U.S. has deployed fighter jets and airmen in Iceland and Netherlands as an apparent show of force, allegedly to deter Russian aggression in the region.
As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR), a dozen F-15C Eagles and about 350 airmen have been deployed in Europe by the United States. To deter what the U.S. refers to as Russian aggression against Europe, aircraft and troops have been temporarily stationed in the north European regions.
The mission dossier for them asks them to support NATO in air surveillance missions in Iceland and conduct aerial training sessions in the Netherlands. However, Russia hasn’t taken the news well, and insists that its actions in the region aren’t hostile and the United States is merely citing the alleged aggression as a ruse to rile up military presence in the region and justify greater military spending.
The United States Air Force has deployed the fighter jets and airmen from the 131st Fighter Squadron at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts, as well as the 194th Fighter Squadron at Fresno Air National Guard Base in California, confirmed the military division in an official statement.
“The American fighters will conduct training alongside NATO allies and partners as part of OAR to strengthen interoperability, demonstrate US commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, and prosperous and to deter further Russian aggression.”
The troops will be primarily stationed at Iceland’s Keflavik and the Dutch Leeuwarden Air Base. However, during the six-month tour, the fighter jets are expected to be forward-deployed to the Eastern European nations of Bulgaria, Romania, and Estonia, considering their proximity with Russia. Incidentally, the deployment of the dozen fighter jets is just the beginning. The deployment is one of several orchestrated by the Pentagon. The agency plans to send six additional F-15s to Finland next month. Interestingly, Finland is not a NATO member, but it has always been an active participant in such missions and activities.
The US has deployed 12 F-15 fighter jets to Iceland and The Netherlands in a bid to deter Russian aggression. pic.twitter.com/kmDWM1UOej— UK News (@UK__News) April 3, 2016
Why is America sending jets and troops to Europe? According to CNN, the F-15 fighter jets are part of several deployments of American fighters being sent to Europe in an effort to deter further Russian aggression in the region, shared Magnus Nordenman, director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council.
“Russia’s increased patrols with fighters, bombers and submarines in the North Atlantic have brought new attention to the region and the need for NATO to have a presence there as well.”
The fighter jets are part of America’s Theater Security Packages, noted USAF’s statement. The force is routinely used to support and bolster existing Air Force capabilities in Europe. Additionally, a program was initiated in February, 2014, for Finland, specifically to reassure NATO allies shortly after Russia started conducting military exercises and displayed signs of renewed military aggression in Ukraine. In fact, the Ukraine crisis serves as a backdrop for a large number of deployments of American forces and military equipment.
Interestingly, apart from a small coast guard force, Iceland is the only country in NATO that does not have a military. The U.S. did have an air base in the region, but it was closed in 2006. The base, was critical during World War II, as Iceland sits at a key strategic location in the middle of the Atlantic, reported the Daily Mail.
Ever since the air base closed, Iceland has been strategically helpless towards the alleged air incursions executed by Russia. While NATO has maintained air control over Iceland since 2008, the country has tried to remain “neutral,” only to show visible signs of allegiance to NATO defence alliance in recent years. Needless to say, this has clearly upset the Kremlin.
While U.S. fighters have been stationed in Iceland and Netherland for now, between 70 and 100 members of the Oregon Air National Guard will spent two weeks undertaking the exercises, which could yet include Norway and Sweden, reported YLE.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]