The US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa first theater security package arrived in Bulgaria recently where it will fly with NATO allies and support Operation Atlantic Resolve. The 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which is led by the Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing, is comprised of aircraft and airmen from units based in Florida, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and various bases in Europe, according to a May 11 command release. USAFE-AFAFRICA boss Gen. Frank Gorenc said the approximately 200 airmen and 12 F-15s serve as “a strategic symbol as they represent the United States’ commitment to European security and stability.” Bulgarian Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev acknowledged the “effort and resources it takes to be deployed here” and thanked USAFE-AFAFRICA and “Gen. Gorenc, because you are here again, and our joint training continues.” He said the Bulgarian Air Force “is an inseparable part” of NATO in large part “because of these trainings.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.