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Strong Balkans 2023 – NATO Special Forces Maneuvers in Albania

As part of the Strong Balkans 2023 exercise, special forces from seven NATO nations exercised together in Albania. The military alliance announced this in a series of announcements. The exercise, which was divided into two phases, began on October 31 and ended on November 10, 2023.

Strong Balkan is an exercise that has been carried out annually since 2011 and is based on an initiative of the BCHOD (Balkan Countries Chiefs of Defense / General Staffs) Forum founded in 2007. This year, Albania, which joined NATO in 2009, hosted the series of exercises for the first time. In addition to the special forces of the host country, special military units from Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Turkey and, in an observer role, forces from the NATO partner country Bosnia Herzegovina also took part. On the sidelines of the exercise, Albanian Defense Minister Niko Peleshi commented on the goals of the project. Accordingly, the focus is on increasing interoperability between the special forces in the Balkan region through joint training and the continued exchange of experiences.

According to the announcement, during the first phase, skills were deepened through training, both for individual operators and in a group setting. The focus was on shooting training, access techniques, urban warfare and air loading operations. In the second part, the capabilities were tested in scenarios and newly established standard procedures (SOPs) were validated. After landing, the multinational special forces interacted as a group by parachuting or fast-roping against an opponent who was in building complexes or who was trying to escape with vehicles.

In his statement, Minister Peleshi emphasized the importance of the special forces in NATO for the security of the Balkan countries. This has become particularly significant due to the war in Ukraine and the increased threat from Russia since 2022.

Source : soldat und technik