NATO Air Chiefs Discuss Security

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s view of reorganizing Western European security means “Europe without America,” which would be a Europe that Russia could dominate. That was the warning from Col. Jaak Tarien, Estonian air force commander at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. In a Sept. 15 panel on NATO airpower, Tarien presented a grim view of the threat Putin’s Russia poses to his tiny country, only two decades since regaining its independence from the Soviet Union. Tarien said Putin “is on a mission to restore the Soviet empire.” Tarien noted that the Estonian air force’s main contribution to NATO was Amari Air Base, which alliance members use for exercises and training. Also on the panel, Norwegian air force chief Maj. Gen. Per Egil Rygg cited the growing importance of the Arctic region for NATO, while Spanish air force chief Gen. Javier Garcia Arnaiz said his focus was to the south in Northern Africa. Arnaiz said the emergence of asymmetric threats requires his force to react quickly and deploy forces within hours, not days.