The Pentagon is sending KC-135s and roughly 150 Airmen to Europe to support troops already deployed there in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, press secretary John F. Kirby announced March 7.
The tankers will come from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and are planned to go to Souda Bay, Greece, “to provide additional aerial refueling support to the commander of U.S. European Command,” Kirby said in a press briefing.
Fairchild is home to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, the Air Force’s lone “super” tanker wing. The 92nd boasts 63 aircraft in its inventory and is often called upon for refueling needs. Kirby did not specify how many tankers would deploy.
The move is one of several ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III over the weekend, Kirby said. Approximately 40 members of an air support operations center also will deploy to Poland and Romania from Fort Stewart, Ga., where the 15th Air Operations Support Squadron is based.
On top of that, roughly 300 personnel from a modular ammunition ordnance company out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and a support maintenance company out of Fort Stewart will deploy to support the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, in Germany.
All told, roughly 500 service members are being deployed in support of the 7,000 U.S. troops who recently deployed to Germany.
“Specifically, the ones we’re talking about today are enablers,” Kirby said. “And we said before when we deployed the additional 7,000 that there would be associated enablers with them. This is part of that support.”
Over the past few weeks, the DOD has shifted troops and resources several times in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, seeking to bolster allies along NATO’s eastern front. On top of the 7,000 service members announced in late February, F-35s, F-16s, and F-15s have all taken part in joint training and enhanced air policing missions, and an infantry battalion, attack aviation battalion, and attack aviation task force totaling 32 Apache helicopters, multiple Stryker units, and 4,700 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division deployed as well.