The Defender-Europe 2021 military exercise took place on Thursday at the central training ground of the Slovenian Army in Poček. In addition to Prime Minister Janez Janša and Defence Minister Matej Tonin, it was also visited by the Commander of the US Forces in Europe, General Tod D. Wolters, and the leader of the exercise in Slovenia, the Commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc.
“An extremely complex exercise was shown, which may seem simple at first glance, but given the number of elements involved, the exercise was complex, so that everything worked in harmony, as it should. With this, the Slovenian Army also showed a high level of preparedness and all those who viewed the exercise, including the General Assembly, assessed the exercise as excellently performed, extremely good. I am glad that it shows how well prepared the Slovenian Army is,” Minister Matej Tonin commented on the military exercise.
Around two thousand members of the Slovenian Armed Forces usually take part in the exercises in Slovenia, and an additional 250 are being trained abroad. Around 600 members of the allied and partner armies are also present in Slovenia. A series of Defender-Europe 2021 exercises called Star Knight, Adriatic Strike, and Immediate Response are taking place in Slovenia between the 17th and 22nd of May, and members of the Slovenian Armed Forces are also taking part in military exercises in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Germany.
Minister Tonin also announced the revival of the Slovenian Armed Forces, both in terms of equipment as well as preparedness. “We are at the beginning of the modernisation process, for which human resources and finances are key. A stable source of funding is provided. Once again, I warmly invite all young people to join the ranks of the Slovenian Army this year,” he said. He also recalled the end of NATO’s long-standing mission in Afghanistan. He thanked all the members. “Therefore, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the 1,400 soldiers who have served in the mission in Afghanistan in these long 17 years for their service and, above all, for their contribution to a better Afghanistan. The Slovenian Army has carried out 60 different projects funded by Slovenia. These projects touched on Afghan education, health and women’s empowerment. It was not in vain.”
The Commander of the American Forces in Europe praised Slovenia’s exceptional enthusiasm
The Commander of the American Forces in Europe, General Tod D. Wolters, said that with the exercise, Slovenia had shown that it was willing to take on leading roles in the Alliance and to contribute equally to collective security. “On behalf of NATO, I would like to thank you for being willing to be such a large part of the solution. You did not just do one big exercise; you did two. The Star Warrior and the Immediate Response. As military leaders and the Army itself knows, this is a difficult and demanding task.”
The Defender-Europe exercise is a preparation for possible aggression
The purpose of the Defender-Europe 2021 military exercise is to prepare the military forces for possible aggression. The exercise will take place over several weeks in several European countries. “As many people know, the exercise will last for several weeks. Its sole purpose is to improve the readiness of our armed forces to deter the enemy and defend their land,” Wolters added. According to Wolters, Slovenia remains a factor of stability in the region. “Let me thank your great nation at the end. Since 2004, Slovenia has been a scout for security and a creator of peace. And when we look at this exercise and when we look at the security that this nation, this region, Europe enjoys, we can say that Slovenia is strong.”
Minister Tonin said that “NATO appreciates our commitment to the Alliance, despite the fact that we have mostly lagged behind the set goals. Now we have the opportunity to fix that and equip and train our Army.”
The media were also addressed by the Commander of the exercise, Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc, who sees such exercises as an opportunity for the alliances to become even more connected and train in order to deter any possible attack. “Unity, solidarity and cohesion in the Alliance are key in the political field, and in the military field, the key values are cooperation, connection, integration and, above all, hard training and joint exercises. These are the basic conditions for us to dominate the battlefield if necessary and ensure victory,” he stressed.