On 1 September, Poland handed over command of NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltics to the Czech Republic.
The Polish Air Force had been leading the peacetime mission since the end of April. Allied nations regularly rotate the mission command as part of the Alliance’s collective defence agreement.
«The Czech Air Force understands the Baltic air policing mission as its contribution to a collective defence of the NATO airspace. At the same time it is a great opportunity to train not only our personnel but host nation personnel as well,» said Lieutenant Colonel David Schreier of the Czech Republic’s Air Force.
Not all Allies possess the necessary means to provide air policing of their territory. However, other nations provide assistance when needed to ensure that no nation is left at a disadvantage and equality of security is provided for all.
«By taking part in the air policing mission, we show our presence in the Baltic region,» says Lieutenant Colonel Leszek Błach an officer in the Polish Air Force. «The mission demonstrates NATO’s capability and commitment to Alliance solidarity.»
Launched in 2004 under the responsibility of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltics represents the collective will to preserve the integrity of Alliance airspace.
Conducting the mission requires an air surveillance and control system, an air command and control structure and the appropriate interceptor aircraft to be available to respond to violations and infringements of NATO airspace.
«We also take away a lot of practical benefit from the mission which we will use in the future and share with others in our air force. We anticipate many lasting benefits,» Lieutenant Colonel Blach added.