The U.S. military has deployed two MQ-1 Predator reconnaissance drones and 70 airmen to Latvia on a training mission as part of U.S. efforts to reassure European allies the United States is committed to their security, the Pentagon said August 31.
The temporary deployment of the predators to Lielvarde Air Base until September 15 was the first time the U.S. military has sent a detachment of drones to Latvia to participate in partner training, said Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
The United States has stepped up partner training deployments to NATO allies in Eastern Europe since Russia last year annexed the Crimean region of Ukraine, raising concerns that Moscow next might target a member of the Western alliance.
The U.S. European Command called the deployment "an effort to help assure our Latvian allies, NATO allies, and European partners of our commitment to regional security and stability."
Davis said the deployment of the airmen was funded by the European Reassurance Initiative, which aims to beef up U.S. military training with European partners.