World Bulletin / News Desk
Although the incident took place on July 19, but was only reported to the media a fortnight later.
The servicemen, traveling from Alaska on commercial flights, reportedly had problems with a connecting flight at Vienna’s Schwechat Airport and had to leave the transit area to rebook, Austrian Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Michael Bauer said.
During a luggage scan, airport security spotted M16 assault rifles and pistols in their travel bags. The servicemen also had no permits allowing them to carry arms.
Austrian police arrested the marines, who were expelled from Austraia along with their weapons on a return flight bound for Washington.
The incident took place accidentally, US European Command spokesperson David Westover told Sputnik.
“By unintentional oversight, the necessary clearances required for transiting Austria were not properly processed prior to their departure. The Austrian authorities were very helpful in resolving this issue,” spokesman said, adding that the marines have since returned to their home duty station in Alaska.
“US European Command and the US Embassy in Vienna are grateful for the support of the Austrian Government to coordinate the onward movement of nine US marines last week,” Westover said.
Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, told RT that the soldiers had not declared them on purpose.
The fact that the US State Department attempted to get permits retrospectively immediately after the incident indicates that “this is not how it is supposed to be done,” Kwiatkowski said.
A passenger on US domestic flights has to declare any weapons in his luggage, she pointed out, so the soldiers “probably did not declare [weapons] on purpose, thinking they could get away with it,” because they needed their weapons and could“get in trouble” if they arrived in Ukraine without arms, Kwiatkowski said.
Kwiatkowski added: “Technically, this is a violation of not just the airline policy but international law.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said earlier in July that the international military exercises Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident-2015 the US soldiers were going to take part in began July 20 and were planned to last through July 31.