NATO member states agreed to extend the alliance’s Baltic air policing mission, providing fighter cover to member states Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania beyond 2014. “I warmly welcome today’s decision by the North Atlantic Council to further authorize NATO air policing in the Baltic States with a continuous presence of fighters,” said Anders Fogh Rassmussen, NATO secretary general, in a Feb. 8 statement. He added, “This mission continues to demonstrate the alliance’s commitment to collective defense and solidarity for all its members.” Since the Baltic states lack fighter assets of their own, 14 NATO air forces have deployed fighters to Siauliai AB, Lithuania, on a rotating basis since the states joined the alliance in 2004. Two years ago, NATO agreed to fighter rotations through 2014, with the most recent agreement open ended. Danish F-16s handed the mission off to German F-4 Phantoms that arrived at Siauliai on Jan. 4.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.