Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fairchild deploying tankers, 150 personnel to support NATO operations

A pair of KC-135Rs are on display for the 64th birthday of the plane, Monday, Aug. 31. 2020, at Fairchild Air Force Base.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

The Defense Department announced Monday it will deploy 500 additional troops to support NATO operations in eastern Europe, including tankers and support personnel from Fairchild Air Force Base, to a base in the Mediterranean.

Press Secretary John Kirby made the announcement Monday at the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the deployment of additional forces over the weekend, Kirby said, to support air and ground forces already deployed in Europe.

Kirby said “a number of KC-135 refueling aircraft” from Fairchild with 150 airmen will be sent to Souda Bay, Greece, “to provide additional aerial refueling support to the commander of U.S. European Command.”

Souda Bay, located on the island of Crete, is home to Crete Naval Base, one of the largest bases of the Hellenic Navy and U.S. Naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean.

Additionally, approximately 350 personnel are deploying from Fort Stewart in Georgia and Fort Bragg in North Carolina to provide aircraft command and control and logistics support to U.S. forces in Germany, Romania and Poland.

“These personnel are being positioned to respond to the security environment caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and certainly to help reinforce, bolster deterrence capabilities of the NATO alliance,” Kirby said.

Fairchild, home to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, has four squadrons of KC-135 refueling tankers and is one of the Air Force’s largest refueling bases with more than 60 aircraft.