The complete Ramstein Air Force Base guide - We Are The Mighty
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The complete Ramstein Air Force Base guide

Are you one of the fortunate among us who has OCONUS orders to Ramstein, Germany?! Stop everything and go play the lottery because you’ve just hit the jackpot. No, really! PCSing is never fun but when Ramstein AFB is your next duty station, you literally have the world at your fingertips. So go get your euros ready, remember your miles to kilometers conversion and get excited about your next move! 

This well-known installation serves the Air Force, but also is a hub for Army service members and military families who are making their way to other locations in Germany. When you call Ramstein home, you’ll have access to nine countries – all within driving distance. Hello four-day adventures! While the overseas PCS process is a little more complicated than a DITY move, it’s well worth the added effort. If you’re packing your bags and heading out to Ramstein, Germany, this installation guide is for you. Buckle up and prepare to love everything about this duty station! 

Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany

Ramstein AFB is located in Germany, in the Rheinland Pfalz region near the city of Kaiserslautern. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce that name just yet – within a few months, you’ll be calling it K-Town just like everyone else! In fact, K-Town is home to the largest community of military-connected Americans in Europe. Ramstein is 135km (about 83 miles) southwest of Frankfurt, 163km (101 miles) southeast of Luxembourg, and just a 4-hour train ride to Paris. You’re also within driving distance of Bavaria, aka German Beer Country, so make sure you plan a trip (or four!). 

A C-130J at Ramstein Air Force Base
C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, fly over the beaches of Normandy June 6, 2021. More than 150,000 soldiers from the Allied Forces stormed Normandy Beach and successfully changed the course of World War ll, June 6, 1944.

Special OCONUS Consideration

BLUF: PCSing OCONUS is a very different process than moving internally! Plan ahead and then double check those plans. Make sure you have 10 hard copies of your orders IN HAND when you get on the bird. This will help prevent a lot of potential problems. You’ll also need the following:

  • current identification for all people on your orders
  • spouse’s employment and education records
  • children’s immunization and school records
  • medical records for everyone on orders
  • insurance documents 

All dependents listed on orders must have SOFA passports to enter Germany. Begin the passport process the instant you get your orders. Okay, maybe not the instant, but as soon as possible. The process takes a long time and the last thing you and your family want to have happen is to miss out on a chance to live in Germany. 

You should receive a sponsor assignment as soon as you get your orders. A sponsor is a service member in your gaining unit who can help coordinate things for you on the ground until you arrive in-country. Units do their best to match sponsors and service members by family status and rank – which can be incredibly helpful because you’ll already have a buddy when you arrive!

Most newcomers will spend their first night in a Ramstein Lodge/hotel. Your sponsor will make these arrangements for you. If you want to check on your reservation, you can call the Ramstein Lodging Office 011-49-6371-47-4920 or DSN 480-4920 or the Ramstein Dorm Reception Center, 011-49-6371-47-3676 or DSN 314-480-3676. 

A TACP at Ramstein Air Force Base
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Iliya Tereschenko, 4th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party member, poses for a photo in Poland in May. TACPs provide the U.S. Army with airspace coordination and integration, facilitating cooperation with Polish forces and other NATO allies. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

Directions 

Whether you fly to Germany on an AMC flight or commercial airline determines your arrival terminal in Frankfurt. Military-chartered or AMC flights arrive at Ramstein AFB or Spangdahlem AFB, while commercial flights arrive at Frankfurt International Airport. 

Be advised that the likelihood of traveling on a civilian bird is less than zero, so just settle in and learn to love the imperfect unpredictability of a Patriot Express flight. 

Travel Requirements 

Traveling OCONUS as a service member is complicated. Make sure you have your paperwork in order ahead of time. All service members and dependents need a Special Issuance Passport to enter Germany. Please visit your local base or post passport office as soon as you get your orders to begin an application. Sometimes these things take a while and you wouldn’t want to pass up a chance to live in Germany!

Family members not command sponsored will not be eligible for military benefits. Please check with your local Military Personnel Section (MPS) to ensure all dependents are listed on your orders.

Contacts at Ramstein AFB

*If calling a German number from the US, be sure to dial 011 (the U.S. exit code), followed by 0049 or +49 (the country code for Germany) before dialing the number listed below. If calling from a German phone number, dial 0 followed by the number listed below.

