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PHOTO CAPTION:  U.S. Army leaders from JMRC in Hohenfels, Germany met with local community leaders during their annual Community Relations Advisory Committee (CRAC) meeting held in Lupburg, Germany on October 16, 2013. The CRAC is an invaluable partnership between U.S. Soldiers and families and their German neighbors who host them. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Barrieau/Released)

October 17, 2013
By 1st. Lt. Dennis S. Whitt

HOHENFELS, Germany -- Hohenfels senior leaders from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) and neighboring German Burgermeisters (BM) convened in the medieval castle of Lupburg on the 16th of October in an effort to foster community relations and build upon their long standing friendship.

Located in the scenic Oberpfalz region of Bavaria, the JMRC employs hundreds of local German citizens, strengthening the interoperability between the U.S. and Germany.

Col. John Norris, Commander of Operations Group at JMRC, initiated the Community Relations Advisory Council (CRAC) as a cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership that has proved to be an invaluable community relations tool.

As the second annual meeting between the eleven surrounding Burgermeisters and their partnered Army senior leaders, this meeting was as important as it was unique.

"The CRAC is a significant event where we share information and connect with each other face to face and reflect on the great partnership events that have been made possible through our friendship," stated Lt. Col. John Strange, Commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels.

The community connector partnership has resulted in a number of unique opportunities for both U.S. Soldiers and their German neighbors as each partnered team is encouraged to participate together in events such as aerial over flights and tours of the training area.

"The CRAC meeting is a trust building event that allows us to know what is going on within and around the training area," said BM Alfred Meier of Lupburg, host of this year's CRAC.

The formal get-togethers provide a way for the partners to inform each other of potential issues, solve problems and highlight opportunities while integrating into a shared community that has become unique to the Hohenfels area.

In reciprocation, the local German mayors expressed their interest in integrating the U.S. Soldiers and their families into the local communities in which many of JMRC's Soldiers reside.

"We want to relate the continuing commitment the U.S. has made with the neighboring German communities," said Norris. "We may change, we may evolve, but we will be an enduring presence and our friendship will grow."

The Joint Multination Readiness Center is the U.S. Army's only overseas Combat Training Center. It is part of the Joint Multinational Training Command and trains more than 60,000 soldiers (U.S. and allied) annually.