Minister Xhacka, General Kollcaku, General Mullai, members of the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF), and distinguished guests.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege to be here with you today. It is an honor to partake in this commemorative ceremony. A ceremony that exemplifies the United States Governments commitment to stronger ties with Albania, and is a testament to our longtime friendship.
Today we celebrate the delivery of 37 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (or MRAPs) to the Albanian Armed Forces. These vehicles, in addition to the Armored Humvees previously provided, will help Albania achieve one of its primary NATO Capability Targets; the successful fielding of a Motorized Infantry Battle Group.
This new armored capability will enhance Albanian’s internal defense, strengthen NATO’s southern flank, and provide critical combat power to NATO that can be deployed in support of global operations. It is yet another example of how Albania is stepping up as a regional leader in the Balkans.
Under the outstanding leadership of Minister Xhacka and General Kollcaku, communication and cooperation between our two militaries has never been stronger. While the delivery of these vehicles marks the completion of one phase of our cooperation, we are excited about the future and the potential to collaborate in additional ways to enhance Albania’s land, air, and sea capabilities.
It is truly an exciting time to be a soldier, sailor, or airman in the Albanian Armed Forces.
We thank you for your commitment to modernizing the Armed Forces, for your commitment to reaching 2% on Defense Spending, and for your past – present – and future commitments to the alliance. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Defense and the Government of Albania on how we can further expand our military relationship.