Security up at Landstuhl after ‘unspecified incident’
LANDSTUHL, Germany — An “unspecified incident” prompted increased security measures Thursday afternoon at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American hospital outside the U.S.
The incident came during U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s annual force protection exercise dubbed “Warrior Response 2007” and follows just weeks after threats to U.S. military installations in Germany.
“U.S. Army in Europe force protection personnel are working closely with German officials to investigate an unspecified incident in the Kaiserslautern garrison area of operations,” according to a written statement from U.S. Army Europe Spokesman Bruce Anderson. “Appropriate force protection measures are in place. Army in Europe soldiers, employees and family members are encouraged to remain vigilant and take reasonable precautions.”
The Kaiserslautern area is home to roughly 50,000 Americans and is considered to have the largest concentration of Americans outside the United States.
As of press time Thursday, officials were discussing whether to continue with the Kaiserslautern-area force protection exercise, which was scheduled to end Friday.
Other than increased security measures around the Landstuhl post, it appeared to be business as usual inside the hospital. Around 5 p.m., a traffic jam clogged the road around the post as commuters tried to head home for the day. At 5:17 p.m., a firetruck with sirens wailing and lights flashing made its way around post. Shortly thereafter, a German ambulance drove onto the post with its lights flashing.
Public affairs officials at Landstuhl deferred questions to the garrison’s public affairs office, which then referred media inquiries to U.S. Army Europe public affairs.
The unspecified incident, which is not being called a threat, materialized during a time of heightened concern about terrorists targeting Americans in Germany. On Sept. 4, German authorities arrested three men who were allegedly planning to attack U.S. military installations and locations frequented by Americans. Ramstein Air Base was one of the installations mentioned as a potential target in early press reports about the thwarted terror attack. Ramstein is roughly a 20-minute drive from Landstuhl.
On Sept. 10, Spangdahlem Air Base received a call from a German-speaking man with a Russian or Turkish accent, threatening to attack the base. Spangdahlem is about an hour and a half drive from the Kaiserslautern area.
In the summer of 2005, Landstuhl began an increased force protection initiative in response to concerns about the July 2005 terror bombings in London.
Troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan receive medical treatment at Landstuhl before moving on to stateside military hospitals.