Departure ceremony for 71 ARM members to take part in the multinational exercise “Saber Guardian 2017“

A departure ceremony was organized today for seventy one members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, which was attended by Minister of Defence Radmila Shekerinska, to see them off to the largest exercise in the Black Sea Region “Saber Guardian 2017“, an exercise that involves 25,000 service members of the armed forces of 22 countries, to be conducted on the territories of Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.

“As part of “Saber Guardian 17”, our soldiers will prove that the Macedonian army and its members can indeed participate together with NATO and partner nations in serious and complex exercises”, Minister Shekerinska stated after the ceremony. She said that the participation in the exercise will increase the preparedness of our forces and our interoperability with NATO and partner nations, adding that it will be an excellent opportunity for training of the armed forces of the participating nations for enhancing readiness and improving interoperability under a unified command by executing a full range of military missions to support the security and stability of the Black Sea Region.

The Minister said that during her last week’s participation in the meeting of Defence Ministers of NATO member states and NATO contributing nations, she briefly met with U.S. Secretary of Defence, James Mattis and Earle Litzenberger, Deputy and Acting Permanent Representative to NATO and Mr. Litzenberger, who was part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan expressed his gratitude to the Macedonian soldiers who protected the peace and security of the people and the mission itself. “Such information and statements demonstrate the importance of our participation in these missions and the importance of your engagement in spreading world peace and security and in promoting the Republic of Macedonia and its armed forces”, Minister Shekerinska said to the ARM members.

As an example of the excellent cooperation and relations with the U.S. European Command, the Minister also mentioned the next exercise that the ARM and the U.S. European Command, which is organizing the Saber Guardian exercise, will conduct at the largest Macedonian training Area Krivolak. “About 300 U.S. Army Europe service members, with over 100 engineering vehicles and equipment will go from Romania, though Bulgaria arriving to the Republic of Macedonia, where along with about one hundred members of the ARM from different branches will conduct the exercise Dragoon Guardian at our Training Area Krivolak in the period 28 July – 8 August – the Minister informed. She added that “we are especially happy with the fact that an army with outstanding high criteria, such as the U.S. Army, has chosen TA Krivolak to conduct this exercise, especially given the fact that we have been making efforts in the past period to promote our capacity in the region and beyond“.

“The fact that the ARM is entrusted with the most complex tasks speaks of the level of professionalism, preparedness and high level of enthusiasm of our service men” Minister Shekerinska concluded.

Deputy Chief of General Staff of the ARM, Major General Muhamet Racaj, said that the exercise “Saber Guardian 2017“aims to promote the stability and security in the Black Sea Region and improve partner capacities and mutual trust. “Allow me to thank you for the professionalism you have demonstrated throughout the execution of your tasks and obligations in the preparatory process and wish you successful conduct of the exercise“, General Racaj stated.

The Ambassador of the U.S. to Macedonia, Jess Baily, also addressed the audience and said that through exercises, such as “Saber Guardian 2017“, the U.S. reinforces ties with NATO allies and partners and reaffirms its enduring commitment to the collective defence 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 stated.