Tester Travels to Eastern and Central Europe to Visit American Troops, European Allies & Conduct Defense Department Oversight

Senator visited Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Denmark to hold official discussions on American national security policy and the war in Ukraine

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, this week returned to Montana after spending a week meeting with American troops stationed across Europe and conducting in-depth, on-the-ground oversight of the Department of Defense in the region. Chairman Tester also held official discussions and briefings with U.S. and European allies on challenges presented by Russian aggression in Ukraine, the influx of Ukrainian refugees to the region, and other security and economic concerns.  

“As Defense Chairman, it’s critical that I meet with our troops on the ground, and hear directly from the brave women and men serving our country all around the world,” said Tester. “These folks are the tip of the spear in Europe, and we need to make sure they have the resources they need to keep our country safe—and make sure the Department of Defense is using taxpayer resources effectively. I also had the opportunity to meet directly with some of our nation’s European allies, and we will continue to stand firmly with them and with Ukraine in defense of their freedom and democracy against Russian aggression.”

An overview of Chairman Tester’s trip can be found below:

Monday, October 24, 2022 [Wiesbaden, Germany]

Tester received a briefing from the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Europe and Africa about the Army’s role in ensuring security and stability in the region, before meeting with representatives from Joint Task Force Dragon, whose mission is to provide assurance to NATO Allies and partners in Europe. Senator Tester then toured military facilities and the International Donor Coordination Center, and met with leaders from U.S. Naval Forces Europe to discuss the Navy’s mission on the continent.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 [Wiesbaden, Germany]

Tester met with leaders of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and inspected its major facilities. He then met with American servicemembers to discuss their experiences in Europe and what Congress can do to continue to support their mission. Tester also received a briefing on the significance and operations of Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, before inspecting a C-130 plane and meeting with leaders and airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron to discuss their mission in Europe. He also met with the Deputy Commander U.S. Air Forces Europe to discuss the critical role of the Air Force in defending American interests in Europe and received a briefing from leaders of the United States European Command on current geo-strategic issues and our nation’s military posture in the region.

Wednesday, October 26 [Vilnius, Lithuania]

Senator Tester visited Pabradė and toured the troop training and wellness facilities located there, including volleyball and basketball courts, gym, containerized housing unit and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center. He then met with American servicemembers, including Montanans, to hear directly about their mission in Lithuania and how Congress can continue to support them. Following meetings with American troops, Senator Tester met with Lithuania Minister of National Defense, Arvydas Anušauskas, to discuss the critical military and diplomatic partnership between the United States and Lithuania, and the US’ continued support for Lithuania’s military modernization program to help ensure its security and territorial integrity.

Thursday, October 27 [Rzeszow, Poland / Copenhagen, Denmark]

Tester received an intelligence briefing and met with American soldiers and leaders from the 101st Airborne Division before receiving a briefing from the Department of State Mission Poland and U.S. Ukrainian Embassy, as well as from leaders of the military and US Agency for International Development (USAID). Tester then toured the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and met with Andreas Kirchhof, Senior External Relations Adviser, UNHCR Poland; Richard Sollom, Senior Protection Officer, UNHCR Rzeszow; and two Ukrainian refugees. He then met with the US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark to discuss American foreign policy in Europe.

Friday, 28 October [Copenhagen, Denmark]

Tester received a Country Team briefing at the US Embassy in Copenhagen and a Danish intelligence briefing at the Kastellet. He also met with Kasper Høeg-Jensen, Policy Director for the Danish Ministry of Defense, to discuss arctic security issues, US support for NATO, and Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Tester took the gavel of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in early 2021. The Subcommittee is responsible for providing more than $720 billion annually to the Department of Defense and related agencies. This is more than 95 percent of the military’s yearly budget, and includes matters ranging from pay and benefits for millions of service members and civilians to the development of advanced technologies and next-generation weapons. The Subcommittee also oversees funding for nearly all major U.S. intelligence agencies.