Italy’s Task Force “Gladiator” completed their eight-month enhanced Air Policing mission in Romania, which concluded with a ceremony held at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airport on August 3. Attending the prestigious ceremony was Lieutenant General Achille Cazzaniga, Head of the Operations Department of the Italian Joint Operational Command (COVI), and Romania’s Secretary of State for Defence Mrs. Simona Cojocaru who reflected on the busy Enhanced Air Policing period. During the period of Dec 1, 22 to July 31, 23, Task Force “Gladiator” flew over 1700 flight hours to support the defence of the Romanian skies, responding to numerous Quick Reaction Alerts whilst also participating in multiple NATO exercises, including Dacian Strike, Air Defender and Neptune Strike.
Lieutenant General Achille Cazzaniga addressed the men and women of the Italian Task Force, “It was a demanding and very formative mission both from a personal and from a professional point of view. Bring home the experience gained, pass on the lessons learned to those who have not had this opportunity and be bearers of the highest values ??of the Air Force, as we have been doing for 100 years now…”. And, to Col. Massara, Commander of the TFA-R Gladiator “…my personal thanks for the work done, you worked well and you were appreciated. Well done Antonino, your contribution to the security of NATO’s skies has been of fundamental importance”.
Close Air Support missions were also flown in support of an international Joint Terminal Attack Controller component, as well as training and integration with artillery fire, Personnel Recovery exercises in conjunction with rotary wing assets from the Host Nation and the US. Lieutenant General Viorel PAN?, Chief of Staff of the Romanian Air Force, underlined that the Russian aggression in Ukraine has increased the risks and threats for Europe and NATO, therefore, cooperation through enhanced Air Policing and enhanced Vigilance Activity operations, have become of fundamental importance for Collective Defence within the Alliance.
Enhanced Air Policing aims to strengthen the NATO collective defence in countries directly facing the eastern flank, sending a strong message that NATO remains united from east to west and north to south and ready to deter and, if necessary, defend its territory against any aggression or threat of aggression. As part of these Assurance Measures, NATO’s Air Policing mission is enhanced across two Implementation Areas. Enhanced Air Policing is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures introduced in 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of the Crimean peninsula. In the South, Romania’s and Bulgaria’s national Air Policing capabilities are and have been temporarily augmented by detachments from various Allied Air Forces.