European Western Balkans

Albania will host “Defender Europe 2023” military exercise

NATO headquarters in Brussels; Photo: NATO

TIRANA – Albania will be one of the hosts of the “Defender Europe 2023” military exercise this year, the Albanian Ministry of Defense announced.

Exercise “Defender Europe” is an annual, multinational, joint large-scale US-led large-scale exercise designed to build preparedness and interoperability between the United States, NATO, and Partner countries.

Exercise “Defender Europe 2023” will be held in the summer of 2023 at several locations across Europe. In addition to the representatives of the Balkan Medical Task Force, representatives from over 30 partner and allied countries also took part in the Initial Planning Conference in March last year.

In October last year, Albanian Defense Minister noted that thousands of troops and military vehicles will return to Albania after the successful exercise Defender Europea 2021.

“Defender 2021 was an extraordinary story of challenges and successes, not only for the Armed Forces but for the entire Albanian state. Our great experience and commitment are set to bring back to Albania. As exercises that go beyond military dimensions, we have already started preparations to host Defender 2023 and thousands of our allied forces led by the United States”, declared Peleshi.

On that occasion, US ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim hailed “Defender” as a “historic moment and as “a landmark in Albania’s commitment to regional security and to fulfilling its NATO obligations, adding that the upcoming drills will serve to take a step further.

“The terms ‘historic’ is thrown around quite a lot but it is really the only word that we can use to describe the exercise that we can use to describe the exerice that we are about to undertake that we have undertaken this year. It encompasses an extremely ambitious se of exercises. The fact that we have over 30 countries participating here this week shows that our goal of operating together on the ground, at sea, or in the air is not just advantageous but it is an achievement”, said Kim.

Two years ago, Albania was one of the organizers of the “Defender Europe 2021” exercise, in which 30,000 American soldiers participated. Around 28,000 U.S., allied and partner forces from 26 nations will conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in more than a dozen nations from the Baltics and Africa to the critical Black Sea and Balkan regions.

Defense Minister Armend Mehaj announced today that the Kosovo Security Forces will participate in the “Defender Europe 2023” exercise with more than 1,300 members.

Mehaj pointed out on Facebook that Pristina will be one of the hosts of the exercise, which is organized by the US Army for Europe and Africa, with the help of the allied forces of 25 NATO countries and their partners, Mehaj said.

“The KSF planning team, together with the team of the US forces and other allied forces, is conducting the final four-day conference on the planning of the ‘Defender of Europe 23’ exercise in Budapest,” Mehaj said.

Although it is a regular exercise of NATO member states and partners, Serbian pro-government media reported the news that Albania will be one of the hosts of this year’s exercise as the arrival of American forces in Albania. “American troops will flood Albania” is just one of the headlines that appeared in Serbian tabloids.

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