PHCE joins Bundeswehr counterparts for foodborne illness training

The Bundeswehr shows their microbiological lab at the Bundeswehr hospital in Berlin to the staff from Public Health Command Europe. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

LANDSTUHL, Germany — Staff from Public Health Command Europe and Public Health Acitvity- Rheinland Pfalz joined their German counterparts from the Bundeswehr Public Health Division in Potsdam, Germany, for a five-day joint foodborne illness training.

The training, organized by the Bundeswehr, was an opportunity to exchange expertise in various facets of foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.

“The Bundeswehr structures and methods of conducting food inspections and site visits are different from ours,” said Capt. Daniel Cole, veterinarian and officer in charge of the Hohenfels Veterinary Treatment Facility. “Therefore there’s room to learn and share with our German counterparts.”

The structure of the Bundeswehr food mission is very different from the U.S. Army’s. Food inspections in the Bundeswehr are typically performed by officers.

Army personnel frequently do audits on dining facilities on military installations and Department of Defense approved vendors. And in comparison, the Bundeswehr has responsibility for facilities at NATO installations in several areas around the world.

“Several large areas of interest and recent strong cooperation between the Bundeswehr and the U.S. Army include food defense capability and understanding the audit processes,” said Col. Michael Nippgen, Bundeswehr Oberstveterinär (veterinarian colonel).

The joint training covered lectures and hands-on training in the fields of foodborne diseases, diagnostics and epidemiologic principles with the goal of finding the source of an outbreak.

“The biggest benefit for the Bundeswehr to work with the U.S. Army is interoperability,” Nippgen said. “Understanding the differences between U.S. and German regulations can be helpful in order to harmonize our roles and to build mutual trust.”

This training, which was the first of its kind, served to build relationships between PHCE and the Bundeswehr. These relationships will serve as a foundation for ongoing training and institutional knowledge to enable the U.S Army and Bundeswehr to work together.

“Training with Bundeswehr Public Health Division provides a unique and important opportunity for PHCE to develop and sustain long-term, close relationships within Germany and as a NATO ally in training and operations,” explained Lt. Col. Renee Howell, Army Public Health Nursing Regional Consultant.

Public Health Command Europe provides public health and veterinary medical services in support of U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S Central Command to enable readiness, conserve the fighting strength, and protect the health of our military forces and their families.

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