MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - Col. Antanas Matutis, Lithuanian Air Force commander, toured the 193rd Special Operations Wing March 21 as part of a week-long visit to enhance security cooperation and plan 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 Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. The 193rd SOW has been an integral part of the partnership, 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.”
Matutis toured the 193 SOW’s new aircraft, the MC-130J Commando II, and learned about some of the diverse mission sets associated with the aircraft. Airmen with the 193 SOW reviewed 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 multicapable 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. 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 United States maintains a vast global partnership network with robust air capabilities that are ready today. Tours like this build strong relationships with partners, promoting peace.
“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.”