Garrison unleashes the ‘tigers’ against COVID-19

Front Door ID check
Marine Sgt. Dakota James Heninger, from Marine Forces Europe and Africa, checks a community member’s identification at the Exchange on Panzer Kaserne. Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.

Story by John Reese, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

The U.S. Army Garrison- Stuttgart’s combined military and civilian “tiger” team, has been in place — and in public – since mid-March.

Their main task — assemble a joint service team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to screen community members entering highly-trafficked garrison services.

Prior to the height of the emergency, Col. Jason Condrey and Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia, the garrison command team, knew that education and information would be key to combatting the virus. Screeners would help with that effort. Garrison leaders addressed the challenge by making sure screeners were at the gates and essential services, such as the commissary and Exchange, explained Capt. Carlie Wilson, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Stuttgart.

“Col. Condrey wanted to make sure we were safeguarding the community and effectively using available personnel,” Wilson said.

The team also included 1st Sgt. Lisa Zoechbauer, HHC USAG Stuttgart and Kathryn McNeely, deputy to the garrison commander. Staff from the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center and the Stuttgart Law Center supported the effort, ensuring the team’s actions were within U.S. and German legal boundaries.

“We determined that using internal garrison employees would allow us to maintain safe procedures and best protect garrison essential services while also ensuring the combatant commands and other mission partners maintained their ability to conduct their daily mission requirements,” Wilson said. “We realized that screeners were going to be an enduring requirement and we needed to build redundancy among the screener teams to be able to execute the mission.”

Service members screening
Service members like U.S. Army Sgt. Trista Urban support garrison efforts to combat COVID-19, by limiting the number of shoppers at the Patch Barracks’ commissary, reminding people about handwashing and wiping down carts. Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.

Many different ideas and approaches were considered, Wilson said, leading to the creation of a tiger team from garrison personnel who were not able to perform their normal jobs due to COVID-19 imposed restrictions.

“The garrison needed to pull together a team to tackle the unique problem sets created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wilson explained. “Col. Condrey and the leadership identified groups of willing and able USAG-Stuttgart employees who resolutely embraced tasks assigned outside their normal duty positions, such as the screening jobs at the mission essential services.”

Identifying personnel to meet the COVID-19 demands was one of the ways the commander leveraged the garrison team to protect essential services on the installation for community members, Wilson said. The tiger teams were created to meet the commander’s and USAREUR’s intent to safeguard the community while ensuring mission readiness.

In addition to Soldiers and Marines, staff from the garrison’s directorate of Families, Morale, Welfare & Recreation also supported screening missions at Patch Barracks’ Express and food court.

“We also have other directorates providing personnel who are acting similar to a tiger team, but are functioning down in the garrison emergency operations center,” Wilson said, adding that they support the Garrison Assistance Team, a hotline for answering community member questions.