It’s been called “the Cadillac of tent cities.”

The U.S. Air Force’s Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources package provides personnel with the supplies to operate in austere locations anywhere in the world. The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Central Region Storage Facility at Sanem, Luxembourg, is one of four places across the Air Force where these BEAR assets are stored.

At Sanem, the housekeeping BEAR sets are secured inside ready-to-ship containers, with enough on hand to house and feed more than 7,000 troops, said Marco Holtzem, the site’s manager.

Sitting in rows in climate-controlled warehouses at Sanem, the containers are labeled by use and their contents itemized on packing lists. Air Force planners seem to have thought of everything. A “billeting” container, for example, holds everything from tents and cots to a garden rake and fly swatter.

“People sometimes live there a long time (at a forward-deployed location), so you want to have everything,” said Paul Weckering, Warehouse Services Agency operations chief at Sanem.

There’s even a chaplain’s set with a packing list that includes Muslim, Christian, Jewish and U.S. flags, a prayer shawl, camouflage Bible cover, communion set, crucifix, rosary, yarmulke, chalice cup, Book of Mormon, a coffee maker, mop and sledgehammer, among other items.

The packages can be deployed anywhere with a water source, no matter how dirty. A reverse osmosis water-processing unit can make safe drinking water from even heavily-contaminated water, Weckering said. The tents, he added, can either be heated or cooled, depending on location.

As part of an Air Force-wide directed change, some of the BEAR assets are being moved into heavier steel containers, officials said. BEAR was primarily an air-transportable package, but with an eye toward efficiency and cost-savings, the Air Force is looking to ship some of the equipment by land or sea when needed, according to Maj. Adrian Crowley, the 435th Materiel Maintenance Squadron commander at Sembach Air Base, Germany. To transport one 550-person tent city by air, the Air Force would need five to seven C-17 cargo planes for the job, Crowley said.

“That’s a lot of airlift.”

With the conversion, the initial tent city pieces will still be sent by air, with the less critical items to follow by rail, truck or sea, he explained.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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