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Allies Will Protect, Defend Every Inch of NATO Territory, Says Secretary General

March 3, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited U.S. troops at Lask Airbase, Poland Monday.

In a press conference after the visit, Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin has shattered the peace in Europe.

"The Russian assault is totally unacceptable. And, it is enabled by Belarus," he said.

Soldiers stand in formation.
Polish Soldiers
Polish Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Air Defense Rocket Brigade and U.S. Soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment hold a closing ceremony for the Poland phase of exercise Saber Strike 22 on Feb. 26, 2022, at BPTA, Poland.
Photo By: Army Maj. Robert Fellingham
VIRIN: 220226-A-KM584-074

"We welcome the leading role of Poland," Stoltenberg said, noting that Poland has opened its border to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict.

NATO will always stand together, he said, mentioning that fighter jets from the United States are now flying alongside the Polish Air Force, keeping the skies over NATO nations safe 24/7.

French troops are arriving in Romania, as well, Stoltenberg noted.

NATO's commitment to Article 5 is iron-clad, he said, referring to the alliance's collective security defense.

A soldier works inside a military vehicle
Weapons System
U.S. Army Pfc. Jack Potter, a gunner assigned to 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, places a trainer Stinger weapon system inside a Maneuver Short Range Air Defense Stryker prototype at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Feb. 25, 2022.
Photo By: National Guard Army Spc. Olivia Gum
VIRIN: 220225-Z-HJ056-1212
Pilot gazes from an open cockpit.
Eagle Pilot
U.S. Air Force Capt. Garret Womack, an F-15 C Eagle pilot assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, performs pre-flight checks before departing Łask Air Base, Poland, Feb. 28, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jacob Albers
VIRIN: 220228-F-TL453-0431

Later in the day, Stoltenberg and U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, visited NATO's multinational battlegroup in Tapa, Estonia. They were joined by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Wolters thanked Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas for hosting U.S., U.K. and other NATO forces in her nation.

The general noted that rigorous military training has enabled U.S. forces to be confident, responsive, resilient, competent and capable in whatever tasks are asked of them.

An aircraft lands on a flightline.
C-130J Hercules
A U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft from Ramstein Air Base lands at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, Feb. 28, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Megan M. Beatty
VIRIN: 220228-F-YM277-1078C

"We thank you for what you are doing today," Wolters told the troops in Estonia. "You are protecting the sovereignty of our NATO nations and our territories and we're in the business of generating peace."

At a press conference with Johnson and Kallas, Stoltenberg said: "Our message to President Putin is: Stop the war. Pull out all your forces from Ukraine and engage in good faith in diplomatic efforts. The world stands with Ukraine."

He also stressed that allies will protect and defend every inch of NATO territory, and thanked Johnson for doubling the U.K. troop presence in the NATO battlegroup.