Adult Education Center: 6371-47-2032

Adolescent Support & Counseling Services (High School): 6371-405-8212

Adolescent Support & Counseling Services (Middle School): 6371-47-7104/7105

AirForce USAREUR Driver’s Testing: 6371-47-5534 

Airman & Family Readiness Center: 6371-47-5100

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment: 6371-405-2390

Base Operator: 671-47-113

Civilian Personnel Office: 6371-47-5850

Commissary: 6371-47-7231 / 7159 / 6712

Consolidated Personal Property Shipping Office: 631-536-7727

Dormitory Reception Center: 6371-47-3676

86 VRS POV Inspection Station: 6315-36-6400

Exceptional Family Member Program-Medical Relocation Coordination Counselors: 6371-46-2375

Family Advocacy Program: 6371-46-2370

Frankfurt Customs Clearance for Courier Services: 69-690-78372 (Import); 69-690-70895 (Export)

Furnishings Management Office: 631-536-6603/6613

German-American Community Office: 631 363-3010

Health Promotion Clinic: 6371-47-4292

Housing Office: 631-536-6671

Kaiserslautern Community Lodging: 6371-47-4920

Kaiserslautern Veterinary Clinic: 6371-9464-1900

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center: 6371-86-8106

Legal Assistance: 6371-47-5911

Mental Health Clinic: 6371-46-2390

Military Family Life Counselors: 6371-47-5100

Passport Office: 6371-47-2240

Public Affairs Office: 6371-47-2458

Ramstein Northside Chapel: 6371-47-6148

Ramstein Southside Chapel: 6371-47-5753

School Liaison Office: 6371-47-9374

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Main Line: 637-147-7272

Special Needs Coordinator (EFMP-M): 6371-46-2375

Traffic Management Office: 6371-47-2163/5509

Visitor Control Center: 6371-47-5775

Vogelweh Chapel/Kapaun Chapel/Annex: 631-536-6859

Voting Assistance Office: 6371-47-8683

A C-130J at Ramstein Air Force Base
Nine C-130J Super Hercules fly in formation during the 37th Airlift Squadron’s 80th anniversary at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 25, 2022. The celebration consisted of events such as a mass airdrop, a static display including C-130J Super Hercules and a Douglas C-47, and a show of force formation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob Wongwai)

Mission and Units 

Ramstein’s mission is to Build Airmen, Project Power, and Support Partners. Simple, right? 

Ramstein Air Base is the headquarters for U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE) and is also a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) installation.

The 86th Airlift Wing is the host wing at Ramstein. The wing is trained and ready to provide full spectrum airfield operations and superior base services. The 86th conducts USAFE’s only airlift, airdrop, and aeromedical evacuation operations flying C-21, C-37, and C-130J aircraft.

In addition to USAFE and the NATO Allied Air Component Command Headquarters, also residing on Ramstein are several notable tenants. These include the 3rd Air Force and the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing – USAFE’s first wing solely dedicated to supporting battlefield Airmen. Adding to that mix is the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, providing Air Mobility Command’s command and control, en route maintenance support, and air transportation services for theater and strategic air mobility missions in Europe and Southwest Asia and a variety of others. 

Ramstein Air Force Base History

RF-4Cs with Ramstein Air Force Base
RF-4Cs of the 38th Tactical Reconnosance Squadron. United States Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Like lots of DoD installations, Ramstein started out as a swamp. This installation began as a project designed and constructed by the French Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beginning in 1949. It is an important example of international collaboration. The French designed it, local and migrant workers from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey built it. Now, we operate it.

Ramstein has been a NATO command base from the beginning. NATO’s HQ Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force moved to Ramstein in 1957, and in 1973, HQ USAFE was relocated to Ramstein during “Creek Action”, which was carried out when US Intelligence discovered that the Soviets had plans to invade Western Europe through the Fulda Gap in Germany. The military moved vital HQs to the western side of the Rhein River for protection.

In addition to the USAFE’s headquarters, Ramstein AB also housed the new NATO headquarters of the Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE). Today Ramstein is the headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) and also for NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM).

In April 2015, Ramstein Air Base was reported by International media as an important control center in the Obama administration’s drone war against targets in areas like Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.

