On October 19, 2023, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to inaugurate the expansion of the Warehouses Service Agency (WSA) complex in Sanem, which is already the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s (USAFE) largest depot on the continent. The Deployable Air Base System support and storage facilities project represents $100 million (€95 million) U.S. investment via the European Deterrence Initiative and will add more than 18,500 square meters or 200,000 square feet of additional facility space to the WSA. The project supports the readiness and responsiveness of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, reinforcing NATO’s collective defense and deterrence.
The U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, Tom Barrett, underscored the importance of the expansion project: “This 100 million dollars in investment made here in Luxembourg is another demonstration of the U.S. commitment to European defense and to the NATO Alliance. This expansion project is part of our response to the rapidly evolving security context, which necessitates that all Allies continue to invest in modernizing our common defense and deterrence.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, François Bausch, emphasized: “Luxembourg and the U.S. share a long history of bilateral cooperation. With this new project, we keep the momentum alive. Authorities from the U.S., Luxembourg and the management of WSA have been working together over the last couple of years to make this extension project happen. This significant investment by the U.S. is proof and recognition that WSA is providing excellent services to USAFE. It echoes the continued commitment of the United States in Europe and in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.”
"This project will expand the already robust capabilities here at Sanem and bring increased capability and deterrence to protect our shared interests in Europe. As United States Air Forces in Europe evolves to meet current and future threats, this site represents the strong collaboration between the United States and the Government of Luxembourg, and I want to thank all the stakeholders from both governments that made today's groundbreaking event possible," commented Colonel Vinson, Logistics Readiness Division Chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District is managing the construction in coordination with the WSA and the Luxembourg Directorate of Defense. “This is the first project of this scale for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers here in Luxembourg and we’re excited to be working with our U.S. Air Force, U.S. Embassy and Luxembourg host nation partners on this impressive project,” said Europe District Deputy Chief of Engineering and Construction, Cheryl Fromme, while in Luxembourg for the ceremony. “Though it’s a newer location for us here, the mission is the same one that we’re proud to contribute to with our projects across Europe – supporting regional security by delivering facilities that enable U.S. forces and our allies and partners.”
The Warehouses Service Agency (WSA) was established and designated by the government of Luxembourg to perform the services set forth in a memorandum of understanding between Luxembourg and the United States dating back to December 1978. The WSA is mandated, by decision of the Government in Council of June 13, 1980 and November 6, 1981, to act in the name and on behalf of the State vis-à-vis NATO, the U.S. Army or any other military or civil authority. Since 1994, the Sanem site has been used for storing U.S. Air Force equipment.
Located in the city of Sanem, Luxembourg, the facility provides warehousing, logistical support and maintenance services for military equipment, goods and merchandise and works in close partnership with the 86th Materiel Maintenance Squadron of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). The facility houses USAFE's War Reserve Materiel (WRM), which includes vehicles, aerospace ground equipment, aircraft support equipment and various airfield support equipment. However, no weapons nor munitions are stored at Sanem.
WSA maintains, reconstitutes, and stores WRM in a posture to rapidly deploy worldwide within 24 hours for any contingency. In 2020, responding to a request by the Government of Luxembourg, the U.S. Air Force provided power generators and refrigeration units from the WSA facility to the Luxembourg Army to support Luxembourg’s temporary field hospitals in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
The WSA facility provides over 200 jobs to the Sanem and Luxembourg community and contributes to local hospitality economy with large numbers of regular U.S. and NATO military visitors to the site.
The support and storage facilities project enhances the U.S. Air Force’s Deployable Air Base System, a concept which allows a collection of shelters, vehicles, construction equipment and other gear to be pre-positioned and moved to any place the Air Force needs to stand up air operations.
The Deployable Air Base System Support and Storage Facilities project will add more than 200,000 square feet of additional storage and maintenance facilities to the WSA. This includes:
This expansion project is funded through the European Deterrence Initiative. The United States established the European Deterrence Initiative in June 2014 after Russia invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea. The initiative was established to enhance the capability and readiness of U.S. Forces, NATO allies, and regional partners in Europe to deter Russian aggression.
(Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg)
German and U.S. Army leaders marked the formal start of construction for a $1.3 billion project here intended to include nearly 50 buildings and house more than 5,000 Soldiers. The first Operational Readiness Training Complex will be built over about 10 years and will include all the facilities needed for an entire brigade set of troops and equipment to train and operate on a rotational basis.
