U.S. Embassy Tallinn January 3, 2014
The United States officially assumes Baltic Air Policing Duties today [January 3, a ceremony was held this morning, in Hangar 2 at the airbase in Siauliai, Lithuania, to mark this transition, with dignitaries from all three Baltic States as well as the U.S. and Belgium attending. In addition to a flyby of two U.S. F-15 and two Belgian F-16 fighters, the ceremony also featured the handing over of the symbolic key of the Baltic States Airspace from the departing Belgian Detachment Commander, Captain Commander Sebastian Mesmaker, to the arriving U.S. Air Force Detachment Commander, Lt Col Lendy Renegar.
NATO ensures constant surveillance and control of its airspace around the clock, but for those member nations that do not have their own air assets, the Alliance fills the gap. Since 2004, the Alliance has managed the Baltic Air Policing Program to provide assistance to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Through this program, planes from various member nations patrol the Baltic skies on a rotational basis and ensure that the Alliance is ready to rapidly respond to any threat to its airspace. Since the program's inception, the United States has participated on three occasions, and onJanuary 6th it will begin its fourth rotation.
U.S. Assumes Baltic Air-Policing Duties