US Cuts Short Military Exercises in Slovenia Due to Restrictions at Poček

By , 16 May 2019, 16:27 PM Politics
Previous exercises at Poček Previous exercises at Poček Wikimedia - MORS CC-by-3.0

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STA, 15 May 2019 - The US army has decided to curtail ongoing military activities in Slovenia due to restrictions imposed at the Poček grounds near Postojna, the US Embassy in Ljubljana has said.

"US Forces are awaiting concrete rules and guidelines, to be outlined by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with local municipalities, so that they can forecast, plan, and conduct future training within those rules and guidelines," the embassy told the STA on Wednesday.

The statement comes after TV Slovenija reported Monday that the US military had been considering no longer participating in joint exercises in Slovenia in the current scope because at Poček, night-time activities are limited due to protests by the local community.

Defence Minister Karl Erjavec however said after a meeting with Gautam Rana, the chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy, there was no reason for concern since the planned exercises would be carried out as agreed.

The embassy said today the US forces appreciated the opportunity to train jointly with the Slovenian Armed Forces in an area with well-established range facilities like those in Poček.

"We respect the importance of ongoing discussions with the local community, as the intent of US Forces is always to train with allies like Slovenia in a way that is neither disruptive to the environment, nor the local community."

But executing the training schedule demands "assured, predictable access to the facilities where troops can exercise specific capabilities essential to operational readiness, to include night live-fire."

"New guidelines established by the Ministry of Defence preclude the ability to fully replicate a realistic combat environment for training purposes in Slovenia, meaning US readiness requirements cannot be met."

The embassy also stressed that the bilateral relationship "remains strong, and we enjoy extensive cooperation from the working to most senior levels on a wide variety of issues of mutual interest."

It noted US Army Europe Commander Lieutenant-General Christopher Cavoli visited Slovenia this week for meetings with senior leaders on defence issues, with a large US delegation expected at the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Ljubljana in June.

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