U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Portugal, stopping in the Azores and Lisbon, for two full days of meetings with Portuguese defense leadership, July 11-12. During the visit they discussed the U.S. continued commitment to maintaining Lajes Field, the transfer of F-16 aircraft to NATO partners, exchanged ideas and concerns on military priorities and collaboration on Counter-ISIL operations, and committed to future engagements between our countries to ensure the NATO Alliance.
In Lisbon, Secretary James first met with Ambassador Sherman and Country team to discuss US security matters. She then visited the Portuguese Air Force Headquarters where she met Portuguese Air Force Chief of Staff General Manuel Teixeira Rolo. During the afternoon, Secretary James visited the Armed Forces Headquarters, and held meetings with the Minister of Defense José Alberto Azeredo Lopes, Portuguese Chief of Defense General Artur Neves Pina Montiero, Ministry of Defense National Defense Director General Nuno Pinheiro Torres, and MFA Ambassador Francisco Duarte Lopes.
During the visit to the Azores, Secretary James was able to see first-hand the important transport and refueling operations and meet with U.S. service members stationed at Lajes Air Base and with the Portuguese employees.
Secretary James noted about the visit that “I had very helpful conversations with Defense Minister Alberto and General Pina Monteiro about the continued collaboration with Portugal to address common security interests, ensure inoperability, and develop niche capabilities based on UN and NATO priorities. It was a good opportunity to meet with our Portuguese counterparts and discuss our very broad and important bilateral agenda. We look forward to strengthening an already positive relationship between our Air Forces and militaries, and to joint collaboration on a range of security and defense issues.”
Secretary James’ visit to Portugal is the first stop of a regional tour to advance security cooperation of the United States and discuss ongoing cooperation among our allied air forces throughout the region.
Secretary James took the office of Secretary of the Air Force in 2013. As the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force, she is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 690,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families.
Secretary James was accompanied by Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs Heidi H. Grant during her visit to Portugal.
While in Lisbon Secretary James took the opportunity to visit the Veterans Museum, as well as the historic monuments in Belém.
Photos of the visit are available here: http://ow.ly/GiQi302eReS