Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, commanding general of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 54th chief of Engineers, and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Houston, USACE command sergeant major, visited Europe District headquarters and several project sites during a four-day visit Nov. 27-30.

The general's overarching message to the team: "I couldn't be more proud of the work you're doing."

The visit started with a briefing by Col. John Baker, district commander, and senior program managers at the district headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, and before moving to Wiesbaden project sites, the general presented coins to recognize employees for their contributions in accomplishing the mission.

One of those recognized was Claus Dey, who has worked for the district for more than 33 years and retired Nov. 30. Dey explained his longevity here because working with the district is like working with family.

While in Wiesbaden, Semonite and Houston toured the completed Wiesbaden High School, the Department of Defense Education Activity's first 21st-century high school worldwide. Dr. Sandra Whitaker, principal, talked about how the students and teachers are using the facility.

For example in one neighborhood, she said teachers have embraced the collaborative nature of the open staff space and didn't want to use the cubicle partitions.

As the group toured the middle school construction, Sibylle Ballnath, project manager for the three Wiesbaden schools, talked about how necessary communication is for successful project completion.

"It's important to resolve issues as they come up when working with the construction contractor, the bauamt and those in the field," she said.

Europe District manages the design and construction of more than 30 schools and facilities in current and future years valued at more than $1 billion throughout Germany and Belgium. These military construction projects carried out by the district and its partners enhance the educational environment for more than 14,000 students across Europe. These students represent the future of our nation, Baker said, which highlights the district's commitment to building DoDEA's 21st-century educational facilities.

Other project sites that were on the agenda included Powidz, Poland, and Stuttgart, Germany.

In Poland, area engineer Augie Carrillo briefed the district's mission to repair or upgrade maintenance facilities for Army Prepositioned Stocks in Europe. According to a U.S. Army Europe fact sheet, APS supports military strategy by strategically prepositioning critical war stocks to reduce response times of the modular expeditionary Army.

According to a recent STAND-TO!, "Stationing equipment to meet Europe's unique requirements saves time for units responding to potential crises. The Army Prepositioned Stock facilitates Army Europe's ability to rapidly respond to potential contingencies and deter Russian aggression."

In Stuttgart, the briefings included the district's support of U.S. European Command's 51-country area of responsibility, of U.S. Africa Command's 53-country area of responsibility and a leadership development program of the lessons learned from the hurricane season.

After briefing the general and command sergeant major on Europe District's mission, Baker said, "I wanted him to understand the operational environment of the U.S. military that is driving the projects, I wanted him to have confidence in the people and processes we have in Europe District, and I want him to be able to be an advocate for the district."