Asked what his analysis of Russia’s recent withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty means for US Air Forces in Europe and NATO efforts, USAFE boss Gen. Tom Hobbins told a Capitol Hill crowd that he plans to continue with business as usual. Military to military relations between USAFE and Russia are “very, very strong” right now, he noted, and downplayed the encirclement fears that the Kremlin has been touting. “There is a great fear by the Russians about NATO encirclement,” Hobbins said. “When we look at the types of facilities we’re building, we’re not a threat to the Russians,” he said. NATO is using the facilities primarily for training activities, he explained, adding that his command continues to look for more ways to exercise together, to build relationships and leverage strengths. Hobbins said he recently spoke with the Russian air chief about ways to cooperate, particularly regarding a Russian strength—military airlift.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.