As part of the Trump administration’s realignment of U.S. forces in Europe to better deter Russia, the Pentagon has just established a new special operations site in the Latvian capital of Riga. The site will allow U.S. special operators to expand operations throughout the vulnerable Baltic region in Russia’s front yard.
As Stars and Stripes notes:
The site is the latest example of steady U.S. military investment in the Baltic region, where the Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past five years to improve military infrastructure and allow more drills to be carried out.
The Pentagon reportedly spent $3.7 million to build this new site through the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), the U.S. military program aimed at preventing Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank, reports Stripes.
The site in Latvia comes as the Pentagon completed $10.8 million in upgrades to Estonia’s Amari Air Base in July. That improved airbase in Estonia will now allow U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE) and NATO to fly more combat “aircraft from the northernmost of the Baltic states,” notes Stripes.
Lt. Col. Juan Martinez, a spokesman for Special Operations Command-Europe, said in a statement reported by Stars and Stripes, that the new site “includes a vehicle servicing facility, ammunition storage and two helipads for U.S. CV-22 aircraft from the United Kingdom-based 352nd Special Operations Wing.”
Martinez added that the “assets are designed to allow special operations forces to move rapidly in and out of the area and conduct maintenance.”
But there is more in store for U.S. forces in Latvia. According to Martinez, another site nearing completion in the small Baltic country will increase the amount of U.S. “gear and personnel that can move into the Baltic state for exercises, or in response to a crisis.”
These underreported developments demonstrate the U.S. determination to support NATO on the new front lines with Russia — in the Baltics, Poland, Romania, and elsewhere — as opposed to simply maintaining U.S. forces in the rear in Germany where they once faced a now non-existent Soviet threat.