WASHINGTON – The U.S. military is boosting its NATO presence in a bid to support the defenses of U.S. allies in Europe in response to Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
After Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel first alluded to the effort during testimony on Capitol Hill earlier Wednesday morning, a Defense official confirmed that the U.S. will send six additional F-15s and one KC-135 to “augment the mission” in Baltic countries.
The U.S. currently provides four F-15s to what’s known as the Baltic Air Policing rotation. The additional aircraft will be sent from a base in Britain to Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania, the official said.
“This action comes at the request of our Baltic Allies and further demonstrates our commitment to NATO security,” the official said.
In addition, the official said the Pentagon is now “consulting” with Polish allies on “increasing activities” in connection with a separate detachment mission in that country. Poland currently hosts 10 U.S. Air Force personnel as part of joint aviation training work.
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