Monday, February 26, 2024

US Marines deploy to Poland to enhance NATO’s capabilities in Eastern Europe

The U.S. Marine Corps announced on Tuesday that Marines and KC-130J Super Hercules from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), deployed to Łask Air Base, Poland, under the command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and as a key enabler to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312.

The Marine Corps said in a release that VMFA-312, also a subordinate unit to 2nd MAW, deployed to Łask Air Base to conduct NATO’s enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission.

The goal of NATO eAP is to demonstrate the collective resolve of Allies, demonstrate the defensive nature of NATO, and deter aggression or the threat of aggression in the region. VMFA-312’s F/A-18 Hornets are flying patrols over Polish airspace as part of a joint effort to increase the readiness and responsiveness of NATO.


The KC-130J Super Hercules from VMGR-252 increase the distance and endurance of VMFA-312 and Allied air power. The KC-130J provides aerial refueling, allowing the F/A-18s to fly for longer durations without having to land to refuel. The KC-130Js are an organic asset to the Marine Corps and a vital component of VMFA-312’s success in NATO eAP.

In addition to its aerial-refueling capabilities, the KC-130J provides air assault transport of troops, equipment and supplies. This capability contributed greatly to the rapid and expeditious redeployment of 2nd MAW units from Norway, where they participated in Exercise Cold Response 2022, to Poland’s Łask Air Base and Lithuania’s Šiauliai Air Base.

Since the start of Exercise Cold Response 2022, VMGR-252 transported 623 passengers, approximately 400,000 pounds of cargo, and provided approximately 1,130,000 pounds of fuel in the air to multiple types of aircraft. The squadron’s flown 460.7 hours and 169 sorties within 71 days. The squadron has conducted continuous operations, alternating between aerial refueling and logistical support in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Lithuania, and Poland. VMGR-252 demonstrates 2nd MAW’s expeditionary nature and alignment with the commandant’s force design initiatives to be capable of supporting joint and Allied operations.

Multiple elements within 2nd MAW rapidly repositioned from the Arctic to Eastern Europe to reinforce the Allied defensive posture and to support NATO eAP. The deployments have been conducted in coordination with host nations and military authorities, and although temporary in nature, they are prudent measures to increase readiness and enhance Eastern Europe’s collective defense. The deployment of U.S. Marine Corps forces is evidence of the Marine Corps’ readiness and strong commitment to NATO Allies and partners.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.



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