SACEUR Statement to the Media
Today marks a historic first for NATO. Today, for the first time in the organization's 52-year history, assets are being made available to the continental United States, on their request, in support of Article 5 operations. Two of a total of five NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft - the AWACS - began deploying today to the United States from our base in Geilenkirchen, Germany. The remaining aircraft will follow in the next few days.
These NATO aircraft, manned by multinational crews from 12 NATO nations, provide a critical air surveillance and early warning capability in operations. This deployment will directly support those aircraft under the command of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD for short, by providing assets required to support the global campaign against terrorism.
In addition, NATO naval assets presently on exercise off the coast of Spain were re-assigned today to a new mission. Effective immediately, the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED), consisting of nine ships from eight NATO countries, will set sail to provide an allied military presence in the eastern Mediterranean and to demonstrate our resolve.
These two actions underline the unwavering commitment of the 19 NATO nations to fight terrorism. Of course, we stand ready to provide any additional support requested by the United States, on order of the North Atlantic Council.
I am now prepared to take your questions.