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Periodista del EMAD

Official visit of the Commander of CAOC Torrejon to Albania

In Albania
March 7, 2024
  • Lieutenant General Juan Pablo Sanchez de Lara represents AIRCOM at the inauguration of the new Atlantic Alliance air base in Kuçova (Albania)

The Commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón (CAOCTJ), Lieutenant General Juan Pablo SAnchez de Lara, paid an official visit to Albania from 3 to 5 March.

The main reason for the visit was to represent NATO Air Command at the inauguration of the new facilities at Kuçova Air Base, south of the capital Tirana, on 4 March. This base, which housed several fighter squadrons during its operational life, has been completely refurbished to NATO standards to make it a staging and transit facility for missions and exercises.

In his address to the audience, which included the highest political and military authorities of the Balkan country, General Sanchez de Lara stressed the importance of NATO's values, especially those of solidarity, cohesion and mutual trust, which are the way in which the alliance functions and has functioned during its 75 years of existence. In this way, peace and protection are provided to member states, with all the difficulties and challenges that this entails. Albania is a clear example of this. With no fighter aircraft since 2005, it relies on its NATO partners to guarantee the sovereignty and integrity of its airspace.

As a follow-up to the visit, and as part of his duties as head of NATO's southern flank air defense, General SAnchez de Lara was received the following day by the Chief of Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces, Major General Arben Kingji. In this meeting, General Kingji expressed his gratitude for the Allied countries' contribution to the defense of his country and went on to discuss various issues related to Albania's contribution to NATO's aerospace missions and exercises.

To conclude the visit, and before flying back to Spain, the CAOCTJ commander had the opportunity to learn more about the work of the Albanian Air Force, visiting its Headquarters. General Sanchez de Lara received a full presentation on the state of Albanian aviation, as well as its future plans, and also visited the CRC (Control and Reporting Centre) in Tirana, located very close to the headquarters itself. This CRC is operationally dependent on the CAOCTJ.

Albania is one of the countries represented in the CAOCT. It is located in the Western Balkans, an area of great interest to NATO. With the inauguration of the new base in Kuçova, the Atlantic Alliance is demonstrating its trust in and commitment to this nation. It is an important step towards the full integration of this country into the organization’s regular activities, as intensive use of these facilities is foreseen in the coming years.


The primary role of CAOCTJ, under the direct command of a Spanish Lieutenant General of the Air and Space Army, is to plan, direct, coordinate, supervise, analyze, and report on air defense operations in southern Europe. It follows the directives of NATO's Air Component Command, on which it depends, and carries them out with the resources allocated by nations to NATO during peacetime.

The Spanish Armed Forces make an important contribution to the mission carried out by this centre. Approximately 120 Spanish military personnel are currently serving in the CAOCT, as well as in the National Support Element (NSE) and the NATO Communications and Information Agency Unit (NCIA).