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400 Marines, 10 F-18s, ‘couple’ C-130s deploy to eastern Europe

A F/A-18 Hornet lands on Merritt Field Located on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S. C., Jan. 21 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jimmy J. Vertus/Released)
March 30, 2022

The U.S. has deployed an additional 400 U.S. Marines, 10 F-18 Hornet fighter jets and a pair of Hercules transport aircraft to eastern European this week amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced around 200 Marines from Marine Air Control Group 28, based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina had been repositioned to the eastern European country of Lithuania. Kirby said an additional 200 more Marines would also deploy in eastern Europe, with about 10 F-18 Hornets from Beaufort, South Carolina and “a couple of Marine Corps C-130s.”

Kirby announced the new deployments a day after announcing the deployment of six U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler electronic attack jets from Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-134 “Garudas,” to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.

Kirby said the new Marine deployments are not specifically attached to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Response Force, but were being deployed separately, albeit in coordination with the alliance.

This latest deployment announcement brings the total number of U.S. troops deployed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to more than 12,000, according to Marine Corps Times.

Other U.S. units deployed in response to the Ukraine invasion include 4,700 U.S. Army paratroopers 82nd Airborne Division to Poland; 3,800 soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and its sustainment unit to Germany; 1,000 soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment to Romania; 800 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Latvia; 300 members of the Army’s V Corps to Germany and Poland; 300 soldiers from the XVIII Airborne Corps to Germany; 300 ordnance and maintenance soldiers to Germany; 150 airmen from a KC-135 Stratotanker squadron from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, to Spangdahlem, Germany; 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 other Baltic countries; and 40 members of an Army air support operations unit to Romania and Poland

Additional U.S. units have also been placed on “prepare to deploy” notice, which could bring the total number of U.S. response troops in Europe to 14,000.

Kirby said the U.S. does not have an exact figure for how many troops it may deploy in response to the month-old invasion in Ukraine.

“It’s not like, you know, the 14,000 is a goal here,” Kirby said. “The Secretary wanted as many options available to him and to the President. And so, you know, we put some on ‘prepare to deploy’ and we sent some forward. It is about options, it’s not about a number goal. It’s about capabilities and making sure that we’ve got the right capabilities.”