A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Thursday 19 October 2023 to inaugurate the expansion project of the Warehouses Service Agency (WSA) complex in Sanem.
The WSA is currently the United States Air Forces in Europe's (USAFE) largest depot on the continent. Its origins date to the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Luxembourg and the United States in 1978. Since 1994, the main purpose of the Sanem site has been to store US Air Force equipment.
Thursday's ceremony marked the groundbreaking of the Deployable Air Base System support and storage facilities project, which represents an investment of $100 million (€95 million) by the US Government via the European Deterrence Initiative. This expansion project will add more than 18,500 m2 of additional facility space to the WSA.
In his remarks, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, François Bausch, noted that "Luxembourg and the US share a long history of bilateral cooperation. With this new project, we keep the momentum alive." He added that the project "reflects the commitment of [Luxembourg and the US] to enduring peace and stability on the European continent." He reflected on how "authorities from the US, Luxembourg and the management of WSA have been working together over the last couple of years to make this extension project happen."
The US Ambassador to Luxembourg, Thomas "Tom" Barrett, agreed that this was a "significant milestone" for Luxembourg and the United States. He noted that beyond support and storage facilities, the project was about strengthening NATO's deterrence and defence, which is particularly important in today's "rapidly evolving security context" - he mentioned in particular Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The US Ambassador described this $100 million investment as "another demonstration of the US commitment to European defence and to the NATO Alliance." He thanked Minister Bausch and his team, as well as all those involved in the project over the years.
"As United States Air Forces in Europe evolves to meet current and future threats, this site represents the strong collaboration between the United States and the Government of Luxembourg," added Colonel Vinson, Logistics Readiness Division Chief at US Air Forces in Europe Headquarters, before also thanking all those involved in making this project a reality.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District is managing the construction in coordination with the WSA and the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence. Cheryl Fromme, Europe District Deputy Chief of Engineering and Construction, noted that this was the first project of this scale for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Luxembourg since they helped rebuild the airport in Sandweiler in September 1944. "Though it's a newer location for us here, the mission is the same one that we're proud to contribute to with our projects across Europe - supporting regional security by delivering facilities that enable US forces and our allies and partners to effectively execute their mission," she said.
The actual groundbreaking took place after the speeches and was followed by a reception.
In addition to representatives of USAFE, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Embassy and the Luxembourg Government, attendees included the Mayor of Sanem, Simone Asselborn-Bintz, and members of the press, among others.