COMUSAFE visits Portuguese defense officials Published Oct. 2, 2006 By Capt. Elizabeth Culbertson U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs LISBON, Portugal -- The commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe visited Portuguese defense officials to build relationships and tour facilities Sep. 29. During the trip, Gen. Tom Hobbins visited Monte Real Air Base, Alcochete Range and Lisbon's Ministry of Defense, where he met Admiral Jose Manuel Garcia Mendes Cabecadas, the Chief of Defense. General Hobbins said Portugal has been, and continues to be, a strong NATO ally to the United States. "We've had such a great relationship with your air force for so many years," the general said to officials at Monte Real AB. "So many of our pilots train together, not only here, but in the U.S.," he said. "You are contributing in Iraq and Afghanistan, you are contributing in the Congo and you are helping us in the war on terror. It is a great honor for me to come here to Portugal, to this base, to visit with you, to know who you are." At Monte Real AB, the general was met by the Honorable Alfred Hoffman, U.S. Ambassador to Portugal, and General Manuel Jose Taveira Martins, the Portuguese Air Force Chief of Staff. Both commented on the value of the trip. "General Hobbins' visit to Portugal, his visit to the Air Force and to the Falcon and Tiger squadrons, really did more to improve morale and respect for the relationship between our two countries than any other possible visit could have accomplished," said the ambassador. "We are very happy to welcome General Hobbins here," said General Martins. "Our forces cooperate and work together." General Hobbins' tour of the 201st and 301st squadrons at Monte Real AB energized the Portuguese Airmen, as the general handed out coins and praise. "We are so glad [General Hobbins] came by our squadron and looked at the pictures on the walls, because we are proud of all we have done," said Major Joao "Speedy" Goncalves, 201st squadron commander. "Everybody enthusiastically welcomed him, not only because he is the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, but because he is every pilot's pilot and the magnetism of his personality and the quality of his accomplishments has just done wonders to increase morale and strengthen the friendship between our two air forces," said the ambassador.