RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany: A flag ceremony marking the accession of Croatia and Albania as the 27th and 28th members of NATO was held April 8 at Allied Air Component Command Headquarters Ramstein.

Gen. Roger A. Brady, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and NATO Allied Air Component Command at Ramstein officiated the ceremony with Air Marshal David Walker, AACC deputy commander; Maj. Gen. Jon Abma, AACC chief of staff; and Warrant Officer Tim van der Logt, AACC senior noncommissioned officer.

A six-member allied color guard detail composed of Belgian, Dutch, Polish and U.S. airmen hoisted the two flags to complete a formation of 28 flag poles that stand outside the AACC headquarters building that was constructed in April 2005.

The two Balkan states formally joined the alliance April 1 in Washington. The NATO Alliance began in 1949 with 12 states and has increased its membership to 28 countries through six rounds of enlargement. The last countries to gain acceptance as allied partners were Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in December 2002.

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