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German general strengthens partnership with U.S.

by Michael Briggs
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

10/18/2007 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN)  -- During a 10-day visit to the U.S., the commander of the German air force training command said he wanted to strengthen the German-U.S. military partnership.

Brig. Gen. Gerd Bischof visited German trainees stationed at several U.S. locations Oct. 7 to 16, and received tours and briefings that highlighted American military training programs of interest to the German air force.

"The United States is our most important and strongest partner," General Bischof said Oct. 12 after a morning of briefings here with Gen. William R. Looney III, commander of Air Education and Training Command.

"This transatlantic partnership has developed the world in a way that has led to an existence that benefits us all," General Bischof said.  "Therefore, everybody should do their best to maintain and promote that partnership, and to put that partnership in a multinational context so that it's not only a German-U.S. partnership, but that it's a Europe-U.S. partnership. The United States needs a strong partner, and Europe is the strongest partner I can imagine."

To maintain that partnership means training together and making personal contact to discuss common interests and challenges, he said.

Visits by allied military leaders help strengthen the bond the U.S. Air Force relies on to execute its global mission, General Looney said.

"Meeting face-to-face with a coalition partner allows us to discuss our operations and share ideas that improve how we train and fight together," General Looney said. "We're proud to conduct training for the German air force. It makes for a smoother integration on the battle front and paves the way for our joint success."

General Bischof spent time with German troops in training at Goodyear, Ariz.; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; Sheppard and Randolph Air Force Bases, Texas; and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

He said he was impressed with the training environment and support German trainees receive in the U.S.

"I have met people with a high degree of professionalism," General Bischof said. "I received every insight into the training operations in an open atmosphere, and I saw firsthand that the support we get from the United States is state-of-the-art and outstanding."

He said bases in Germany do not often enjoy the community support he witnessed here.

"The 600 Germans at Holloman, for example, are integrated in the American community in a way that is astonishing," he said. "It's truly a family-oriented situation there. That gives me a good feeling. The training conditions there are perfect too, such as the weather, airspace and technical support. They are better than any place we have in Germany."

In contrast to AETC's work force of nearly 100,000 members who graduate about 175,000 students annually, General Bischof's command comprises a force of 11,000 who graduate 27,000 students a year from basic, flying, technical, NCO and officer training courses. While those missions are similar to AETC's, the German air force training command teaches only air force-specific courses, he said. Training for career fields like firefighting and security forces take place in the larger Bundeswehr, the unified German defense force.

The general said he would like his command to leverage technology like the U.S. Air Force does, such as conducting distance learning courses.

"You are more advanced in those capabilities," General Bischof said. "We are just starting distance learning in our training and have only run some test programs."

Despite the difference in the size of their operations and techniques they use to train their air forces, General Bischof said the U.S. and Germany have a similar resolve to win the global war on terrorism.

"We, as Germans, understand that the war on terrorism is an international mission," he said. "We know we have to take international responsibility. We have made big strides in the past 15 years. We have German soldiers in Afghanistan, Africa and 10 deployment locations outside of Europe. We understand that we cannot defend our interests at our borders alone -- we have to go beyond that. We are still growing and developing our capabilities to that end, so we need your help, understanding and solidarity."

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