USAFE-AFAFRICA leadership tour Lithuanian air base

U.S Air Force Brig. Gen. Ronald E. Jolly Sr., director of logistics, engineering, and force protection, headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, visited Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, for an event Aug. 5.
The event marked the opening of facilities funded by the European Deterrence Initiative. These facilities are joint-use between the U.S. and Lithuania and support USAFE operations, NATO Baltic Air Policing, and other U.S., host nation and allied partner training and exercises in the region.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa leadership and members from Šiauliai Air Base pose for a photo at Šiauliai AB, Lithuania Aug. 5. The U.S. and Lithuania plan to continue their relationship and look forward to demonstrating an unwavering commitment to collective defense and regional security.

“Today we celebrate the long-running bilateral relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of Lithuania,” said Robert S. Gilchrist, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania. “We also celebrate the NATO Alliance and its commitment to Euro-Atlantic security.”
Prior to the event, Jolly and Gilchrist received a briefing from members of USAFE-AFAFRICA staff, followed by a base tour. The tour showcased infrastructure improvements delivered by the EDI Military Construction and Facility Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization programs, including the newly developed squadron operations building, the air traffic control tower, and a hangar.
Ryan Morrell, USAFE EDI Program manager, led the tour and provided insight on why this visit was so important for the U.S and Lithuania.
“The EDI investments and partnership demonstrated during these construction projects highlight the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and Lithuania,” said Morrell. “This represents the U.S.’s commitment to this bilateral relationship, NATO interoperability and the security of the Transatlantic Alliance.”
Jolly also commented on what the strength of the U.S’s partnership with Lithuania represents.
“This does more than strengthen just the U.S. and Lithuania’s partnership, it strengthens the U.S.’s relationship with all our NATO partners,” said Jolly. “It also helps send a message to our adversaries. It lets them know that we can be effective at any time and from multiple places.”
The visit provided an overview of infrastructure improvements delivered by the EDI, military construction, and facility sustainment, restoration and modernization programs at Šiauliai AB.
“Since 2014, the U.S. government has invested over 27 million dollars in 18 separate projects to improve facilities and infrastructure at Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania,” said Gilchrist. “These projects, funded by the EDI, enable the United States to enhance the U.S. deterrence posture, increase the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in Europe, and support the collective defense and security of NATO allies.”
The investments represent a commitment by the U.S. to increase partner capacity and capabilities at Šiauliai AB. The EDI investments allow the U.S. and NATO to support exercises and missions in partnership with Lithuania and other allies.
“This ceremony does not represent the end of our cooperation on this project,” said Gilchrist. “Instead we hope to mark a continuation of a long term relationship to secure NATO’s territorial air space through increased cooperation among multiple lines of effort.”