The largest U.S. Air Force base in Europe will come under multiple “attacks” this week.
Ramstein Air Base in Germany will conduct a weeklong exercise starting Monday to test the responses of about 6,000 airmen in the 86th Airlift Wing and the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing to “a variety of attacks,” according to Lt. Col. Joseph Roth, chief of the base’s inspections and readiness office.
The simulated attacks — and the units’ responses — will largely be limited to the two wings’ work areas, Roth said. But there could be some spillover that causes delays or disruption in services elsewhere around the base.
“To the average person who is showing up at the base, there may be a time that a gate is not available for them to use and they’ll have to wait,” he said. “There are some places where traffic will be rerouted.”
The simulated attacks are meant to be similar to ones that airmen might face in places such as Afghanistan or Iraq and could feature smoke, loud explosions and sounds of gunfire, Roth said. Organizers have tried to warn the local German and American populations of the impending exercise.
Though the drills are designed to test airmen around the clock during the period, Roth said organizers will attempt to keep disturbances during traditional no-fly or “quiet” times to a minimum.
Similar exercises are held on a smaller scale a few times a year, Roth said. This particular one is geared to test the skills and teamwork of airmen and units as well as to help the two wings prepare for an inspection in September.
An airfield at Bitburg, Germany, formerly part of a U.S. air base that no longer exists, will also be used during the exercise, Roth said.