Remarks at Papa Air Base

Thank you, Mr. Siklosi, General Orosz, General Vollmecke, General Safar, and Colonel Gangler, and men and women of Papa Air Base and the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

I’m honored to be here at Papa today to celebrate the growing cooperation between NATO Allies.  Even before 1999, when Hungary and the U.S. became Allies, our two countries have been working together for the cause of greater European freedom and stability.  Coalition aircraft operated out of Hungarian airfields during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.  With Hungary’s accession to NATO, the 2000s saw joint air exercises with Hungarian Defense Force MiG-29 aircraft and the Ohio National Guard F-16s through the State Partnership for Peace program.  And over the last few years, we are witnessing the next step forward in our bilateral cooperation.

Since Operation Atlantic Resolve began, all across Europe, NATO allies have recommitted to improving our defense readiness through increased interoperability.  The Hungarian Defense Forces have stepped forward and hosted an impressive number of exercises with NATO allies, showcasing your impressive training ranges and coordination capabilities.  Over the last year, the United States has been able to come to Hungary to participate in an impressive number of exercises.

And it is not only the number of opportunities to train together that is increasing – it is also the breadth of engagement that is expanding.  While we have long had good relations between our Air Forces, most of our joint exercises focused on ground forces interoperability.  This year, we have had three opportunities for our Air Forces to work together here in Hungary, and we foresee more opportunities in the coming year.  As Hungary’s Air Force undertakes its first overseas deployment for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission and continues its ongoing air policing over Slovenia and its own airspace, we see even greater opportunities to learn from each other as Allies.

During this exercise at Papa, Hungarian ground controllers are working with our U.S. Air Force colleagues to  better understand each other’s systems and protocols, and to use these lessons to improve our ability to operate together as Allies.  It is through exercises like this that our NATO alliance, the greatest military alliance in history, is strengthened by every small step forward that we make together.

Thank you very much!  Köszönöm szépen.