"There will be maintenance facilities, there will be training facilities, modern barracks, fitness facilities, dining facilities,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District Commander Col. Dan Kent while celebrating the groundbreaking for site preparation and infrastructure for the larger ORTC program last week. “In some ways it’s much like a city in that they can do everything they need to do from this platform.”
The new facilities will be meant for U.S., Allied and partner troops on rotational deployments in Grafenwoehr in Germany for training exercises, pre-deployment preparation or any number of other mission essential purposes.
Kent joined Brig. Gen. 7th Army Training Command Commanding General Brig. Gen. Steven Carpenter, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Commander Col. Kevin Poole, Bavaria State Minister Joachim Herrmann and Grafenwoehr Mayor Edgar Knobloch at the event highlighting the project’s kickoff.
"I would like to thank all the project partners who are working very hard on the construction of the ORTC," said Herrmann. "I very much welcome the fact that the Grafenwoehr will be greatly expanded over the next ten years. (We) have great interest in U.S. guest forces staying and continuing to invest."
Kent praised the partnership between Europe District and 7th ATC, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria – in particular with their Directorate of Public Works -- German Bauamt teammates with Amberg-Sulzbach and the local contractor Marksgraf.
Kent also thanked the wide range of Europe District personnel who have worked for years to get to this point and will continue to support the project going forward.
"A project of this scale takes a team and it's important on a day like this to recognize their contributions," he said. "There have been many people who have worked for years toward this moment in our design, contracting, project management, base planning and other sections at our HQ in Wiesbaden,” Kent said. "I am also especially proud of our team here in Bavaria, who will be on the ground and help keep this amazing effort moving forward."
Col. Daniel R. Kent became the 23rd commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, during a military change of command ceremony at the Amelia Earhart Center July 5, 2023. He assumed leadership from Col. Patrick J Dagon, who had commanded Europe District since June 2020.
Kent takes command of one of the largest and most globally diverse Districts in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“To the great men and women of the Europe District, the work you do every day supports our national interests. You deserve to be very proud,” Kent said. “I too am proud, humbled and excited to lead this organization as we continue to engineer solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges and build on a historic legacy in Europe and beyond.”
The Europe District provides engineering, construction management and general services in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe, Africa and Israel. A presence in Europe since 1945, and headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, Europe District and its more than 500 military, civilian, and contracted employees execute a program in excess of $7.3 billion with projects in 44 countries.
Kent has played a key role in U.S. military activities in Europe and Africa in prior assignments as well. He previously served as the Command Engineer for U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, where he supported Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy special operations forces conducting operations, exercises, and theater security cooperation throughout Africa. Most recently, he briefly served as the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Chief of Operations and then transitioned to the Director of Operations for the Security Assistance Group – Ukraine where he coordinated security assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Kent is a combat veteran with deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal. He has earned the Combat Action Badge, Ranger Tab, Sapper Tab, and Parachutist Badge.
Kent’s military education includes the Engineer Officer Basic Course, Engineer Captains Career Course, Inspector General Course, Joint Engineer Operations Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla, a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National War College and is a registered Project Management Professional.
Dagon will serve as the Executive Officer for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works at the Pentagon.
On June 24, 1948, with the Cold War in its early stages, the Soviet Union blocked access for all supplies going into portions of West Berlin. This cut roughly 2 million people living there off from the most basic necessities. Gen. Lucius D. Clay was the commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Europe and the military governor of American zone in Germany at the time and quickly and decisively called for what is now known as the Berlin Airlift.
It was an ambitious idea and involved using war-torn infrastructure and limited resources to execute the largest airlift in history to provide basic necessities to the men, women and children living in the sectors of Berlin overseen by Western European allies. The newly formed U.S. Air Force made the first deliveries via the one runway available at Tempelhof Airstrip just two days later on June 26, 1948. Between June 26, 1948 and September 30, 1949, the airlift delivered more than 2.3 million tons of cargo according to the U.S. Air Force Historical Support Division. This included everything from food to medicine to coal to support those behind the blockade.
It was immediately obvious that more than one runway would be needed and U.S. Army engineers began work building two additional runways at Tempelhof Airstrip right away. The first new runway, along with taxiway improvements, were in use by September 1948 and the third runway was in use by Thanksgiving that same year.
While the improvements at Tempelhof were underway, crews also began building the new Tegel Airport on the site of a former German artillery range in August 1948. In addition to two new runways, crews there also built administrative facilities, a hangar, a warehouse, a control tower and more. The first new runway at Tegel Airport was operational by Christmas 1948 and the second was in use the next summer.
