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Criminals may run, but can they hide from two F-16 fighters?
Dutch police officers in pursuit of an armed suspect got some unexpected help in January when an airforce base scrambled two jet pilots on a routine training flight.
Officers had requested the use of a military jeep to continue the chase over rough terrain, said airforce spokesman Olav Spanjer. Instead, the fighters - armed with infrared cameras - were assigned to the search.
A tipoff from a suspicious neighbor eventually led police to their man, rather than the high-tech aircraft. Yet the incident highlights the transformation that has taken place in European defense.
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"European countries today no longer face state-level security threats, but threats exist in society," said Wang Peiran, a visiting scholar on European security at Vrije Universiteit in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
Extremism, terrorism and crime are major problems in the region, he said, pointing out that police forces today play a much larger role than the military in making Europeans feel safe and secure.
European defense has been in the spotlight since the start of this year, not only because of the change in threat, but because the United States recently announced plans to withdraw troops from the region.
The move is the result of a shift in the US focus to Asia, particularly the Asia-Pacific region.
For the European Union, which has more uniformed personnel than the US, as well as higher defense spending than Russia and China, the days of freeloading off the US military are now over.
Washington's latest defense strategy, the first indication since the end of World War II that European security is no longer a top priority, has caused much debate.