In late Summer 2021, Ramstein Air Base became the transfer point for thousands of Afghan civilians fleeing Kabul after its fall back into Taliban hands as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from the country. Civilian airlines were allowed to land at Ramstein to take Afghan citizens to the US. Makeshift living centers were set up on base for those awaiting transfer.

37th Airlift Squadron aircraft at Ramstein Air Force Base
Multiple aircraft are displayed during a 37th Airlift Squadron 80th Anniversary static display event at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 26, 2022. Throughout the years, the 37 AS has used a variety of cargo aircraft, the current aircraft being the C-130J Super Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexcia Givens)

Things to Do Around Ramstein AFB

Hotels

On base, you’ll stay at an Air Force lodge! They’re cozy and perfect to spent time in until you get your housing. There are several on base that will be your temporary quarters until you receive housing. When it’s time to head off base for some European fun, you’ll need to complete country-appropriate clearance paperwork. That means service members have to take a safety brief for the country you’re visiting. Additionally, make sure you register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that allows US citizens living and traveling abroad to receive security updates from U.S. consulates or embassies

Restaurants

De Belgian Bistro (7.2km [4.5 miles]) – Typical German fare, such as schnitzels, burgers, and beers

Liami Restaurant (2.5km [1.5 miles]) – Sushi

Flying Pig BBQ (2.6km [1.6 miles]) – BBQ

Activities

Nanstein Castle (5.8km [3.6 miles]) – This medieval ruin is a beautiful stop just above the town of Landstuhl. Take a tour or walk around on your own and maybe even stay for lunch!

Saarbrücken (57km [35 miles]) – Looking for the perfect day trip? Head south to Saarbrücken, where you’ll find The Ludwig’s Church (a masterpiece of Baroque architecture), the Saarbrücken castle, and the Museum of Regional History.

Pfalz Wald Nature Park (51.3km [31.8 miles]) – Pfalz Wald Nature Park (Pfälzerwald e. V. Nature Park) is a great place for hiking, exploring, or just enjoying the outdoors.

This list is by no means exhaustive! Germany is a vibrant country with so much to see, explore and do. If you’re looking for ideas, check with your local command, visit your installation SATO office, or as around your community. 

Command ceremony at Ramstein Air Force Base
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Otis C. Jones, incoming 86th Airlift Wing commander, right, assumes command of the 86 AW from Maj. Gen. Derek France, Third Air Force commander, during a change of command ceremony at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 15, 2022. Before assuming command of the 86 AW, Jones was the vice superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Bertain)

Ramstein Air Force Base Housing

Contact the Military Housing Office as soon as you have orders to find out about current wait times and what to expect when you and your family arrive at Ramstein. After arrival, you’re required to attend a housing brief. The briefs cover important information about Temporary Lodging Allowance and counseling relating to renting on the economy.

For many families, living in government housing makes it easier to integrate into this new OCONUS adventure. Most housing offers both American and European electrical outlets and comes furnished with everything you need to thrive. Government housing is provided to all service members and families who are command sponsored.

Schools Near Ramstein Air Force Base 

Where you and your family live will determine if your mil-kid attends a DoDEA school or a school on the local economy. You’ll find DoDEA schools at Ramstein AFB, ranging from pre-k all the way through 12th grade. Be sure to check the school zoning requirements to ensure you understand where your child might be attending school. 

Flightline at Ramstein Air Force Base
Thanks to the support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District, which managed the construction of new ramps, hangars, warehouses, a passengar terminal and more on the Ramstein flightline, the air base is now a major hub for mobility and airlift operations throughout Europe and downrange, hosting a variety of aircraft on its flightline. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Justin Ward)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest Air Force base in Germany?

If you guessed Ramstein, you guessed right! In fact, the Ramstein BX has one of the best military food courts in the world!

How many US soldiers are  stationed at Ramstein?

There are more than 54,000 American service members on Ramstein AFB.

What planes are stationed at Ramstein Air Base?

Ramstein AB is home to the C-21, a twin turbofan engine aircraft used for cargo and passenger airlift; the C-37A, a twin-engine, turbofan aircraft acquired to fill the worldwide special air missions for high-ranking government and Defense Department officials; and the C-130 J Super Hercules, designed to accommodate oversized cargo and serve special missions as needed.

What city is Ramstein Air Base near?

The closest city is Kaiserslautern, which is just 19.1km (about 12 miles) from Ramstein AB. Frankfurt is 135km (about 83 miles) from Ramstein AFB.

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