Portuguese American Journal

Terceira: Lajes Base to play crucial role in ongoing global conflicts – Azores

Lajes Base, strategically positioned on Terceira Island in the Azores, holds significant value for United States national security and NATO, given the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Europe.

This importance was recently highlighted by US Ambassador to Portugal, Randi Charno Levine, during a conference held by the Açoriano Oriental newspaper on São Miguel Island.

Ambassador Levine emphasized the pivotal role of the Azores in global security strategies, stating, “It’s very clear that from a security point of view, the Azores have been and will continue to be of strategic importance.”

Amid increasing global tensions, Lajes Base has seen a considerable investment, with an annual allocation of $23 million, “the highest funding since 2006”  Ambassador Levine revealed.

Lajes Base, staffed by 164 US military personnel and supported by 420 Portuguese civilians, is the site for the US Air Force and hosts the 65th Air Base Group, which supports the Department of Defense and plays a crucial role in NATO operations.

Ambassador Levine reiterated the long-standing recognition of the Azores’ strategic importance, stating that their value to national security and NATO has been consistently acknowledged. Portugal, a founding member of NATO since 1949, has played an active role within the Alliance.

The historic ties between the United States and Portugal date back to 1791 when Portugal recognized the United States as an independent nation after the Revolutionary War. The US Consulate, in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel, is the oldest continuously operating US Consulate in the world.

Significant Portuguese communities of Azorean heritage in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Hawaii reflect the deep cultural and historical bonds between the two countries.

Ambassador Randi Charno Levine was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate in April 2022.



The Azores (population 250,000) is a region of Portugal composed of nine islands. The archipelago discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, became an Autonomous Region of Portugal in 1976. The government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores includes the Legislative Assembly, composed of 57 elected deputies, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term; the Regional Government and Presidency, with parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a President, a Vice-President and seven Regional Secretaries responsible for the Regional Government executive operations. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is represented in the Council of Ministers of the Central Government by a representative appointed by the President of Portugal. According to the latest US census over 1.3 million individuals of Portuguese descent live in the United States, the majority with roots in the Azores. It is estimated that over 20,000 US citizens live in Portugal.

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