Status: 03.10.2023, 07:17 a.m.
By: Boris Forstner
Something like this has never been driven in Altenstadt before: The outgoing commander Sven Tillery (top right) was picked up with a cheetah – the anti-aircraft tank was specially transported from a museum in Uffenheim. © Hans-Helmut Herold
After almost exactly ten years, the sergeant/non-commissioned officer candidate battalion in Altenstadt is history. For the traditional farewell trip of the outgoing commander, the soldiers had organized a special vehicle.
Altenstadt – With a dull roar, the vehicle announced itself. When it turned around the bend, even seasoned soldiers couldn't help but be amazed and pulled out their cell phones: A Gepard anti-aircraft tank, long since retired in Germany and an important defensive weapon against air attacks in the Ukraine war, drove up. "I would never have expected that," said Lieutenant Colonel Sven Tillery, completely flabbergasted. He had already driven the cheetah in his career, most recently in 2010. The fact that his colleagues organized the tank, which had never been seen in Altenstadt before, from the Museum of Civil and Defense Technology in the Franconian town of Uffenheim was the emotional highlight of a stirring day that once again marked a turning point for the Altenstadt site.
Basic training of the Bundeswehr in Altenstadt – converted since 2022
As a reminder, the FA/UA battalion was the lifeline when the existence of the Franz Josef Strauss barracks was on the brink of collapse in the course of the Bundeswehr reform. Because the parachute jump training remained in Altenstadt after long debates, there have been two different types of troops in the barracks since then. In the battalion was the basic training of all troops in all areas of training, especially shooting training. A maximum of 480 recruits were trained per year and company, which is why there were public swearing-in ceremonies for the first time. But since October 2022, the training has already been changed, and now the last recruits have been bid farewell in Altenstadt.
Commander Tillery said it was a strange feeling to stand here for the last time as commander after three years. He started in the middle of the Corona period, now he has had to make do with fewer and fewer staff since the beginning of the year. "However, the internal structure and the quality of the training have not suffered as a result," he emphasized and thanked everyone for their commitment before saying goodbye to the last non-commissioned officer course.
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It was important to Tillery that 90 percent of the permanent staff already know where they will work in the future. 80 percent of the material, a total of 6000,<> parts from camouflage nets to rifles and vehicles, have already been sent to other Bundeswehr offices throughout Germany.
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Transfer of command: Sven Tillery (left) and his successor Chris Goldhahn. In the middle, Colonel Axel Hermeling, who provided some emotional highlights. © Hans-Helmut Herold
After crossing the front, the emotional highlight of the day followed, namely the speech by Colonel Axel Hermeling, commander of the non-commissioned officer school of the army. He was visibly touched and made no secret of the fact that the dissolution of the battalion, "which I helped install ten years ago," was a mistake. Because the training of the soldiers was exemplary. For the Altenstadt site, where he had been for the first time in 1983, it was a turning point.
Final dissolution by the end of March: Former commanders say goodbye in Altenstadt
After a speech by Harald Kühn, a member of the CSU state parliament, the troop flag was rolled up and covered under the melancholic "March of the Soldier Robert Bruce", which was sung by the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Mountain Music Corps. Here, too, Hermeling threw all conventions overboard ("I sometimes do what is not intended") and brought in the three former commanders of the FA/UA battalion, all of whom had come to Altenstadt: Lieutenant Colonel Mark Emmerich (2013 - 2015), Lieutenant Colonel Roland Pietzsch (2015-2018) and Robert Badstübner (2018-2020), who now works as a civilian at the Diehl armaments company.
Harald Kühn (left), member of the state parliament Andrea Jochner-Weiß and Altenstadt's mayor Andreas Kögl were present at the march along the front. © Hans-Helmut Herold
Finally, Tillery handed over command to his former deputy Chris Goldhahn, who is allowed to manage the final dissolution until the end of March (Hermeling: "What a job, even if you would never say it"), before the loud but fitting final chord fell with the hellish noise of the cheetah – after all, Tillery is moving to the training of the 10th Panzer Division in Veitshöchheim, into an office job.
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