EYGELSHOVEN, Netherlands - U.S. and Dutch military and diplomatic leaders cut a ribbon to officially open the Army Prepositioned Stocks site in the Netherlands Dec. 15, which will store and service about 1,600 U.S. Army vehicles.

Located at the Eygelshoven Army Depot-BENELUX, the 500,000 square foot storage space is part of the European Reassurance Initiative and will house a brigade's worth of equipment, including M1 Abrams Tanks, M109 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers and other armored and support vehicles.

"It's a multifunctional set of equipment," said Col. Rod Honeycutt, commander, 405th Army Field Support Brigade, Army Materiel Command, whose unit manages the site.
Dutch and U.S. leaders said the facility, is an indication of the important partnership between NATO countries.

"We want to make sure that we are taking proportionate and measured steps to defend our alliance when needed," said Dutch Gen. Tom Middendorp, Chief Defense Staff, Royal Netherlands Army. "We want to make sure we are sending a clear signal to Russia that we will not accept any violation of NATO's territorial integrity...We want to send a message of reassurance and serious commitment to all NATO members."

In stocking the warehouses, the Army used many of the vehicles that were part of the European Activity Set to train U.S. Forces in Europe and to reassure allies of U.S. commitment; most recently Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division who trained across Europe earlier this year. The movement of the vehicles to this new site is part of the switch from EAS to the APS program, in which critical war stocks are prepositioned and maintained so the U.S. and its allies can rapidly respond to any potential threat within Europe and NATO.

"We are signaling our commitment and demonstrating the ability to prepare," said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe. "That is what Eygelshoven represents. This is the manifestation of 28 nations committed to the security of each other."

The APS facility includes six buildings, which will each house a battalion set of equipment. The buildings were used by the U.S. until 2006 when they were handed over to the Dutch. The buildings and the railhead have been updated to meet the needs of the new mission. 300 employees at the facility, including Dutch Ministry of Defense personnel, local contractors and Department of the Army Civilians, will be trained in railhead operations and will be able to move the equipment out to any crisis area in Europe with little notice.

"It will assist in the speed of assembly," Honeycutt said. "When the supported unit comes in to sign for it...We break it out in the way that they are used to it at their home station. So, it's the same set of equipment that they would have in the U.S.

"In our concept, the unit that draws this will never come here," he added. "We will move it to where they are going to at a forward site. I think it takes a piece out of the puzzle and facilitates the speed of assembly."

Three more APS sites are scheduled to open in Europe through 2017, allowing more freedom of movement for the U.S. and its allies.