An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Search

Lithuania, PA National Guard partnership strengthened during recent visit

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Alexander Farver
  • 193rd Special Operations wing

Col. Antanas Matutis, Lithuanian Air Force commander, toured the 193rd Special Operations Wing March 21, at locations in Middletown and Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. The tour was part of a week-long visit for Matutis and a delegation from Lithuania aimed at enhancing the two countries’ security cooperation. The visit also enhanced strategic planning efforts for current and future military-to-military engagements.

“The main thing is relationship building,” Matutis said. “If we are talking about a small Air Force as we are, we are definitely not able to fight alone a major fight. Cooperation is the only way to survive.”

The Lithuanian Armed Forces have collaborated with the Pennsylvania National Guard for nearly 30 years as part of the National Guard Bureau-led State Partnership Program. The 193rd SOW has been an integral part of the U.S. military’s partnership with Lithuania, becoming a key organization in bolstering security cooperation between the two nations.

“Thirty years of partnership with our Lithuanian allies has fostered deep bonds between our two militaries,” said Col. Edward Fink, 193rd SOW commander. “The support of 193 SOW Airmen has led to our combined ability to enhance security and stability, and deter aggression.”

As part of his visit, Matutis toured the 193 SOW’s new aircraft, the MC-130J Commando II. Wing Airmen familiarized Matutis with some of the diverse mission sets associated with the Commando II, to include aerial refueling, Special Operations Surgical Teams, Critical Care Air Transport, and Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Elements.

“We (Lithuanian Air Force) operate the ‘little brother’ of the Commando II, the CV-27J,” Matutis said. “Being multi-capable is very important. If you have one unit that is capable of doing a variety of missions, you need fewer units overall to be successful. Even if you eliminate one unit, another one will still cover. This creates challenges to potential adversaries.”

Matutis also visited the 193rd SOW’s Bollen Air-to-Ground range in Fort Indiantown Gap, where he observed Tactical Air Control Party Airmen controlling air-to-ground fires training with A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

“For special operations forces, there are a lot of things we could learn because the Lithuanian Air Force is not directly involved with special operations, but on many occasions we support them,” Matutis said. “We have a lot of common training together, especially with our rotary wing aircraft. To learn some of these procedures is very beneficial.”

Fink said the U.S. maintains a vast global partnership network with robust air capabilities that are ready today. Tours such as this build strong relationships with partners that promote peace and prosperity.

“This tour was just one example of the many ways Airmen from the 193rd are at the forefront of strengthening relationships with our partners,” Fink said. “Our Airmen are helping to expand the joint force’s competitive advantage and freedom of action every day.”