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470th Air Base Squadron adapts, overcomes obstacles regarding COVID-19

Kelly Westerlund, 470th Air Base Squadron spouse, sews masks for members of the 470th ABS in Geilenkirchen, Germany, April 20, 2020. Many spouses and members volunteered to make masks for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David Zamora-Alvarez)

Kelly Westerlund, 470th Air Base Squadron spouse, sews masks for members of the 470th ABS in Geilenkirchen, Germany, April 20, 2020. Many spouses and members volunteered to make masks for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David Zamora-Alvarez)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cameron Green, 470th Air Base Squadron paralegal, left, and his wife Katie, right, cut and sew masks for the 470th Air Base Squadron in Geilenkirchen, Germany, April 20, 2020. Sewing masks for the 470th ABS are the Green’s way of giving back to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David Zamora-Alvarez)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cameron Green, 470th Air Base Squadron paralegal, left, and his wife Katie, right, cut and sew masks for the 470th Air Base Squadron in Geilenkirchen, Germany, April 20, 2020. Sewing masks for the 470th ABS are the Green’s way of giving back to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David Zamora-Alvarez)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

COVID-19 has posed numerous problems for military bases around the globe this year, from forcing many to adapt to minimal manning, to limiting travel and who is allowed to enter base installations. At Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany, the 470th Air Base Squadron’s adaptability is nothing new.

The mission of the 470th ABS is to support NATO, Department of Defense, and base family members while enhancing and providing combat-ready capabilities. The base functions as a “mini wing” and supports 14 Geographically Separated Units which operate throughout Europe, as well as over 170 Airmen and 15 different Air Force Specialty Codes.

As of March, Geilenkirchen NATO AB has been at minimal manning due to COVID-19.

 On base, there are many different flights like under a normal wing.

“The 470th ABS Mission Support Flight is much like your typical Mission Support Group,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Decker, 470th MSF superintendent. “However, it functions at a smaller scale with only a few individuals providing each mission support service.”

Decker said that the flight is a team composed of multiple AFSCs providing various services for not only the wing but also NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems forces.

“Security Forces, postal, finance, cyber, Traffic Management Office, supply and housing are some of the functions that are needed throughout this COVID 19 crises and have continued to provide our staple world-class customer service,” said Decker.

During this uncertain time in the COVID-19 pandemic, Decker said they have been diligently completing the mission while working with reduced manning.

“Our goal throughout this turbulent time is to scale down to essential manning; however, never compromising our ability to complete the mission,” said Decker. “We currently operate on an A and B flight schedule, so no two flights would be in physical contact with each other.”

Among those precautions, the flights are also attending meetings over video and phone calls.

“Completing the mission is a mix of being on call, e-mails, over the phone discussions, and if needed, in-person customer service,” said Decker.

Even though many obstacles have been presented by COVID-19, those are not the only limitations Airmen stationed at Geilenkirchen NATO AB must endure.

“We don’t have a commissary or a Base Exchange on base, so a lot of us shop on the economy or have to go to the closest commissary at  another GSU that is about a half hour away from the base,” said Senior Airman Aysia James, 470th ABS commander support staff. “We also don’t have an emergency room on base, so if anything serious happens we have to get transferred off base to a local hospital which can be quite scary.”

Although there are hurdles while living at a GSU, James says the base has many resources to help Airmen in their time of need.

“We have a great Airman and Family Readiness Center that act as our Force Support Squadron,” said James. “They host a lot of events and deal with the in- and out-processing information. Also, our housing office is a great resource when we first get here. They are all local nationals and have a pretty good relationship with most of the landlords in the area.”

Gelienkirchen NATO AB has proven they aren’t letting the current world health situation deter them from further continuing the vision of the 470th: Deliver world-class dynamic customer support to U.S. and NATO partners.