The Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM), with support of the U.S. European Command, is set to take part in the Saber Guardian 17 (SG17) multinational exercise by deploying 8 servicemen of the engineers’ battalion, 40 members of the Military Police battalion, 14 members of the Special Purpose battalion and nine servicemen of the Balkan Medical Forces.
The exercise SG17 is taking place from June 23 to July 26 in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. ARM servicemen will be deployed in Romania and Hungary.
The military drill involves more than 25,000 service members from over 20 ally and partner nations. It is considered the largest of the Black Sea Region exercises. Saber Guardian 17 is led and organized by the U.S. Army Europe.
Attending a send-off ceremony in Skopje, Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska said the SG17 provided an excellent platform for exercises of the armed forces of participating countries, including Macedonia, in an attempt to build readiness and improve interoperability under a unified command, executing a full range of military missions to support the security and stability of the Black Sea Region.
“This exercise is a demonstration of the joined and common capabilities of allies and partners that guard the region’s security,” Sekerinska said at the ceremony.
She announced she would travel to Romania in mid-July to visit the Macedonian troops.
Once the exercise is completed, a squadron of nearly 300 members of the U.S. Army Europe with more than 100 vehicles and equipment from Romania via Bulgaria would arrive to Macedonia for the exercise Dragoon Guardian from July 28 to Aug. 8. The drill will be held at Krivolak military base, according to Sekerinska.
“We are particularly pleased with the fact that an army practicing high criteria, such as the U.S. Army, has chosen this particular army base, Krivolak, for an exercise. We have been trying to promote our capacities in the region and beyond. We are especially proud of our units which have been taking part in military exercises alongside our partners, the United States and other NATO countries,” Minister Sekerinska noted.
This investment in joint security and in Macedonia’s defense capacities, she added, will result in an improved Army, strengthened defense and the country’s membership to NATO.
U.S. Ambassador Jess Baily called the Saber Guardian exercise ‘a partnership in action.’
“Through exercises such as Saber Guardian, the United States reinforces ties with NATO allies and partners and reaffirms our enduring commitment to the collective defense and prosperity of Europe. Joint exercises improve the ability of countries to collaborate, communicate, and integrate across military platforms. More importantly, they build personal ties among soldiers and strengthen our commitment to each other,” Baily said addressing the event.
In 2016-2017 alone, he added, nearly 600 soldiers from Macedonia will participate in over 20 U.S.-sponsored, multinational exercises across Europe and here in Macedonia.
“This year, we are particularly pleased that following Saber Guardian, the United States and Macedonia will hold a joint training exercise, called Dragoon Guardian, in Macedonia,” the Ambassador said.
Nearly 300 soldiers and 100 vehicles from the U.S. Army Europe’s 2nd Cavalry Regimental Engineer Squadron, along with eight Engineers from the Army of Macedonia, will travel from Romania to Macedonia for a two-week joint training event for U.S. and Macedonian soldiers, he elaborated.
Currently, 39 Macedonian soldiers are deployed to the NATO Resolute Support Mission, where they support a training mission for the Afghan National Security Forces.
“There and elsewhere, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia has a great reputation, and we are proud of the close cooperation between our militaries, including your strong partnership with the Vermont National Guard. We will continue to identify opportunities for joint training here, in Europe, and in the United States as we strengthen our cooperation and as we support Macedonia’s path towards NATO membership,” concluded Baily.