German Plates Part of Anti-Terrorism Effort

Sam Monroe, a Defense Logistics Agency supply specialist, affixes a new German license plate to the rear of his vehicle March 1 in Heidelberg, Germany.

Photo by Matthis Chiroux / U.S. Army Photo

HEIDELBERG, Germany (ANS) — U.S. Army Europe’s vehicle registration division is working to lower the profile of American vehicles by replacing U.S. forces license plates with standard German plates.

Americans in Europe seem to stand out — in dress, in speech, and in the vehicles they drive — said officials who added that "standout" factor can make Americans easy targets for terrorists to spot.

Changing license plates is just the first step in some cases, experts point out.

"The desired reduced profile will be enhanced if items such as bumper stickers, (Department of Defense) vehicle decals from previous assignments, dealership stickers, unit or association affiliation stickers or anything else that would tend to identify the automobile as obviously belonging to an American are removed from the vehicle," said Don Grosz, deputy chief of USAREUR’s G-3 antiterrorism division.

While recent events could increase anti-American sentiments among the extremist population in USAREUR host-nation countries, they do not represent a specific threat to DoD personnel, said Grosz. However. But he said it is still important to maintain vigilance and situational awareness at all times and practice individual security awareness.

Vehicle registration began issuing the new plates in December and will continue phasing them in during the next two years.

“The feedback we have gotten has been positive,” said Tom Lorenzini, the USAREUR vehicle registrar. “In some communities we have waiting lists of people who want to get the German license plates.”

One Heidelberg community member said he and most of his friends have wanted German plates for their vehicles for quite some time.

“I’m very happy to finally have these. It’s good to be able to blend in,” said Sam Monroe, a Defense Logistics Agency supply specialist, while affixing a German plate to the front of his vehicle. “Having that big ‘USA’ on my car always made me a bit uncomfortable, especially after the events of the last couple of years.”

To obtain the new plates, USAREUR personnel must visit their local vehicle registration office and re-register their vehicle. They will be required to turn in their current U.S. forces plates.

(Additional Source: USAREUR)