*Minister Peleshi, Brigadier General Kingji, Brigadier General Schaertl,
As we celebrate 100 years of relationship, we find a truly historic way to take our military relationship to new heights.
For decades, Albanian and American troops have trained, fought and lived side by side around the world. But today we mark an important milestone in our bilateral defense partnership here in Albania.
Earlier this year, on March 9, we established the headquarters of the US Special Forces Balkans Task Force in Tirana – the first persistent presence of US forces in Albania in history. Today, we are pleased to formally activate another element of our presence: the US Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigade, also known as SFAB.
The SFAB, which is the first military training unit of our army, joins forces with the first Albanian military unit – the Light Infantry Battle Group – to strengthen Albania’s military capabilities.
The Light Infantry Battle Group has already made significant progress towards achieving its NATO capability goals. Under the leadership of Minister Peleshi and Brigadier General Kingji, the Albanian forces continue to improve through modernization, infrastructure development and structural changes that will play an important role not only in Albania, but also in regional security and global.
Indeed, Russia’s unprovoked, unjustifiable and brutal invasion of Ukraine clearly demonstrates that NATO Allies’ capabilities and interoperability are essential. SFAB soldiers are proven leaders who are the best at their craft, and they will do their best every hour of every day to ensure that US and Albanian forces can do just that.
Our SFAB soldiers will also undoubtedly strengthen the unbreakable bond between the United States and Albania. To the U.S. and Albanian troops here today, I salute you and thank you for your contributions to the enduring U.S.-Albanian relationship. The work you do together will help us build the next 100 years of relationships.
* as prepared for delivery