U.S. Marine Corps Units Deploy to Lithuania, Poland in Support of NATO

U.S. Marine Corps units have deployed to Lithuania. The deployment of a Marine Air Control Group to Lithuania comes as the Corps repositions F/A-18C Hornets and KC-130J Hercules to Poland, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

U.S. Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing take off in a KC-130J Super Hercules at Air Station, Bardufoss, on March 5 during Exercise Cold Response ’22, a biennial exercise that takes place across Norway. [Courtesy: U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nygaard]

The U.S. Marine Corps has deployed a command and control unit to Lithuania in support of NATO's defense posture, U.S. Air Forces in Europe announced Monday.

The move comes as the Corps also repositioned F/A-18C Hornets and KC-130J Hercules aerial refuelers to Lask Air Base in Poland.

The deployments are the latest repositioning of U.S. military forces to the Baltic region in support of NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February.

"The rapid redeployment of U.S. Marines immediately reinforces the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank," U.S. Air Forces in Europe said in a statement. "These deployments were conducted in full coordination with host nations and military authorities, and although temporary in nature, they are prudent measures to increase readiness and enhance Eastern European collective defense during this period of uncertainty."

Marine Air Control Group (MACG) 28 is a command and control unit based at Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina. The unit provides multi-domain command and control, air defense, air traffic control, and communications support.

The repositioned KC-130Js are attached to the Aerial Refueler Training Squadron (VMGR) 252, which is also based in Cherry Point. The deployed F/A-18Cs are attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing based in Beaufort, S.C. 

As of late March, U.S. defense officials have deployed nearly 20,000 troops to Europe on temporary orders, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Thursday.

"Thus far, nobody has been rotated out; everybody that the Secretary has ordered in, is going to stay in," Kirby told reporters last week, adding that the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is still on a scheduled deployment in the Mediterranean, where it will stay until the Secretary of Defense decides it's time to rotate it out.

On Friday, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced it would be providing an additional $300 million to Ukraine for security assistance, increasing the U.S. financial commitment to the country's military since the launch of Russia's invasion to $1.6 billion. The latest aid package includes armored vehicles, laser-guided rocket systems, ammunition and gear, as well as drones.

According to Kirby, the aerial systems include:

The equipment will be drawn down from DOD stocks.

"This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide new capabilities to Ukraine’s Armed Forces," Kirby said in a statement.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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