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Torrejon Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Commander-in-Chief conducts his first official visit to Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia
February 3, 2023
  • During his stay in Zagreb Lieutenant General De la Cruz met with several Croatian authorities

Lieutenant General Fernando De La Cruz, Commander-in-Chief of CAOC - Torrejón, has paid an official visit to the Republic of Croatia.

On the first day of the visit, Lieutenant General De la Cruz had meetings with Neven Pelicarić, Foreign and European Policy Advisor to the President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, and with Dragan Lozančić, Advisor on Defence and National Security Policy.

He was then received by the Minister of Defence, Mario Banožić, with whom he had a working meeting to discuss issues such as the short- and medium-term modernisation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, the implications of the war in Ukraine and the security situation in Europe. The meeting was also attended by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, Admiral Robert Hranj, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec.

After the meeting with the Minister of Defence, General De la Cruz visited ALA 91 (Wing 91) at Pleso Air Base, halting at the alarm barracks, where he checked the air assets with which the Croatian Air Force carries out the NATO Air Policing mission.

On the second day of the official visit, 31 JAN, General De la Cruz visited the Croatian Air Force Headquarters. After signing in the Book of Honour, he had an interview with the Commander-in-Chief of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec. In the course of the meeting, the transition to the new fighter aircraft and bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries in the framework of the air defence of the area of responsibility were discussed, among other issues.

The official visit ended with a stop at the Podvornica Warning and Control Centre, where General De la Cruz received a presentation on the role and capabilities of the Centre as a functional element of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS).


Under the organic command of Allied Air Command within the NATO command structure, CAOCs are responsible for planning, tasking, directing, directing, coordinating and supervising the 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 Torrejon CAOC is responsible for the Black Sea region; both CAOCs work with the corresponding national warning and control centres to fulfil the mission of safeguarding NATO airspace throughout Europe.

The main mission of the Torrejón CAOC, under the direct command of a Lieutenant General of the Spanish Air and Space Army, is to plan, direct, coordinate, supervise, analyse and report on air defence operations in Southern Europe, following the directives of the NATO Air Component Command to which it reports and with the means assigned to NATO by the nations in peacetime.

The Spanish Armed Forces are a vital contribution to the mission carried out by this centre. About 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).