Search our content

Home  /  Newsroom  /  2021  /  Belgium takes over command of NATO’s Northern CAOC

 Sep 29 2021

Belgium takes over command of NATO’s Northern CAOC

RAMSTEIN, Germany - On Sep 28, General Jeff Harrigian, Commander of Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), handed over the command of NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Uedem, Germany, from outgoing Commander, German Lieutenant General Klaus Habersetzer to the incoming Commander, Belgian Major General Harold Van Pee.

"Lieutenant General Habersetzer's leadership for the past three years directly resulted in CAOC Uedem's outstanding support to NATO's air operations in the Baltics and the High North," said General Jeff Harrigian, the AIRCOM Commander, who officiated the Change of Command ceremony. He explained that Air Power in the Euro-Atlantic theatre remains essential to ensuring the safety and security of our Allies and partners. "We welcome Major General Van Pee back to the AIRCOM team and look forward to his experiences leading CAOC Uedem to face NATO's dynamic challenges," General Harrigian added.

Air Power in the Euro-Atlantic theatre remains essential to ensuring safety and security
"Faced with an increasingly competitive Russia, Air Policing of the NATO theatre of operations has never been more important or more demanding," said General Habersetzer in his remarks during the ceremony. "We have introduced 5th generation aircraft to the Air Policing mission, certified new Allied fighter detachments to Iceland, continued Air Policing of the Baltic States and contributed to enhanced Air Policing operating NATO bases in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. We can be truly proud of executing air operations and coordinating air and ground assets, particularly during the challenging circumstances we have seen these past 18 months," he added.

General Habersetzer commanded the CAOC for three years; during his tenure, NATO integrated modern F-35 fighter aircraft into Air Policing operations in Iceland and the Baltic States and Space became a new domain in the Alliance. He will remain at helm of the German Air Operations Command at Kalkar, Germany, until December, before he retires from the Bundeswehr after 44 years of military service.

Major General Van Pee joined the Belgian Air Force in 1984 and is an F-16 fighter pilot by trade. He knows CAOC Uedem from a tour here as the Division Head Combat Operations from 2012 to 2014. He recently led the programme office for the replacement of the Belgian Air Force fighter aircraft – which will be the F-35. Since 2019, he has been a senior advisor to the Belgian Chief of Defence.

NATO has two Combined Air Operations Centres – one at Uedem and one at Torrejón, Spain. The multinational CAOC staffs are responsible to plan, direct, task, coordinate, supervise and support air operations of allocated assets in peace, crisis and conflict. Routinely they are tasked to execute NATO's Air Policing mission closely cooperating with Control and Reporting Centres, National Air Policing Centres and dedicated Quick Reaction Alert air bases across their respective area of regional responsibility. They play an integral role in how the Alliance provides collective security to its Allies through effective and efficient NATO Air Policing.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

The official party arrives for the Change of Command Ceremony for NATO's northern Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany. Photo by Jessica Hagen.
General Jeff Harrigian, Commander Allied Air Command, passes the flag of Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem to incoming Commander, Belgian Air Force Major General Harold van Pee. Photo by Jessica Hagen.
General Harrigian, Commander Allied Air Command, incoming CAOC Commander, Major General van Pee and outgoing CAOC Commander Klaus Habersetzer. Photo by Jessica Hagen.

Search our content:


HQ Allied Air Command
Flugplatz Ramstein
66877 Ramstein-Miesenbach

Media Operations

Public Affairs Office
Building/Gebäude 313
66877 Ramstein-Miesenbach