Europe District delivers first MILCON EDI project in Estonia

USACE Europe District
Published Nov. 6, 2018
Four men stand on a hot cargo pad.

Europe District employees discuss the features of the hazardous cargo pad, Oct. 11 at Ämari Air Base, Estonia. The cargo pad is large enough to accommodate a C-5 and was completed in August 2018.

Two men stand, shaking hands and holding a plaque with a gold key.

Lt. Col. John Bacon, Europe District deputy commander, presents the ceremonial key to Lt. Col. Ular Lõhmus, Ämari Air Base commander, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Estonia Oct. 11.

Four men stand in front of a building and cut a ribbon.

Lt. Col. Ular Lõhmus, Ämari Air Base commander, Brig. Gen. Roy Agustin, director HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA A4, Jüri Luik, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Estonia, and Col. Riivo Valge, chief of staff acting commander Estonian Air Force, cut the ribbon to celebrate the completion of Ämari Air Base improvement projects Oct. 11.

Following Russia’s illegal invasion into Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. authorized European Deterrence Initiative (formerly known as European Reassurance Initiative) at $985 million in 2015, $789 million in 2016, and $3.4 billion in 2017. The 2018 EDI budget request is $4.8 billion, $1.4 billion more than 2017. If approved, the FY 2019 request includes a significant funding increase to $6.5 billion and continues to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to the territorial integrity of all NATO nations.

“This year's budget builds on previous EDI investments that enhance our deterrence posture and improve the readiness and responsiveness of forces in Europe,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander, USEUCOM. “As we continue to address the dynamic security environment in Europe, EDI funding increases our capabilities to deter and defend against Russian aggression. Additionally, these significant investments will further galvanize U.S. support to the collective defense of our NATO allies, as well as bolster the security and capacity of our U.S. partners.”

This is where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District comes in. The district delivers infrastructure, engineering, real estate and general services to support U.S. national security interests in the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) areas of responsibility. 

One major new focus area in the 2018 EDI budget request is to begin prepositioning Air Force equipment and airfield infrastructure improvements to support current ops, exercises and activities as well as enable a rapid response to contingencies.

A ribbon-cutting event held at Ämari Air Base just west of Tallinn, Estonia is just one example of Europe District partnering with the U.S. Air Force. Leaders cut the ribbon to celebrate the completion of three projects: hazardous cargo pad, aircraft maintenance hangar and squadron operations facility.

“I’m really proud of the partnerships we had, both with the Air Force and the host nation because this was a first for us. This was the first MILCON (military construction) project Europe District built in Estonia,” said Col. John Baker, commander, Europe District. “The Estonian government has been extremely helpful and welcoming. I’m very proud that these projects have really accomplished the mission in terms of reassuring an ally and deterring aggression.”

The Europe District supports the forward basing and posture of U.S. and NATO military forces by providing additional infrastructure at host-nation military bases across Europe. 

“The majority of these projects are funded through the U.S. European Defense Initiative, by which the U.S. Congress has appropriated funds every year since 2015 in order to deter Russian aggression, assure Allies, and build the capacity of our partners,” said Baker. “Projects are also funded through the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP), which provides for increased NATO capability to keep Europe free, whole, and at peace.”

EDI funding facilitates EUCOM’s capability as a war-fighting command that is ready with assets, equipment and experience to address regional aggression that has shaped the current European security environment.

“These projects have been successful in terms of the costs, schedules, quality and safety. We take our responsibilities very serious and we address these projects as a team,” said Baker.

Some other service specific EDI-funded requests include: exercise participation and support, mission support, improvements to infrastructure, prepositioning equipment, and air and missile defense enhancements.

“This base is truly an example of allied efforts that constructed in close cooperation between the host nation and NATO,” said Jüri Luik, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Estonia during the ribbon- cutting event. “I’m very, very glad to welcome our American partners whose support enabled this rapid improvement. I can assure you that every dollar of the American taxpayer is money well spent. I want to thank you on behalf of the Estonian people for your support.”