US Air Force chief on Estonia visit
United States Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein is in Estonia over the weekend, meeting with defense leaders and attending the Ämari air show.
Gen. Goldfein met defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) at the defense ministry in Tallinn on Saturday, when Baltic Sea region security, defense cooperation, and international security were all on the table.
"US presence in the Baltic Sea region has a significant deterrent effect, which is why I consider active participation by the USAF in training exercises taking place in Estonia crucial," Luik said, according to BNS.
The meeting noted that cooperation between Baltic countries and the integration of different systems is of key importance in bolstering Estonian air defense, thus explaining extensive U.S. investment into Ämari Air Base to boost its capacity for hosting aircraft in the event of a crisis.
Goldfein reaffirmed the U.S.' ironclad commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, and voiced appreciation of defense spending in Estonia remaining at 2 percent of GDP, which has not been the case across the board among NATO member states.
Air and missile defense, as well as the current situation regarding Iran, and recent incidents in the Persian Gulf, were also on the table, it is reported.
Gen. Goldfein also met his Estonian Air FOrce counterpart, Col. Riivo Valge, Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) chief Maj. Gen. Martin Herem, chief of Cyber Command Col. Andres Hairk, and the head of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE), Col. Jaak Tarien.
The USAF chief also attended the air show at Ämari base, marking the Estonian Air Force's centenary.
"Estonia has an Air Force 100 years old, one which is appreciated by friends and allies alike. The chief of the USAF, representative of the world's most powerful air force ... has specially taken the time to come and congratulate one of the smallest air forces in the world. This is a great honor and recognition for our contribution to NATO," Valge said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte