RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany—Headquarters USAFE-AFAFRICA 5/8/9 recently hosted a delegation of Polish infrastructure planners who traveled to Ramstein to bolster U.S. basing efforts in Poland. The two-day orientation provided key insights into U.S. operations and capabilities at one of the United States' most important logistical and contingency support hubs in the European theater. The Polish planners took that knowledge home where efforts are already underway to develop what some might call a “Ramstein East” capability in Poland.
“These visits allow for opportunities to share organizational best practices,” said U.S. Navy Captain Constance Solina, Division Chief of Engineering and Environmental (ECJ44) at U.S. European Command. “They foster open and transparent dialogue to help understand U.S. methods and processes for logistics support and maintenance of critical infrastructure and War Reserve Materiel (WRM).”
The Polish delegation’s site visit to Ramstein is part of an extensive bilateral effort between the U.S. Government and the Republic of Poland to increase U.S. troop presence in Poland, which was formalized in 2020 under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The agreement provides the legal means to support U.S. forces operating in Poland and defines 113 construction projects to build future infrastructure that could potentially accommodate up to 20,000 U.S. troops in Poland.
Those numbers come into focus at a time when all eyes in Europe are looking eastward. Civilian and military leaders across the continent face increased pressure from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, underscoring the importance of defensive posturing through strategic planning along Europe’s Eastern Flank.
The EDCA further supplements deterrence measures already in place under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deepens ongoing security cooperation efforts to the mutual benefit of both the United States and Poland. The two programs that enable implementation of the EDCA are known as Poland Provided Infrastructure (PPI) and Poland Provided Logistical Support (PPLS). Each program functions to provide facilities or other support to U.S. troops operating in Poland. CAPT Solina stated that these programs “demonstrate the U.S. and Polish commitment to the NATO alliance and Euro-Atlantic security by prioritizing, resourcing, and modernizing necessary security infrastructure to bolster NATO’s defensive capabilities. They increase the capability for U.S. forces to rapidly project power should the need to deter emerging threats arise. The entire NATO alliance benefits when nations work together to better integrate resources and activities.”
One of the Air Force’s major projects in Poland is an Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) in Wrocław that will facilitate movement of U.S. troops and cargo in and out of Poland. The 721st Aerial Port Squadron at Ramstein demonstrated how the Global Gateway moves passengers and massive amounts of cargo, including everything from household goods to medical supplies and hazardous materials. The terminal in Poland is planned on a smaller scale than what exists in Germany, but the strategic capability it adds for the U.S. is significant. Currently, troops and cargo movements typically pass through Ramstein to transit the European theater, but the new APOD would allow U.S. Army and Air Force movements to deploy directly to Poland. As the primary AMC hub for air mobility missions in Europe and Southwest Asia, Ramstein’s APOD is the ideal location to showcase how the U.S. projects power across the globe.
The Polish team also toured facilities at the 435th Contingency Response Group, the Operations Support Squadron, and the 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron. Each unit showcased their operational capabilities and highlighted how their respective facilities enable them to perform the mission.
“CRG Airmen take great pride in being rapidly deployable and self-sustaining to meet COMAFFOR’s priorities across the continent,” said Colonel Robert P. Rayner, Commander of the 435th Contingency Response Group. “These two programs [PPI and PPLS], coupled with our great relationship with the Polish military, greatly increase our ability to do both. Ultimately, greater infrastructure and greater logistical support means faster aid (lethal and non-lethal) to our European allies and partners.”
Another major project in Poland for the Air Force is a Deployable Air Base System-Facilities, Equipment, and Vehicle (DABS-FEV) support facility. The DABS-FEV facility broke ground on Nov. 7, 2022.
“Poland's commitment to U.S. forces in Poland is further demonstrated by Poland's award and now ground-breaking of the DABS/FEV project in Powidz,” said RADM R. Duke Heinz, Director of Logistics, J4, U.S. European Command. “This project will enhance NATO and U.S. capabilities for expeditionary air bases as part of NATO's Reinforcement and Sustainment Network.”
In addition to building an APOD at Wrocław and the DABS-FEV Facility in Powidz, the Air Force also has plans to bed down Remotely Piloted Aircraft in Mirosławiec and eventually two alternate APOD locations in Poland. The continued cooperation and deepening partnership between the U.S. and Poland are poised to yield enormous security benefits for both nations in the years to come and for the next generation.