Future Pirmasens storage facility to support growing NATO requirements, provide economic benefits to local communities

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kenya Pettway
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Due to growing NATO requirements, the former Husterhöhe barracks located in Pirmasens, Germany, is being converted into a strategic warehouse late 2023 by the U.S. Air Force, which will store Deployable Airbase System - Facilities, Equipment, and Vehicles (DABS/FEV), or portable bases.

Ramstein Air Base leadership recently hosted several German dignitaries during a tour of the facility to provide a comprehensive overview of its strategic value to the U.S. Air Force and overall global security, as well as its economic benefits to the local communities.

German dignitaries who attended the tour included Markus Zwick, Lord Mayor of the City of Pirmasens; Dr. Susanne Ganster, County Commissioner of Südwestpfalz County; Hartmut Kling, representing Mr. Steven Wink, state parliamentarian for the Pirmasens district; Jochen Werle, representing Mr. Alexander Fuhr, state parliamentarian for the Pirmasens district; Michael Maas, Mayor of the City of Pirmasens; Claus Schäffer, Mayor of the City of Rodalben; and Dr. Jörg Zorbach, Deputy Director of the Department for  Armed Forces, and US Stabilization Program at the RLP Ministry of the Interior.

The facility will hold significant amounts of cargo including vehicles, medical supplies and communication systems, one airframe package and more, ultimately enabling the U.S. Air Force to rapidly and effectively establish expeditionary air bases in austere locations — a vital capability in an evolving European security environment.

“Our ultimate, strategic goal is to be an agile and flexible force, and remain fully mission capable in austere locations,” said Brig. Gen. Otis C. Jones, 86th Airlift Wing commander. “Removing the need to transport critical infrastructure from the continental United States into the European theater allows us to provide support faster to our NATO allies and respond to our adversaries in a timely manner. It also removes the burden from host nations to supply us with what we need during a crisis.”

As a result of its strategic importance in the European theater, the U.S. Air Force has invested millions of dollars into upgrading the facility.

“We have invested $35 million (approximately €32,297,443.34) in the last three years and are projected to invest another $6.5 million this year,” said Lt Col Alison Freiman, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “Additionally, in the next five to ten years, we are planning a $164 million construction project to purpose build facilities for the proper maintenance and storage of this equipment. As with anything planned for future fiscal years, funding is not guaranteed, but this project has strong backing.”

The Pirmasens facility is also expected to yield economic benefits for the local community through various jobs required to maintain and secure the facility.

“As we continue to plan and assess operational requirements, we will continue to work with local agencies to offer employment opportunities to German civilians in the surrounding communities,” Jones said.

“We are working with employment agencies to recruit local help to maintain the facility,” added Rick Belcher, U.S. Air Forces in Europe contractor liaison. “Our plan is to hire a recruiter as an official member of the staff to assist in our efforts to employ locally as much as possible.”

Markus Zwick, Lord Mayor of the City of Pirmasens, was particularly grateful for Ramstein Air Base leadership’s efforts in fostering open and transparent dialogue on the development of the facility during the tour.

“We are very thankful that the U.S. Air Force is being transparent and proactive in providing information on this upcoming facility to help the local community further understand the ‘why’,” said Markus Zwick, Lord Mayor of the City of Pirmasens. “The shoulder-to shoulder stance between the American and German people here in the region is important to sustain our longstanding partnership and ensure the future facility is a mutually beneficial project for the U.S. military and citizens of Pirmasens.”

The continued cooperation between the U.S. and Germany, and enduring hospitality of the local communities are crucial not only for the development of this facility, but also for global security years to come.

“The success of our no-fail mission requires a team effort,” Jones said. “With Germany’s support in the development of the facility, we will be able to provide support to our NATO allies when called upon — anytime, anywhere.” 

The facility is currently under construction and is in the process of being transferred from U.S. Army to U.S. Air Force control. Employment opportunities will be announced once development of the facility is complete, and personnel requirements are finalized.