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Periodista del EMAD

Visit of the Commander of the Allied Air Command Headquarters to the Combined Air Operations Center Torrejon

Torrejón AB, Madrid
February 22, 2023
  •  Gen. James B. Hecker has been briefed on the operational situation in the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOCT) area of responsibility.

The commander of NATO's Allied Command Air Command (COM AIRCOM) Headquarters Europe, General (USAF) James B. Hecker, has made his first official visit to the Combined Air Operations Center Torrejón.

Upon his arrival, General Hecker was welcomed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Center, Lieutenant General Fernando de la Cruz, who invited him to sign the Unit's book of honor.

After a military ceremony in which the corresponding honors were rendered, General Hecker addressed a few words to the CAOCT personnel.

Afterwards, General De la Cruz made a graphic presentation in which he explained the capabilities and resources of the Center for the fulfillment of its permanent mission of airspace surveillance on the southern flank of Europe. In the presentation, the general also explained the contribution of the CAOCT to the composition of the Joint Force Air Component (JFAC) in the event of its constitution in crisis situations. Referring to the recent crisis in Ukraine, General De la Cruz explained the additional effort carried out by the CAOCT in the protection of the airspace of allied countries within the area of responsibility.

After his presentation, General De la Cruz, accompanied by the Deputy Commander of the CAOCT, Brigadier General of the Hellenic Air Force Evangelos Tzikas and the Director General of the Air Operations Center, Brigadier General of the Portuguese Air Force Fernando Costa, held a discussion with General Hecker in which operational and organizational issues of the Allied Air Command and its dependent organizations were addressed.

After the visit to the Operations Room, the day was completed with a tour of the bunker, where General De la Cruz showed General Hecker the capacity and availability of the CAOCT to move to these facilities when determined by AIRCOM.




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 on which it depends and with the means 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).