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NATO exercise is held in Balkan countries

NATO exercise is held in Balkan countries

The big military exercise, which begins on May 22, will take place in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Slovenia.

It will include 9,800 soldiers, of which 7,000 will be soldiers from these countries plus from Turkey and from Greece. The US is deploying 2,800 troops.

The training that will see army ranges across the Balkan countries brimming with activities, will include combined-arms training from forces at land, air and sea, and live-fire exercises.

Citizens of several Balkan countries over the weekend and on Monday have had an opportunity to see displays of military equipment being used for the NATO “Immediate Response” military exercise.

“Immediate Response 23” is the second of three connected exercises making up the so-called, Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness 2023 Exercise, or DEFENDER 23.

DEFENDER 23 will see the participation of 24,000 soldiers of the armed forces of the 25 NATO member countries and partner countries.

At the opening ceremony on Sunday, in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, the US ambassador to Kosovo, Jeff Hovenier, said that the exercise was important in reassuring NATO allies and partner countries in the light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

One of the goals of the exercise, he said, “is to demonstrate the ability of US military forces to quickly deploy combat-ready troops and equipment to reassure allies, deter those who might threaten peace in Europe and protect this continent from aggression”.

Kosovo is participating in the exercise as a partner country, committing some 1,700 troops to it.

In Croatia, exercises will be performed at the “Josip Jovic” military camp in Udbina and the “Eugen Kvaternik” military training ground near Slunj.

As part of the preparations, last Thursday, two Croatian navy ships, Cetina and Krka, entered the port of Gazenica in Zadar with US military vehicles that had been transported from the Montenegrin port of Bar. After arriving at Zadar, the vehicles were filled with fuel and delivered to the camp in Udbina.

In neighbouring Montenegro, activities are set to begin at the army camp near the small town of Pljevlja.

North Macedonia is to host the participating troops at its biggest army range of Krivolak, where rapid deployment of combat ready troops, air support and firing exercises will be performed, among other things.

Locals in Kumanovo, in North Macedonia, at the weekend saw a display of US and North Macedonian army equipment that included helicopters and armoured vehicles.

Bulgaria will participate by hosting two combat shooting trainings. They will be carried out until May 29 in the Novo Selo training ground near Blagoevgrad as well as in the Koren ground near Pleven.

Bulgarian soldiers, as well as soldiers from other Balkan countries, will also take part in Wet Gap Grossing trainings in Bordushani, Romania, that will be conducted in May and June.

In Albania, the training part kicks off next week but on Monday, the people of Tirana were invited to watch a display of Albanian and US weaonry at the city’s Nene Tereza Square as part of a Distinguished Visitors Day activity.

“Immediate Response 23” is scheduled to run through to June 2.

Source: Balkan Insight