Team of eight supports large European exercise

USACE Europe District
Published March 14, 2018

A man crouches on the ground and inspects a manhole cover.
SLIDESHOW | 5 images | FEST-A James Green, cartographer with the 71st Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance, performs a communications vault inspection on Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland.


WIESBADEN, GERMANY – When the U.S. Army Europe deployed in August 2017 for Resolute Castle, a large annual training exercise, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance deployed for six months as well.

USAREUR determined the projects it needed for the upcoming exercise then called on the engineers to begin the design phase.

“We completed 35 different design projects based on USAREUR’s needs during Resolute Castle exercise, an annual field training exercise where they bring in reserve and National Guard engineers from stateside, and they do various construction projects throughout Eastern Europe,” said Maj. Terrence Harrington, commander, 71st Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance. “It’s all part of the readiness exercise.”
The team is just one of eight active duty FEST-A teams who rotate in and out of theater on average every three years.

“It all depends on what is going on (in) the world,” Harrington said.

As part of a rotation, the unit relieved the 553rd FEST-A out of New York, and a team from Savannah, Georgia, 542nd FEST-A, is on the ground now.

Teams are here to help USAREUR accomplish its mission. The designs make it all the way through construction and in most cases the team doesn’t get to see that happen, until now.

“One project, as we were putting the design together, the unit was actually constructing it. We worked with the unit the entire time, so if they had questions we went back and answered them,” Harrington said.

Most times construction begins after the team leaves theater.

“It was kind of neat that we got to run through the entire process. If there were any construction [requests for information], they got routed right back to us, and we were able to answer questions on the construction issues. We were able to solve problems but stay within the design plan,” said Wayne Chmielewski, civil (structural) engineer.

Chmielewski, who’s been to Afghanistan and Germany for four tours total, said he loves the experience.

“It’s a much faster-paced environment, much more responsibility and you play a larger role in the projects when you’re deployed,” he said. “You generally have to make due with less, which leads to some expanded opportunities.”

Ninety-nine percent of the designs this deployment were new-builds, to include a 350-meter moving armored target, tank turning pads, multipurpose facilities, overhead covers, and power distribution plans for the various ranges to mention just a few.

“I don’t really have a favorite project on this deployment; they’ve all been pretty good. We got to mix around a little [on several different projects] and deal with several challenges,” Chmielewski said. “There were a few other projects where we got to deal with the garrisons. They’re all interesting and they all have their challenges.”

A helicopter pad in Powidz, Poland, was unique and had the fastest turnaround for the team. This was because of a well-balanced team, which is very important especially on a small team, according to Harrington.

The overall purpose of the teams is to assist the U.S. and coalition forces in getting facilities up to U.S. standards in order for troops to train.

“Everyone has a role, and we need everyone to do their part to support the team,” said Harrington.