US military warmly welcomed ahead of NATO exercises in Albania
DURRES – Albanian main port of Durres this week hosted a huge influx of containers and large trucks ahead of NATO exercises, a concentration of military vehicles that US officials say has not been seen in the Adriatic nation since World War II.
Some 700 pieces of equipment from the 53rd Florida National Guard Infantry Fighting Brigade were unloaded from USNS Bob Hope in Durres, 33 kilometers (20 miles) west of the capital, Tirana. They will be used for two weeks of training involving up to 6,000 US troops at six Albanian military bases.
It is part of the U.S. Army-led Defender-Europe 21 multinational military exercises, which focus on deterring aggression and enhancing operational readiness with NATO and more allies and partners. They take place from May 17 to June 2.
“Albania is a valuable partner. Our troops benefit from training together, improving interoperability, readiness for operations and strengthening relationships, which allows us to respond to any crisis, anytime, with our allies and partners ” Germany-based US Army Europe and Africa Tammy Muckenfuss said on Saturday.
For Major Randall Moran, “bringing all these groups together is very unique”.
Divers were still checking the harbor’s 7-meter (23-foot) draft. But the two logistics support ships carrying the vehicles can operate in shallow water and worked nonstop to move military materiel.
A British military ship will also arrive in the coming days.
Defender-Europe this year involved approximately 28,000 US, allied and partner forces from 27 countries to conduct simultaneous operations in more than 30 training areas in more than a dozen countries, from the Baltic and African countries to the Black Sea. and the Balkans.
In addition to offering six naval, land and air bases, Albania, a member of NATO since 2009, will commit 1,000 troops to what Defense Minister Niko Peleshi has called “a historic event because it takes place. is the biggest exercise in Albania and the region ”.
US military officials praised Albania’s hospitality, good food and natural beauty.
Muckenfuss said: “Albania has been an incredible host and warmly welcomed all of our soldiers.”
“It’s a great choice for exercise,” said Moran. “I think you arrive more or less like a hidden gem. So that the people are great, the food delicious and the views beautiful. “
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