POZNAN, Poland -- When Area Engineer Augie Carrillo first came to the Polish military base here several years ago with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District there wasn’t a lot of modern infrastructure in place.
“When I first arrived in Poznan in 2017, the base and its facilities were fairly dated, some not being used or updated since the 1980s, and the base’s future was uncertain,” Carrillo said. “Between USACE work and the improvements managed by the Poles, the base has really turned around and is becoming very nice.”
In that time, he’s overseen the standing up of Europe District’s Northern Europe Area Office in Poznan, which has been the focal point for the Corps of Engineers’ more than $350 million construction mission in Poznan and many other sites throughout Poland. These projects are already benefiting both U.S. forces stationed in Poland on a rotational basis as well as the Polish hosts operating the bases.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction mission in Poland is strategically important as it directly supports our forces rotating through Poland as well as our Polish partners and NATO,” said Europe District Commander Col. Pat Dagon. “We’re proud to be building these facilities that are a key part of reassuring our allies in the region and strengthening NATO partnerships.”
In Poznan, construction has been largely been driven by the recent locating of the forward element of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps, or V Corps, at the local base. This means the base will regularly be home to U.S. troops deployed on a rotational basis.
“Initially our work is focused on ensuring Soldiers can live, work and train so we work to give them the warfighting facilities they need as they rotate through,” Carrillo said. “They needed barracks, they needed office space, so those were some of the first things we did on Poznan. They needed real logistical support for where they live, where they work and then also where they train – which is why we’ve been doing a lot of work at different training areas as well.”
The footprint of the base in Poznan is fairly small, meaning much of the work has been renovations of existing, older facilities. This has included key improvements like renovating existing facilities to provide modern barracks to improve quality of life for deployed V Corps Soldiers, a vehicle maintenance facility to ensure readiness and administrative space for operations. At the same time, the Polish Army has been overseeing significant renovations as well, including updating the gym and additional administrative space. They have also been managing several exterior renovations, while the Europe District team then oversees interior renovations to ensure they align with the requirements of U.S. users of the buildings.
The Northern Europe Area Office was set up not only because of the growing mission in Poznan, but to support what was a growing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction mission at various sites in Poland and elsewhere in the region.
Over the past several years, Carrillo and his team have overseen dozens of renovation and construction efforts at Polish military sites throughout the country. That includes projects here in Poznan as well as in Powidz, in Lask and at multiple Polish training areas that regularly host major international exercises and more.
By far the biggest undertaking of the Northern Europe Area Office team in Poland is overseeing construction of the Army Prepositioned Stock, or APS, site being built in Powidz. Once complete, this project will include roughly 650,000 square feet of humidity-controlled warehouse space, vehicle maintenance facilities and additional supporting facilities and infrastructure to allow for the storage, maintenance and movement of stores of military vehicles and equipment to deter or respond to aggression.
The project is primarily funded by NATO, and will be operated by the U.S. Army’s 405th Army Field Support Brigade in close partnership with local Polish forces when the first main element is finished later this year. It will ultimately serve as a key logistics hub supporting readiness and operations throughout the alliance’s Eastern Flank.
At Poland’s Lask Air Base, U.S. Air Force personnel regularly partner with Polish allies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has overseen design and construction of various new facilities. These include projects like runway improvements, administrative facilities, and more to come to support those collaborative efforts.
Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team works closely with Polish partners and 7th Army Training Command on improvements to Polish training areas, with the bulk of the work being at the Zagan Training Area and the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area.
These improvements range from improved river crossings to classrooms to facilities to support storage, maintenance, and more that benefit U.S., Polish and other partner forces that use the sites for regular training and international exercises.
“We’re doing everything from ground improvements to vehicle maintenance facilities to range towers and anything that can facilitate training at these ranges,” said Europe District Project Engineer Israel Miller who supports many of the training range projects. “We’re laying the foundations so that our Soldiers and our partners and allies can train together and work in unison together.”
The mission in Poland is continuing to grow, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers poised to collaborate with the Polish government on even more military construction efforts in the coming years.
Between that and the Northern Europe Area Office also supporting important construction in Baltic countries including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and preparing for growing missions in other nearby countries - that means that the Northern Europe Area Office team expects to remain busy for years to come and will continue looking for top talent in construction management.
“It’s a unique, dynamic environment here in Eastern Europe and the work is very rewarding,” Carrillo said. “The Corps of Engineers is an expeditionary organization at its heart and our projects here are at the ‘tip of the spear’ as they say and they contribute greatly to the warfighter and to supporting our allies. I’d strongly recommend people looking for something unique that’s also both professionally and personally rewarding consider supporting our growing mission in Poland and in the region.”