SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
U.S. Air Force Airmen participated in a Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty exercise here, Oct. 24, 2019, to verify readiness in the event of a short-notice CFE inspection.
Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing escorted an exercise inspection team from Romania, members of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and members of the German Verification Agency, to exercise an inspection of facilities throughout the installation.
“The wing is required to conduct a full-scale CFE exercise annually,” said Michael Mench, 52nd FW treaty compliance officer.
During an inspection, the teams must be permitted access to any facility on the installation with an entryway measuring two meters or more in width, to include containers that measure two meters or more along all dimensions. The 52nd FW must account for all treaty-limited equipment here, including combat aircraft in transit or equipment on cargo aircraft.
“The CFE Treaty was developed during the later stages of the Cold War in order to ease tension and provide transparency of military operations in the European theater,” Mench said. “The numbers of major warfighting equipment were greatly reduced while still allowing for a robust defense. Ceilings on the numbers of warfighting equipment that can be placed in certain areas were designed to prevent surprise offensive buildups.”
The treaty limits the number of battle tanks, artillery pieces, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters each participating state party can have within the European Area of Application. The 52nd FW’s F-16 Fighting Falcons count toward the aircraft limit, and therefore the wing is susceptible to a real-world inspection with as little as 43 hours’ notice.
The annual exercise is an important part of the 52nd FW’s mission.
“Treaties are international law and as such, the wing must always be prepared to show we are in compliance,” Mench said. “At the same time, we must be prepared to protect operational security while a foreign inspection team is conducting an inspection. The full-scale annual exercise helps make sure the 52nd FW is prepared to demonstrate ‘compliance without compromise.’”