Exercise Defender-Europe 21 exercise is a historic event because it is the largest exercise ever held in Albania and the region, said the Minister of Defense, Niko Peleshi who inspected on Thursday the temporary infrastructure for receiving troops in the military part of the international airport “Mother Teresa” observating measures against the spread of COVID-19.
“It is an exercise which gives important messages about the strategic significance of Albania and the role that our country has and will have in the future in all geopolitical developments, having very strong allies on its side,” said the minister.
As part of Exercise Defender-Europe 21
the military exercise in Albania started on Thursday with the participation of thousands of forces from the United States and military equipment of US Navy vessels which have rolled into the Albanian port of Durres since Monday.
Carrying the moniker Defender-Europe 21 to signify the year, this is the second exercise in the Defender-Europe series. When the inaugural Defender-Europe 20 took place last year, it was the first time in recent decades that the United States and its NATO allies conducted a large-scale military exercise across the Atlantic and Europe. The last time was during the “Return of Forces to Germany” exercises series known as Reforger and designed to protect Europe during the Cold War.
Defender-Europe 21 is a very large-scale multinational military exercise led by the United States Army Europe and Africa Command. These exercises are designed to improve military readiness and offer professional development opportunities for the participating countries and their militaries.
“We are a host country and will participate with around 1,000 active staff. Today I came with the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Major General Begaj, to see the entry point of the troops that will stay at Rinas. The necessary facilities are intact as the exercise continues. We will have very important visits in the coming days from NATO, from the European European Command, the NATO Supreme Operational Command, which, as I said, work on the importance and strategic messages of this exercise for the country, the region but also for the whole of Europe,” said Peleshi.
The exercises on this scale are the first in the Western Balkans since World War II, said US Colonel Joseph Scrocca.
He said that Albania is “a staunch NATO ally since 2009” and “a valued security partner, both in the region and globally.” /argumentum.al