(Note: the project in Powidz has been in planning since at least 2017 and it has been endorsed by NATO. It is not directly tied to any of the recently reported plans to move parts of US Forces from Germany to Poland and/or other NATO Member States as well as CONUS)
The information that we have obtained from the US Army Europe suggests that equipment for an armoured brigade would be deployed in Powidz. The primary equipment is to include:
- around 85 M1A2 Abrams MBTs;
- around 130 M2/M3 Bradley platforms;
- 18 M109A6/A7 Paladin Sphs, belonging to the self-propelled artillery squadron. Equipment that would be used by support units would be deployed to Powidz as well.
The US Army Europe public affairs reps emphasized that the primary contract concerning the construction works in Powidz was signed on 14th November 2019, with a German-Polish consortium. The implementation of the agreement valued at the level of USD 183 million (EUR 166 million, ca. 750 million Polish zlotys), would make it possible to create jobs in the host country, Poland. The investment is financed with the use of NATO funding (NSIP programme - eds.). According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, this project is the largest single infrastructure project NATO has funded in 30 years.
The NATO funds have been divided into three parts, covering the specific areas of work. The first one - tree cutting - has already been executed. Site clearance has been going on since the year 2019. It is now 80% complete.
Construction works are defined as stage 3. The decision on allocation of funds for the construction works has been made recently (in April). The process is scheduled to begin in the summer and it is expected that it would last until the summer of 2022.
US Army Europe has not identified any pandemic-related problems, everything is progressing in line with the original plan.
What infrastructure is expected to be established in Powidz?
According to US Army Europe, the Powidz base is to include, among other facilities:
- An 8,600 square meter workshop with 20 repair bays capable to support M1A2 tanks and two 30-ton overhead cranes capable of depot-level repairs including all administrative space for equipment accountability and issuance.
- 5 humidity-controlled warehouses with combined area of 60,000 square meters
- 2 garages for light repair with total area of 1,650 square meters
The information that had been released before also mentions the following facilities:
- Vehicle-washing and brake testing station facility, with an area of 1,350 square meters;
- Administrative facility;
- Operational storage facility, 5,570 square meters;
- Vehicle Assembly Point Pavement, 22,550 square meters;
- Safety and information systems - CCTV, audio/video systems, operator’s console;
- Oil, fuels and lubricants and dangerous goods storage facility;
- Self-propelled crane.
APS System: Meaning
Establishment of a strategic system of storage facilities in the potential areas of operations makes it possible, should crisis circumstances emerge, to deploy troops alone, without the equipment, to the troubled region of choice. This, essentially, shortens the time and cost of reaction and deployment. The deployments may be carried out without using the heavy airlift capability. Chartered airliners (or military aircraft carrying passengers alone) could be employed instead.
The decision on the establishment of APS (Army Prepositioned Stock) in Europe has been made in 2016. The equipment also started to be stored at the relevant storage facilities in 2016. Earlier on it had been assumed that scattered and limited European Activity Set would be used for deployment purposes. The main objective adopted here was to organize exercises. Initially, the equipment was being stored at the existing facilities in Belgium, Germany, or the Netherlands. However, the narrative suggesting that an equipment base for an American armored brigade in Poland, in Powidz, has become visible since 2017. Whereas this required, for obvious reasons, much higher investment than in Western Europe.
The investment approved in 2019 by Jens Stoltenberg and discussed here is a good example of cooperation between the US and other NATO member states. On one hand, the APS would be financed with the use of allied funding. On the other, the Americans would deliver modernized assets that are to be stored in Powidz. Should a threat emerge in the region, soldiers could be sent to Powidz to man the equipment rapidly.
The following assets have already been deployed to Europe, within the Army Prepositioned Stock system:
- Equipment for a single armoured brigade (set that is analogous or close to the one that would be stored at the Polish APS)
- Division command equipment
- Equipment for Artillery Brigade elements (M109, M270 MLRS, M142 HIMARS)
- Equipment for at least single VSHORAD battalion (Avenger)
- Equipment for support, logistics, engineering elements, and so on.
The stored equipment, including the APS in Powidz, will offer an option of forming an armored division. Establishing a facility as such is a major reinforcement of defence capabilities in Central-Eastern Europe, as it would be possible to deploy another brigade in the area, that would be placed along the element based here on a rotational basis. No necessity would emerge to deploy equipment from Germany, not to mention a Trans-Atlantic deployment.
Support and Commitment
The Poles would probably be obliged to ensure the security of those facilities and to properly prepare them to host the troops. This means that Poland would be tasked with assigning security personnel to the base. In a situation in which direct threat is present, the local forces would probably also be obliged to protect the APS from enemy aircraft. However, some of the aforesaid capabilities could be provided by the allied units. So far US Army Europe has no information on the potential plans assuming that extra American air defence assets would be deployed to Powidz.
Regular exercises related to deployment of US Forces to Poland would also play a key meaning here, so that they could rapidly, a few days from the decision to activate the APS, man the equipment and get ready for operations. The completion of the construction works would be an important step in the process of reinforcing the US and NATO presence in Europe. However, keeping the whole APS (Army Prepositioned Stock) ready would be a necessity, over the upcoming years.
Maciej Szopa, Jakub Palowski