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NATO secretary-general visits Poland

The new NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to a crowd of NATO allies Oct. 6, 2014, at Lask Air Base, Poland. During the visit, the secretary-general stressed the continued dedication to NATOs strong alliance. He also thanked the NATO allies in attendance to include the United States, Canada, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, France and Germany in addition to all NATO partners for their dedication to the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Donner)

The new NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to a crowd of NATO allies Oct. 6, 2014, at Lask Air Base, Poland. During the visit, the secretary-general stressed the continued dedication to NATOs strong alliance. He also thanked the NATO allies in attendance to include the United States, Canada, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, France and Germany in addition to all NATO partners for their dedication to the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Eric Donner)

LASK AIR BASE, Poland -- The new NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visited Lask Air Base, Poland, Oct. 6, to express his gratitude to NATO partners for their on-going dedication to the security of the region and commitment to NATO.

"We come together to deliver one clear common message, that NATO is here to protect all allies," Stoltenberg said. "This is what NATO is all about, strong solidarity and strong defense."

The secretary-general continued to stress the lasting dedication to NATO's diplomatic and military partnerships.

"We face great challenges to the east and to the south, so we must keep NATO strong as a political alliance and as a military alliance," said Stoltenberg. "Thank you for your steadfast commitment to the mission."

While visiting the base, he met with U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment Airmen and other NATO partners to include Poland, Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany.

U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Winkler, 52nd Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Jack Harman, Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group commander, were on hand for the event. In a Stars and Stripes article on the event, Harman said NATO's forward presence "lets them know we are here, [and] we are ready."

Stoltenberg also spoke on the importance of implementing plans from the NATO Wales summit held last month, ensuring that NATO stays ready for all contingences.

"We need to implement the plans in full and on time," Stoltenberg said. "The readiness action plan will ensure that we can respond even faster to fast moving crises, with a spirituous force that can deploy within days."

Winkler confirmed the Secretary General's statement and added that U.S. and Polish air forces have partnered over the past two years, perfecting their warfighting techniques and procedures to the point where "you almost can't tell the difference between their pilots and ours...the F-16s are ready to respond to contingencies if called upon."

The Secretary General concluded his visit by thanking NATO allies for their continued service to the NATO mission.

"Thank you all very much and all your comrades for what you are doing," said Stoltenberg. "I am very privileged and proud to meet you and I wish you the best luck in your missions."