NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY DEVESELU, Romania (May 12, 2015) -- A U.S. Navy base, under construction in Romania, is using U.S. Soldiers to ensure that the second phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, or EPAA, to ballistic missile defense of U.S. and allied interests becomes operational on time.
President Barack Obama has mandated that the Aegis Ashore capability, in the NATO partner nation of Romania, be operational by the end of 2015.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, 249th Engineer Battalion, deployed a team and equipment to Romania on less than a week's notice in early April. They provided an instant solution to a knotty schedule problem at Naval Support Facility, or NSF, Deveselu, the first Aegis Ashore base under construction in central Romania.
The 249th's four generators, together with their switching gear, make up a 3.2-megawatt power plant solution to support continued progress on EPAA phase II. This "Prime Power" equipment can be deployed anywhere in the world that diesel fuel can be supplied. That was crucial for NSF Deveselu, where the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, or MDA, is building the first operational Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense system.
"They were able to provide the right power for the testing of the Aegis Weapons System," said Capt. William Garren, commanding officer of NSF Deveselu. "If they hadn't come, it would have cost 44 days, from the schedule, to get the system checked out and operational."
A necessary design change meant a potential six-week delay in testing and bringing the system online, as generators were taken offline and moved to their permanent locations. Fortunately, the USACE Europe District, which oversees all military construction in the region, happened to be more than familiar with U.S. military's portable power capabilities.
Col. Matthew Tyler, who is also the district engineer, is a former commander of the 249th, and a former commandant of the Prime Power School, which also trains Navy Mobile Utilities Support Equipment Seabees.
"While MUSE was considered first for the mission, their new equipment was not certified for air transport, which meant the Army could respond more quickly," he said.
"It's a strategically important project, and it warrants a greater amount of attention to ensure we can meet the presidential mandate," Tyler said.
The successful deployment and installation of the generators took less than three weeks, from first notification of the unit, that they would deploy. The Soldiers will remain in Romania to operate the equipment until permanently installed replacements are fully operational this fall.
The solution was the result of a much longer planning and coordination process involving the Navy base and tenant command, USACE, the Missile Defense Agency, or MDA, and multiple contractors.
"I think it's very reflective of the teamwork that's come about here," said Harry Spear, MDA facilities management division chief. "Collectively, everyone is working together to ensure the project goes forward."
The 249th's Charlie Company, co-located at the battalion's home on its Fort Belvoir, Virginia, headquarters, always has a platoon prepared to deploy on short notice. But the Romania mission was a bit more abrupt than typical, said Sgt. Zackery Slater, from Warrenton, Virginia.
"In my short two years with the unit, this is the first time I've seen the trigger pulled this fast," said Slater, whose military operational specialty is 12P, or "Prime Power."
"'Hey, you're leaving next week' isn't that unusual, but 'hey, you're leaving next week for six months' is not something we normally see,'" Slater said.