WASHINGTON - A dozen more F-16s and 300 personnel based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will augment the U.S. aviation detachment at Łask Air Base, Poland, a Pentagon spokesman announced today.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced last week that the United States would augment the aviation detachment in light of the situation in Ukraine, and Army Col. Steven Warren provided details today in a meeting with reporters.
Warren said 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons and associated personnel from the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano are expected to arrive in Poland by the end of the week. "This enhancement marks another milestone in the rotational deployment of U.S. military aircraft that we began in late 2012," he added.
Hagel met with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak on March 9 to consider options for locations, with U.S. European Command deciding on the number of aircraft, Warren told reporters earlier this week. Previously planned rotations will continue, he said today, with this augmentation serving as an addition to those already scheduled.
"It's consistent with the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Poland," Warren said. "Augmenting this aviation detachment was a deliberate choice to demonstrate to our allies that U.S. commitments to our collective defense responsibilities are credible and remain in force. The work we're doing with Poland does just that."