Providing a Sense of Security: USACE’s NATO Missions
When Ivana Lowe’s clients see her, they feel relaxed and can forget their daily worries. As an esthetician in Long Island, New York, her days are filled with massages, facials, and pedicures that involve hot, soapy water, casual conversation, or perhaps a sleepy client. This is what she dreamed of when she left Poland 30 years ago, as Ivana Zanio, for a better life.
Now she wants to be able to offer her family living in Poland the same comfort. “Just like what Russia is doing to Ukraine, it could do to Poland and all the different European countries. I’m talking to my family. They’re scared right now. They’re really scared,” Lowe said. about his family who still lives in a small town in the northeast of the country.
Russia’s unjustified aggression against Ukraine has raised concern in other neighboring countries, such as Poland, which is a member of NATO.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Europe District is working on several missions in Poland to support its NATO allies, including housing, equipping and training US troops. These missions are intended to deter, not escalate, potential aggression and to provide a sense of security to the citizens of NATO countries.
Housing for American soldiers
If US troops are sent to a NATO country to provide support, they need living areas.
The European District Property Office leads this effort, along with many other property functions across Europe. “Our office acquires, manages, releases and disposes of real estate interests – such as leases, licenses and international agreements – for approximately 1,700 contractual requirements in support of our partners in Europe,” said Anne Kosel, Europe District , head of the real estate division. .
Ravi Ajodah, USACE, chief of the North Atlantic Division’s Interagency, International and Environmental Division, said, “When things weren’t going well for Ukraine and US troops were deployed in Poland, the property office of the European district had to act quickly. They worked with our Polish allies to lease land which is now being used to provide shelter for troops with the 10e Army Air and Missile Defense Command and the 82n/a Airborne Division.
With additional troops recently deployed, including some in Poland, around 100,000 troops are currently stationed across Europe – the highest concentration of US forces in Europe since the end of World War II.
About 12,000 of these American soldiers are in Poland to train with Polish forces and to help evacuees from Ukraine, many of whom arrived after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
“Ukrainian evacuees in Poland are getting housing and jobs,” Lowe said. “They have adopted Poland, the country, for themselves. The United States helping Poland, they must feel protected. They feel like they have someone behind them. They are grateful. »
Equipped and ready
If a NATO country is attacked, deployed US troops will need equipment quickly.
USACE, in conjunction with Polish contractors, is building a combat-configured storage complex in Powidz, Poland to store equipment for American troops. “This complex is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe and will join the handful of similar and older sites the military operates in Western Europe in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.” , said Christopher Gardner, acting head of public affairs for the Europe district.
The project is primarily funded by James O’Riley, NATO and Europe District Senior Project Engineer, said: “This is NATO’s biggest investment in the last 30 years and will allow the rapid deployment of a full armored combat brigade wherever it is needed.
The complex will be operated by the U.S. Army’s 405e Army Field Support Brigade in partnership with local Polish forces.
Gardner also said the overall storage facility will include approximately 650,000 square feet of humidity-controlled storage space, including a vehicle maintenance facility, several additional support facilities and 58,000 square feet of storage. ammunition covered with earth. Additionally, the USACE constructed railroads and links to facilitate the movement of equipment to and from the site.
He added that the complex will store around 85 battle tanks, 190 armored fighting vehicles, 35 artillery pieces and four armored vehicle launch pads along with other support equipment.
These storage complexes save valuable time. If there were no installation, moving this amount of equipment from the United States to Poland could take 45 to 60 days. With this new site in Poland, the lead time is reduced to four to seven days to deliver the equipment intended for operational use.
Even when there is no conflict, these facilities are useful. Stored equipment can be drawn for use in training and drills.
The complex is expected to be completed late this winter or early spring, and additional structures are expected to be added to it in the future, such as a flight hangar.
In addition to this new complex, USACE has upgraded existing storage facilities that have been supporting readiness across Europe in Western NATO countries since 2017.
O’Riley noted that current events in Eastern Europe have punctuated the importance of projects like this storage facility in Powidz and others in the region. “I’m pretty proud of what we’re doing here,” he added. “It helps build a safer world and strengthen NATO’s presence and capabilities.”
Gardner added that this work is in addition to dozens of relatively smaller construction projects USACE has completed at various bases in Poland in recent years. “These range from the renovation and construction of new facilities at the Polish military base in Poznan, where the forward element of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps, or V Corps, was recently relocated to work closely with Polish partners and the U.S. Army’s 7th Training Command on improvements to Polish training areas that benefit U.S., Polish, and other partner forces who use the sites for regular training and international exercises,” did he declare.
The job is not just in support of soldiers. USACE personnel also oversaw the design and construction of projects such as runway improvements and administrative facilities at Poland’s Lask Air Base, which supports NATO Air Policing operations and where personnel of the US Air Force regularly associates with Polish allies.
Once the equipment is ready, the troops will need training.
USACE, European District, is working in close coordination with Polish partners and the U.S. Army’s 7th Training Command on upgrading several training ranges throughout Poland – including in Żagań and Drawsko Pomorskie – which are used by US, Polish and other partner forces. for regular training and international exercises.
Many of today’s training grounds haven’t been updated in decades, and USACE is shaping them for the 21st century.
“We do everything from ground improvements to vehicle maintenance facilities to gun towers and anything that facilitates training at those gun ranges,” said Israel Miller, Civil Engineer, USACE, Europe District. , which has supported a variety of training scope improvement projects at Polish military training has expanded across the country in recent years.
Miller said training fields in Poland help our Polish allies maintain their readiness and ability to defend themselves and are also important for joint training, where Polish forces, U.S. forces and other allies train together.
Ajodah, who oversees the work done by the Europe District for NATO, said: “Deterrents like all of those mentioned are important for several reasons that the general public should understand. First, they provide a stable world. It is in our best economic, societal and cultural interest. It’s nice to travel in Europe knowing you’ll be safe.
“Second, they help our NATO allies promote a sense of stability,” Ajodah continued. “Third, they prevent escalation. Things can get out of control pretty quickly. If we are not careful, greater and more devastating conflicts can arise. Bringing military equipment to Europe and providing shelter for American troops is not done to prepare for war, it is done to prevent war from happening. It is not in our interest to have a long and interminable war which would only have a negative impact on the citizens.
“And finally, we can forget it, but we are connected on a global scale, whether it’s the products we buy or our movements. Let the wicked know that humanity’s greatest and most powerful army is trying to keep the peace and be ready, that should be enough to end the strife.
Lowe’s family in Poland may not know the exact details of these USACE missions supporting NATO, but they certainly feel what the United States wants them to feel: a sense of security. “My family in Poland is very grateful for what the United States is doing and that there are American troops on the ground just in case something happens,” Lowe said. “They feel protected.”