News>Parliament tour encourages cross-nation partnership
MAINZ, Germany – Michael Billen, center in black, Rheinland-Pfalz Parliament representative of the Bitburg-Pruem district, welcomes 52nd Fighter Wing leadership to the state parliament building here Oct. 10, 2012, for a familiarization tour of the city and a crash course in local German governance. Wing leadership and German government representatives of the communities surrounding Spangdahlem Air Base meet periodically to gain an understanding of each other’s priorities, vision and points of view. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
MAINZ, Germany – Brian Huck, a Mainz tour guide, talks about the Romanesque features of the St. Martin’s Cathedral here Oct. 10, 2012, during a familiarization tour with 52nd Fighter Wing leadership. Huck led the tour to many historic areas and buildings throughout the city to showcase the Democratic evolution of Germany. The wing leaders visited Mainz to meet with and gain appreciation for the German government representatives of communities surrounding Spangdahlem Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
MAINZ, Germany – U.S. Air Force Col. Dave Julazadeh, right, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, talks with Michael Billen, Rheinland-Pfalz Parliament representative of the Bitburg-Pruem district, during a familiarization tour of the parliament building here Oct. 10, 2012. During the tour, Julazadeh and Billen shared information on the procedures of U.S and German government operations. These types of events aim to enhance the partnership between the two countries by highlighting their perspectives, priorities and points of view. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
MAINZ, Germany – Leadership from the 52nd Fighter Wing listen to a brief Oct. 10, 2012, about German parliament during a familiarization tour of Mainz and the Rheinland-Pfalz Parliament building. After a tour of the city, guests sat in the main parliament seating area to discuss the differences between the two countries’ government procedures. Wing leadership and German government representatives of the communities surrounding Spangdahlem Air Base meet periodically to gain an understanding of each other’s priorities, vision and points of view. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
MAINZ, Germany – Michael Billen, left, Rheinland-Pfalz Parliament representative of the Bitburg-Pruem district; Bernhard Schaefer, center, 52nd Fighter Wing community relations advisor; Herbert Schneiders, Rheinland-Pfalz Parliament representative of the Vulkaneifel district; and U.S. Air Force Col. Dave Julazadeh, 52nd FW commander, talk Oct. 10, 2012, about the functions of the German state parliament here. Wing leadership toured the city of Mainz and discussed how Spangdahlem Air Base works with the neighboring communities to solve shared problems or issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee/Released)
by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/11/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Leadership from the 52nd Fighter Wing toured the Rheinland-Pfalz parliament in Mainz Oct. 10, 2012.
The visit included a walking tour of the historic sections of Mainz and a crash course on German government procedures and how the United States and Germany interact with each other.
"A partnership is built between people," said Bitburg-Pruem representative Michael Billen about the importance of active communication. "Governments cannot simply form a partnership -- it takes time and face-to-face contact to establish that partnership between the peoples of the two countries."
The citizens of Germany and U.S. residents stationed here share some of the same burdens: Both groups have a direct responsibility for protecting the environment, suffer through the noise of aircraft operations and live under the constraints of a fluctuating worldwide economy. Wing and local leadership minimize the impact of these issues when both understand each others' priorities, vision and points of view.
"It's important to understand (the representatives') perspective," said U.S. Air Force Col. Dave Julazadeh, 52nd FW commander. "We, as U.S. military members in their community, have to understand what drives them, because each district or region may have a different priority. Every base-level decision in one way or another affects the local area, and the representatives are the voice of their community members."
State parliament members have two main tasks, said Herbert Schneiders, Rheinland-Pfalz parliament representative of the Vulkaneifel district. They work with legislation and are the direct political representatives for their assigned district. As the spokespeople for the areas surrounding Spangdahlem AB, he and Billen aim to understand military operations so they can answer or field any concerns brought forth from their constituents. Familiarization tours like this help the base and local community build those strong ties, enabling faster and easier communication.
"We know each other now," Schneiders continued. "Now, we can get on the phone and have a face to put to the name."
The familiarity between U.S. senior officers and German officials is also developed from other directions, Schneiders said. Wing leadership often socializes with local civic leaders off duty, and the base often opens its gates for meetings or tours.
"The key is just having the relationships in the first place," Julazadeh said. "It's all about the people and personalities."