Austin will depart the U.S. August 8 to participate in the change of command ceremony for the U.S. Marine Corps in Germany and will then "travel to Latvia to meet with senior government officials to affirm U.S. commitment and persistent presence in Latvia and the broader Baltic region," said a release from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Back on February 22, just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a decision to strengthen the presence of American forces in Europe by sending soldiers and military equipment to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The first additional U.S. troops arrived just one day later in Latvia.
At the end of last year, Biden also signed the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022, which includes the Baltic Security Initiative, which provides for the allocation of 150 million US dollars for the development of the defense capabilities of the Baltic states in 2022.
Lloyd J. Austin III is the 28th secretary of defense, sworn in on Jan. 22, 2021. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Austin served 41 years in uniform, retiring as a four-star Army general after three years as commander of U.S. Central Command.