KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Continuing tensions over Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis will keep U.S. airmen busy with at least two more deployments to Poland this year.
This week, two C-130s and about 75 airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base wrapped up a 60-day “flight training” deployment to Powidz air base in Poland. The squadron is tapped to send another rotation of the same assets back to Poland in October, said Capt. Sybil Taunton, a spokeswoman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. That deployment will conclude at the end of December, with planning of future rotations dependent on fiscal 2015 funding, she said in an email.
U.S. fighter aircraft based in Europe are also headed to Poland next month. Taunton said the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will participate in a joint training operation at Lask air base, sending six F-16 fighter jets and about 120 airmen.
As part of the deployment, the aircraft will participate in a NATO-led exercise in the Czech Republic. Ample Strike, as the exercise is being called, will take place during the first two weeks of September and will involve about a dozen NATO nations.
The Italy-based airmen and fighter jets will stay on at Lask until early October, Taunton said.
Meanwhile, another deployment of U.S. fighter jets to eastern Europe is ending. Twelve F-15Cs and about 180 airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing have been participating in bilateral training at Graf Ignatievo air base in Bulgaria since Aug. 18 and will head home this week, Taunton said.
The deployments to eastern Europe are in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Taunton said. “We’re showing a commitment to reassuring our allies here, to partner with them and continue relationships into the future,” she said.
In response to the Ukraine crisis, the United States, under U.S. European Command’s Operation Atlantic Resolve, has taken additional military measures, including enhanced U.S. troop rotations in the region and joint military exercises, intended to reassure central and eastern European allies.
“Being forward based in Europe enables us to keep a persistent presence to work directly with our allies and partners,” Taunton wrote in the email.