Maj. Gen. Norman Delbridge retired as the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1986. In the earliest days of his career though, he was one of those Army engineers overseeing crews building and maintaining runways and other facilities at Tempelhof Airport and later Tegel Airport in Berlin.
Delbridge shared his experiences in Berlin with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Office of History in 1991 and provided a detailed look at the unique way Army engineers delivered key air infrastructure in war-torn West Berlin to ensure the success of the airlift.
“We had 20,000 (people) per shift and we worked 24 hours a day with lights, generator sets -- so there were 60,000 people,” Delbridge said. “We had more women than men that did all of the earth moving… and they moved the earth by hand.”
In all, records from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Office of History estimate that more than 9.8 million work hours went into the effort between military personnel and local Germans. Local Germans – mostly women according to Delbridge - accounted for the vast majority of that figure (more than 9.6 million work hours).
Delbridge said eventually they were able to incorporate small rail cars and earth movers to support operations and limited heavy equipment was also airlifted in over time.
“The Germans have these little, it looks like the mine cars, that can lay these little tracks all over everything, and that was how, essentially, they cleaned up the country after the war. They'd lay these little tracks and they'd throw the bricks in these little cars and push the cars by hand,” Delbridge said. “Well, on this site what you did was you laid the little tracks over… we’d pull together a group of people, generally mostly women -- there weren't very men left in Berlin during that time -- and they would go out there with shovels and they would shovel this sand into the little carts and push it where we said, and then dump it and go back.”
Delbridge also described using rubble from war-damaged Berlin as material for the base of the runways.
“We would find -- of course the whole city was level -- and so we tried to find as much of the bombed-out buildings that had little structural steel in it,” Delbridge said. “We would load these little two-and-a-half-ton dump trucks with this rubble from wherever we could… there was very, very little in the way of the major buildings standing, so there was lots of rubble. But you just tried to find that which was clean. And we brought it in and we laid it down on the runway, in 10 inch lifts.”
They would then use dozers going back and forth to break the material and then they would compact it and grade it. Between both airports, they brought in and used an estimated 755,000 cubic yards of brick rubble.
That initial layer was then covered with additional layers including asphalt that had to be flown in and a surface coat made from fine crushed cobblestones gathered from the cleaning up of the city followed by a “quick, fine” seal coat. Approximately 2.2 million gallons of asphalt was flown into Berlin and used for the new runways.
In the years after Berlin, Delbridge commanded several other U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offices all over the world, including operations in Turkey (now part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District’s mission) from 1960 to 1963, the Pittsburgh District from 1972 to 1975, the Europe Division (now the Europe District) from 1976 to 1978 and the Pacific Ocean Division from 1978 to 1980.
While the Berlin Airlift was near the beginning of Delbridge’s career, the man known for calling for the airlift and administrating it was wrapping up his illustrious military career at the time. Most people don’t realize though that Gen. Lucius D. Clay was a key leader with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to his World War II and post-war heroics and he credits his time with the Corps of Engineers for his later successes.
Before World War II, Clay was serving at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The 1930s was transformative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with its mission greatly expanding as a result of the Flood Control Act of 1936.
“The flood control act made the Corps of Engineers into a much broader engineering organization than it had been because it involved it for the first time in the construction of major dams and reservoirs,” Clay told historians in a 1977 interview. “Up to that time we had only constructed reservoirs and things of that type and kind as a part of a channelization approach and not as part of a flood control approach.”
As part of that growing mission, Clay was sent to Texas to oversee the construction of the Denison Dam on the Red River to supply water, hydropower and reduce flood risks near the border of Texas and Oklahoma.
Then Capt. Clay set up the now-defunct U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Denison District essentially from scratch and went to work. He said that experience helped prepare him for his later roles.
“I think this is where you really get the experience that helps the engineer officer in war,” Clay told historians, referring to being assigned to Denison to build a District and a dam. “I was sent to Denison, Texas to build Denison Dam by myself. I went out and looked at a river where there wasn’t any water. I immediately began to borrow men from other organizations, other Districts.”
He said he pulled engineers from construction of what is now known as the Conchas Dam in New Mexico where construction was winding down, personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District and other places and within a few months had an operational organization.
Together, the team he pulled together oversaw construction of what at the time would be the largest rolled-earth fill dam in the United States. Today, the dam is still operated by the U.S. Army Corps pf Engineers, Tulsa District and is generally better known as Lake Texoma, the name of the lake created by its impounded water.
