News

2016.03.30 09:41

Alliance needs to be ready for Baltic Air Defence mission

Algirdas Acus 2016.03.30 09:41

U.S. European Command Commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Philip M. Breedlove visited Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Tuesday to receive a state award from President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

U.S. European Command Commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Philip M. Breedlove visited Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Tuesday to receive a state award from President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

The Cross of Commander of the Order for Merits to Lithuania State Award was given on the 12th anniversary of Baltic countries NATO membership.

One of the most visible sign of the 12 years membership in the Baltic's was an Air Police mission. Various Allies contributed planes to Šiauliai air base since 2004 to police Baltic skies. Later, after Crimea annexation the mission was strengthened with one more air base in Estonia.

Breedlove, however, noted that the Alliance needs to be ready for the Baltic Air Defence mission.

Chief of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Jonas Vytautas Žukas said that while Lithuania is concentrating on its own air defence capabilities, the country hopes more contribution from Allies. Baltic Countries do not have their own superior air defence systems or planes.



Baltic Defence will be an important issue at NATO summit in Warsaw this year. Breedlove confirmed that NATO headquarters develop various defence measures options for political leadership to consider, although it’s too early to talk about the specifics.

SHOTLIST

Breedlove meets President of Lithuania and is presented with state award

Sound bite (English)

PHILIP MARK BREEDLOVE, The Commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe:

I receive this award with great honour. But more importantly I want to thank you and your nation for the things that you do not only for our Alliance, but in bilateral relationship that we enjoy with America. Thank you very much.

Cutaway

Sound bite (English)

PHILIP MARK BREEDLOVE, The Commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe:

As it relates to Baltic air policing and air defence, of course, these are two different situations. The Baltic Air policing for peace is a peace time mission. But I think that Alliance does need to be ready for the Air Defence mission and, of course, we, as military, are looking at that capability.

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

JONAS VYTAUTAS ŽUKAS, Chief Commander of Lithuanian Armed Forces:

No doubt that we ourselves discuss medium range air defence systems, and we did purchase short range air defence systems, but we truly wish more contribution from our Allies or understanding how the switch from air police to air defence should happen.

Sound bite (English)

PHILIP MARK BREEDLOVE, The Commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe:

So as I have just mentioned this is a tasking that has been given to our headquarters to develop options for our political leadership to consider. So it’s too early to talk about the specifics of what we would recommend. We need to have that conversation within the NAC (North Atlantic Council) before we have it made public, but we have been tasked to develop this approach that we call EFP - Enhanced Foreign Presence and we’ll present that for decision soon.

Two shots of award given to Breedlove