***image1***by Maj. Dave Honchul
3rd Air Force Public Affairs
The 3rd Air Force hosted a delegation of counterparts from a European partner – visiting officers from Bulgaria, a former Warsaw Pact country.
Over the three-day visit, 3rd Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop hosted Lt. Gen. Simeon Simeonov, the Bulgarian Air Force commander. The two sought to strengthen the partnership between the two air services as well as interoperability, as Bulgaria progresses as a new partner nation in NATO.
“That’s exactly why I feel 3rd Air Force is here,” General Bishop said. “We’re here to build friendships and strengthen those partnerships with our allies in Europe.”
The generals visited units at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom; Spangdahlem; and Ramstein.
Throughout the visit, the Bulgarians saw how the Air Force operates.
“Working on interoperability of our forces is vitally important,” General Bishop said. “However, most people make the mistake of thinking it’s just making sure our equipment is able to ‘talk’ to each other. It’s much more than that. It includes understanding how each other operates and the procedures each follows to undertake the mission. It’s especially true of a country like Bulgaria.”
The procedures that they operated under during the Warsaw Pact were dramatically different from the procedures we operate under as part of NATO, General Bishop said. It’s important for the U.S. to assist in Bulgaria’s transition, so that they can become the full NATO partner that they desire to be.
This was the third time the 3rd Air Force hosted a delegation of counterparts from a European partner.