To this day the dam still supplies water for millions of people living in an arid region, produces up to 100 megawatts of hydropower energy to customers of Rayburn Country and the East Texas Electric Cooperative power companies in the surrounding communities thanks to upgrades over the years and has prevented an estimated $844 million in damages through its flood risk management benefits.
Clay credits his experience both managing large-scale infrastructure projects and having to do so with limited support to begin with for his successes later in his career.
“I owe everything I have in life to the Corps of Engineers,” Clay told historians when asked if his time with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers served him well later in life.
While Delbridge was working in Berlin, the materials flown there were coming from airfields in West Germany. Much of that came from the Wiesbaden Air Base, which is still in use today and is located on what is now Lucius D. Clay Kaserne – part of the larger U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.
In fact, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District – headquartered in Wiesbaden - is currently managing the replacement of the airfield’s air traffic control tower so it can continue to support U.S. military operations going forward.
The air traffic control tower is just one of 100s of projects the Europe District is managing in Europe as well as in Israel and Africa supporting regional security.
“From the beaches of Normandy to the Berlin Airlift through the Cold War and now through the delivery of our more than $7 billion design and construction program across Europe – Army engineers have a legacy of delivering solutions when called upon in Europe,” said Europe District Commander Col. Pat Dagon. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proud of our role in that legacy and delivering for U.S. forces, allies and partners.”
Senior U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense officials joined Nigeria’s Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, represented by Air Vice Marshal Nnamdi Nwokoma Ananaba and other Nigerian partners to celebrate the completion of $38 million of improvements to the air base April 27.
The construction of the air base improvements is key to facilitating the operation and maintenance of the A-29 Super Tucano wing, and associated munitions, stationed here. The base improvements were delivered as part of a larger, historic $500 million U.S. foreign military sale to Nigeria, which also included the delivery of 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, precision munitions, and world-class training, including in air-to-ground integration to make airstrikes more accurate and thereby mitigate the risk of civilian harm.
U.S. Chargé d’Affaires for Nigeria David Greene, Director of the U.S. Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division Commander Col. John Lloyd, and other U.S. officials joined Amao and other Nigerian Air Force partners to celebrate the completion of the final phase of the construction program for A-29 Super Tucano support facilities.
“Since my arrival in Nigeria last year, I have closely tracked the progress of the A-29 program and am grateful, today, to celebrate the fruits of U.S.-Nigerian partnership and commitment,” stated Chargé d’Affaires Greene. “Nigeria’s A-29 program is the largest U.S. foreign military sales case to date to a country in Sub-Saharan Africa, an example of Nigeria’s leadership in being, as is the Nigerian Air Force’s motto, ‘willing, able, and ready’ to contribute to security and stability at home and around the region.”
The base improvements were delivered in two main phases, with the first phase completed in summer 2021 to allow for the safe delivery of the first A-29 aircraft, which now play a key role in Nigerian Air Force operations to combat violent extremist organizations, such as ISIS-West Africa and Boko Haram.
Crews are now finishing the second and final phase of air base improvement projects, which include improved base security, munitions storage and maintenance, aircraft hangars and aprons, and training facilities to ensure the continued successful operations of the new fighter wing.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, which is part of the larger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division, oversaw the construction of these projects, which are key to facilitating the operation and maintenance of the 12 A-29 Super Tucanos and their accompanying munitions.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proudly supports our international partners like Nigeria by providing unique engineering expertise to bolster security capabilities, strengthen strategic relationships, and contribute to regional security,” Lloyd said. “Here at Kainji Air Base, it has been an absolute privilege to partner with the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Air Force, and the Nigerian Air Force to deliver these support facilities for their new fleet of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.”
The U.S. Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate is managing the overall $500 million foreign military sale as part of its larger mission of administering security assistance programs around the world.
“Today is a proud occasion, not only for the country of Nigeria and the Nigerian Air Force, but also for the United States of America, the United States Air Force, and the United States Army,” said Safranek. “These new capabilities will help address the growing security challenges in the region, and counter the significant impact and threats posed to the people of Nigeria. It proves that together, as Partner Nations, and Military Allied Partners, we can accomplish great things which, in the end, make the country of Nigeria and the world a safer place.”
This is the largest U.S. foreign military sales case in sub-Saharan Africa and demonstrates the strong partnership between the United States and Nigeria. The United States is committed to assisting Nigeria in its efforts to create a more peaceful, prosperous nation.