By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erika L. Kugler
As a key milestone toward full operational capability, Sailors assigned to Naval Support Facility (NSF) Redzikowo completed crew move aboard, Jan. 20, 2022.
Strategically located at the crossroads of East and West Europe, lies NSF Redzikowo, Poland, the Navy’s newest base. This month, the base crosses a major waypoint in their mission to support Aegis Ashore missile defense system, which stands as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to provide layered collective defense against missile threats.
This past month, the base officially met all the requirements needed to make the base inhabitable. On January 3, 2022, they signaled to all Sailors assigned to NSF Redzikowo to “move aboard”. This means all Sailors assigned to the base, from the youngest, newest Sailors, to the most senior officers, moved from off-base housing in the local community into the Multipurpose Facility (MPF), which will provide room, board and amenities to the service members.
“In the MPF we have a gym, barracks, galley and MWR recreation center,” said Capt. Michael Smith, commanding officer of NSF Redzikowo. “We have to get the base Sailors situated first and then Aegis Ashore will come in, activate the site and continue with their mission.”
The building itself is a two-level structure standing against backdrop of the Polish winter. As Sailors walk in from the cold, they can see the barbershop, gym, and Navy Exchange. Down the hall, they can smell the galley in full swing, serving four meals in a 24-hour period. If someone is not feeling well, they can make a quick stop by medical and then upstairs to their barracks room. The rooms house up to four Sailors and come equipped with dorm-style accommodations such as a microwave and refrigerator.
“I like it so much, I’m living here,” said Smith. “Poland is a wonderful place; having the team here together builds our cohesiveness, force protection and the ability to improve our Sailors lives.”
The base Sailors and services provide force protection and infrastructure to support the Aegis Ashore mission. Overseas bases form the foundation of our forward-deployed force employment capability. A solid infrastructure ensures that Sailors can continuously support a 24/7 mission, and maintain undeterred vigilance against any threat.
“Aegis Ashore missile defense system is like a shield for defense of ballistic missiles within the range of Europe,” said Lt. Cmdr. Travis Avant, executive officer of Aegis Ashore. “We are really excited to have this milestone so that we can continue to work towards full operational capability in the coming years.”
Beginning in 2011, the United States EPAA deployed more sea and land-based ballistic missile defense capabilities. This plan, which integrates the missile defense systems of forward deployed U.S. Navy destroyers in Rota, Spain with the Aegis capabilities in NSF Deveselu, Romania will incorporate Redzikowo, once fully operational, to provide ballistic missile defense to U.S., allied, and coalition partner forces in Europe.
“To the local community, the entire Alliance and any malign actors, the base serves as a continual tangible representation of NATO’s commitment to our collective defense,” said Smith.
This waypoint comes from the many small victories and hard work and dedication across multiple agencies. Previously a German Air Force base, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers transitioned the installation and all of its buildings to fit modern habitation and working requirements, before turning it over to the Navy.
“It’s a big milestone for the base,” said Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Huber, acting Redzikowo executive officer and the public works officer. “There are a lot of public work actions that go into it and we are very busy making sure those actions behind the scene go smoothly.”
The public works department has been in charge of taking care of the facilities and completing technical inspections in order to make the base inhabitable. Public works also manages the contracting for the galley operations, maintenance for the buildings, and custodial services for the base.
“We have had a lot of people come in,” said Smith. “They’ve built it, we’ve checked it out, we’ve stocked it, we’ve outfitted the barracks, we’ve tested all the lights and safety equipment, it’s just an amazing amount of work that got done by the Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Navy, public works, the fire department, everyone came together to make that building happen.”
As the Sailors finished moving onboard, they embarked on the next part of their journey, supporting missile defense and deterrence.
“It is an important pre-scheduled milestone, and we have achieved it,” said Smith. “Now, we continue construction on Aegis Ashore.”
Navy Region EURAFCENT oversees nine installations in seven countries, enabling U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed in order to ensure security and stability in the European, African, and Central Command areas of responsibility.