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Official visit of the Commander of the Combined Air Operations Center of Torrejon to Greece

October 24, 2022
  • Lieutenant General Fernando de la Cruz, Commander of CAOC Torrejón, has traveled to Greece following the invitation of the Chief of Staff of the Greek Air Force, Lieutenant General Themistoklis Boroulias.

Official visits to countries within the CAOCTJ's area of responsibility are made periodically to review, with both political and military authorities, air defense activity over the past year. Other related matters of interest are also discussed at these meetings.

Upon his arrival at the Greek Air Force Headquarters on the 18th, Lt. Gen. De la Cruz was received by Lt. Gen. Boroulias, with whom he had a working meeting in which he discussed the above matters.

The Hellenic Air Force General Staff (HAFGS) is the supreme echelon of the Hellenic Air Force that supports the Greek Ministry of Defense in the administration of the personnel, equipment and resources belonging to the Greek Air Force (HAF). Its mission is to plan, direct, coordinate and control the operation of the HAF, in order to assist the Chief of Defence Staff of the Hellenic country in his executive role both in peacetime and in case of crisis or conflict.

After the meeting with General Boroulias, General De la Cruz held a meeting with the Greek Chief of Defense Staff, General Konstantinos Floros. During the meeting, strategic issues, bilateral cooperation, as well as challenges and future defense projects of the Hellenic country were discussed.

Next stopover took place on October 19, in Thessaloniki, where the headquarters of the Hellenic Tactical Air Force (HTAF) is located, and where the CAOCTJ Commander was received by Major General Georgios Kyriacou, who gave a presentation on the history, mission, structure and weapon systems used in the exercise of the assigned mission.

The mission of the Tactical Air Force Headquarters is, in peacetime, to prepare and train the combat units under its command, to carry out missions and to cooperate with the other services of the Greek Armed Forces. In times of crisis or conflict, it is responsible for the administration and coordination of air units to carry out such operations.

From the HQ, the authorities moved to the 110th Fighter Wing, where they visited the 337th Air Forces Squadron. General De la Cruz congratulated the men and women of the squadron for the work they are carrying out in the NATO airspace surveillance mission.

This day ended with a visit to the National Air Operations Center (NAOC) of the Hellenic Tactical Air Force, commanded by Brigadier General Dimitrios Papadimitriou, who, after receiving General De la Cruz and the rest of the delegation, made a presentation of the unit, reviewing its history, missions, assigned resources and current challenges.

Official visit continued on October 21 on the island of Crete, where the CAOCTJ Commander visited NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center of Excellence (IAMD COE) and whose mission is to enhance the exploitation of the Alliance's IAMD capabilities, as well as those of NATO nations and partners.

Brigadier General Nikolaos Kokkonis, Commander of the Center, received the CAOCTJ Commander and showed him the capabilities of the Center at the service of the Alliance, the ways to improve interoperability, coordination and collaboration with partners in response to new demands, as well as to support multilateral development in this field

The day continued with a visit to the 115th Fighter Wing of the Greek Air Force, where the facilities of the 343rd Air Force Squadron were visited.

Official visit to Greece ended with a stop at NATO's Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center (NMIOTC), which provides the necessary training for NATO forces to conduct special operations, aerial surveillance, subsurface and surface surveillance activities in support of Maritime Interdiction Operations. General De la Cruz met with the center's commander, Greek Navy Commodore Charalampos Thymis.

Combined Air Operations Center – Torrejón (NATO)

Under the organic command of Allied Air Command within the NATO command structure, CAOCs are responsible for planning, tasking, directing, coordinating and supervising air operations of aircraft assigned by member nations in their area of responsibility. The Uedem CAOC oversees areas such as Iceland and the Baltic Sea, and the CAOC in Torrejon is responsible for the Black Sea region; both CAOCs work with the corresponding national warning and control centers to fulfill the mission of safeguarding NATO airspace throughout Europe.

The main mission of CAOC Torrejón, under the direct command of a lieutenant general of the Spanish Air and Space Army, is to plan, direct, coordinate, supervise, analyze and report on air defense operations in southern Europe, following the directives of the NATO Air Component Command to which it reports and with the resources assigned to NATO by the nations in peacetime.

The Spanish Armed Forces make an important contribution to the mission carried out by this center. Some 120 military personnel serve in the CAOC itself as well as in the National Support Element (NSE) and the NATO Communications and Information Agency Unit (NCIA).