Two MQ-1 Predators and about 70 airmen from the Texas Air National Guard’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing left for Lielvarde AB, Latvia, this weekend, according to US European Command. The airmen will remain in Europe until the middle of September, testing the unit’s ability to forward deploy the remotely piloted aircraft and fly air operations in support of European partners and allies. The deployment is funded by the European Reassurance Initiative, which also funded the first deployment of F-22s to Europe. The Raptors arrived in Germany on Aug. 28 and will remain in Europe through mid-September. Earlier in August, a dozen A-10s and about 300 airmen returned home after the first theater security package mission in Europe. The European Reassurance Initiative helped fund 46 operations and maintenance projects and 23 military construction projects in Europe in Fiscal 2015-2016, the director of logistics, installations, and mission support for USAFE-AFAFRICA said in July.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.