Family and child care problemsDrastic increase of construction on Ramstein causing parking and traffic woesNew enforcement plans for Department of Defense Dependents Schools on compelling students to attend the school district where families resideBut deployments and operations tempo topped the discussion list.

The general talked about the role the community might play in future Persian Gulf conflicts.

“If world tensions should escalate, and a situation of war in Iraq begins, I think what’s going to happen here in the Kaiserslautern area is going to be very similar probably to what happened during Desert Storm and Desert Shield,” Lessel said.

“You’ll see a significant increase in the airlift throughout to Rhein-Main and Ramstein as forces deploy to Europe and deploy to the Middle East.

“You’ll probably see an increase in preparedness for medical evacuations.”

Some of those preparations are under way, Lessel said. Army troops have already started pouring into the area, mainly from Rhein Ordnance Barracks. Some of the soldiers are even overflowing into the Vogelweh housing areas, he said.

And if troops deploy, Lessel said, one thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is support for their families.

“It’s real important as a community to come together to support the families of our deployed members,” he said.

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