Reinforcing Europe.

Author:Aldridge, Jennifer

The sounds of drills, saws and compactors are almost as common as live-fire artillery at Tapa Military Base, Estonia. While Estonian soldiers exercise in one corner of the base, construction workers pour concrete in another. Dump trucks and bulldozers rival the number of tanks and combat vehicles here.

Twenty-two European Reassurance Initiative infrastructure and construction projects managed by US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District at Tapa are nearly complete and will support an influx of US and NATO forces as heel-to-toe rotations begin in early 2017.

The projects are a subset of a $500 million ERI Program the district oversees for US Army and Air Force military construction, and facilities, sustainment, restoration and modernization in Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, with future work planned in Hungary, Luxembourg, Norway and Slovakia. Europe District has approximately 260 projects in design or construction to make improvements to airfields, military quarters, operations centers, training ranges and support facilities throughout Europe.

These facilities will enable 9-month rotations of US forces in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, said. Lt. Col. James Lockridge, the chief of construction for Army Europe's Engineer Division.

"They help lessen the burden on our host nations, while allowing US forces to maintain readiness and provide necessary life support to maintain equipment and conduct training with our allied partners," he said.

In Estonia, the projects are right on track, especially a much-needed railhead upgrade project. The majority of US Army vehicles and equipment are shipped into Estonia via rail, said Chris Bailey, a Europe District ERI project engineer.

"Prior to this railhead project, the Estonians only had one railhead created during Soviet times, and it was outside of the military area," he said. "The new railhead will be located within Tapa--an area controlled by Estonian forces--and separated from the commercial railhead."

Another project Bailey manages is a marshaling area, which is being constructed next to the new railhead. "The existing railhead doesn't have a staging area, so this project will help expedite the...

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