More than 2,700 troops from Macedonia, the United States, Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Lithuania today started the largest and most complex military exercise at the Krivolak military training centre. From today until July the 9th, troops from the six countries will have to carry out joint operations with ground and air forces, combined operations of conventional troops, special forces and combat operations on urban terrain.

“You have worked hard and planned carefully for all this to come together. It took many hours and days of consultation and coordination with the US Army for Europe and the National Guard of Pennsylvania. But “Decisive Strike” is finally happening. What an impressive accomplishment”, said Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje.

The extent of the preparations was pointed out by the director of the exercise, Lt. Igor Manasovski. His team of 80 ARM planners and the US Ground Forces spent 55 days and 660 hours preparing the exercise.

“While we prepare to welcome North Macedonia as the 30th NATO member, it is convenient that “Decisive Strike” is taking place here, at Krivolak, in the Republic of North Macedonia. This exercise is a powerful example of how your military forces are preparing to become a force in NATO, ready to work with NATO allied armies and tackle future threats. It is also proof that North Macedonia already contributes to the Alliance”, said Schweitzer-Bluhm at the opening ceremony for the exercise at the Krivolak Training Center.

Deputy Defense Minister Bekim Maksuti said that the exercise once again confirms the fact that Macedonia is ready and has the capacities and experience to organize a complex exercise on a large scale, but also that they welcome a sincere and dedicated ally who knows how to seriously approach all challenges and shares the same values.

“In the year when NATO marks its 70th anniversary and while the process of ratification of the invitation for our NATO membership is ongoing, there was no better moment for organizing an exercise of this scale”, said Major General Pavle Arsovski, Commander of the ARM Joint Operational Command.

During the “Decisive Strike” exercise, two battalions mechanized infantry from the ARM, two battalions from the 56th Stryker Brigade of the Pennsylvania Amy National Guard, equipped with armored fighting vehicles “Stryker”, artillery battery from Montenegro, Lithuanian artillery planers and Macedonian and American helicopters.

The Special Combat Group for Special Forces will include ARM Special Forces teams, “Green Berets” from the 19th Special Force Group of the US National Guard and Special Forces teams from Albania and Bulgaria.

There will be 26 events, 96 assignments and 13 tactical exercises with infantry gun firing, artillery and helicopters.