NATO Secretary General visits the Florida Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jaclyn Lyons
  • 125th Fighter Wing
The 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, was the first stop on a short tour of three U.S. military installations yesterday for NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.  Stoltenberg was greeted by Brig. Gen. James Eifert, Commander of the Florida Air National Guard, Col. Brian Simpler, Commander of the 125th Fighter Wing and Mayor of Jacksonville Alvin Brown.  He was then given a detailed brief about the role of the National Guard in the military and, in particular, the mission of the Florida Air National Guard.

Col. Simpler explained the Quick Reaction Alert mission of securing the skies of the southeastern United States by having F-15 aircraft on standby to intercept and identify unknown aircraft or objects penetrating U.S. sovereign airspace.

"With the F-15, we call it air dominance," he said. "Our job is to gain and maintain air superiority over the battlefield."

Simpler also explained how the 125th Fighter Wing is the first Air National Guard unit to deploy in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a demonstration of continued U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO allies.  There are currently about 200 Airmen and 12 F-15 fighters deployed to eastern Europe. 

Stoltenberg was able to see an F-15 up close and speak to Airmen from across the base.  He stressed the importance of the mission both at home and abroad and thanked the Airmen for their service.

"It has been a great visit because I have seen how the United States and the Florida Guard are contributing to the security of Europe, North America and trans-Atlantic cooperation," Stoltenberg said. "It has been great to see and meet personnel here at the base and I am impressed by the quality and professionalism of the people."

Stolteneberg later went on to tour Naval Station Kings Bay and Naval Station Mayport for a look at other aspects of military missions before heading back to Europe.

"He is here for less than 24 hours to see the entire U.S. military components and we represent the conventional forces in that enterprise," Simpler explained. "It has been a great honor."