With thousands of troops deployed to Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Navy is adding to its assets in the region. The Defense Department announced Monday that six EA-18G Growlers, with 240 air crew and maintainers, will head to Spangdahlem, Germany, as part of 14,000 troops the U.S. has committed to reassure NATO.
The electronic attack aircraft will not be doing any jamming missions, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“They are not being sent because of some sort of acute threat that was perceived or some specific incident that happened,” he said. “They are being deployed ― as we have said all along: The secretary wants to keep options open. So, nothing more should be made out of it than a prudent decision to continue to — as we continue to — reevaluate our force posture on NATO’s eastern flank.”
Whether the jets fly presence missions, as the F-35s deployed to the Baltic countries in late February have done, will be up to U.S. European Command, Kirby said.
This latest announcement brings the total mobilization of U.S. troops since February to about 11,800.
Previous deployments include:
- 4,700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division to Poland
- 300 soldiers from the XVIII Airborne Corps to Germany
- 1,000 soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment to Romania
- 800 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Latvia
- 100 F-35 Lightning II air crew and maintainers to Estonia, Lithuania and Romania
- 100 AH-64 Apache air crew and maintainers to Poland and the Baltic states
- 3,800 from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and its sustainment unit to Germany
- 150 airmen from a KC-135 Stratotanker squadron from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington
- 40 members of an Army air support operations unit to Romania and Poland
- 300 ordnance and maintenance soldiers to Germany
- 300 members of the Army’s V Corps to Germany and Poland
Thousands more troops have been put on heightened alert to deploy, though the Pentagon has not been able to specify how many.
In total, the Pentagon has announced 14,000 activations total ― 7,000 to individual countries and 7,000 more for the NATO Response Force ― leaving more than 2,000 more troops that could be called up in support.
“Right now our focus is on whether or not there needs to be additional temporary deployments to shore up the eastern flank given, what’s going on in Ukraine,” a senior defense official told reporters on Friday.
Navy aircraft aboard the carrier Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea have also been flying air policing sorties in eastern Europe.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.