April 1st, 2007 11:21 EST
Giambastiani Lauds Slovenia for Deployment Participation
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, March 31, 2007 – Slovenia’s deployments to multiple countries for NATO, the United Nations and the European Union drew praise here yesterday from the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani met with Defense Minister Karl Erjavec, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Albin Gutman and Gutman’s deputy, Maj. Gen. Alojz Steiner, at the Defense Ministry of this nation at the crossroads of central Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans.
“Slovenia has contributed substantially to a variety of operations across NATO,” the admiral said at a news conference. “Clearly, the most significant that is occurring right now is Kosovo, with a very large presence of a battalion of Slovenian troops there. We’re very thankful for that, both from the United States and throughout the alliance.”
The battalion is the first large unit deployment from Slovenia to Kosovo, he said. In addition to that deployment, the Slovenian defense forces are making contributions in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“All of those are very meaningful and are a strong testament to the desire for Slovenia to be a good partner in this alliance,” Giambastiani said. “In fact, I would compliment Slovenia on exceeding the troop deployment goals that NATO has set, and Slovenia continues to punch above its weight, and we’re very thankful for that.”
“In 2006 for example, Slovenia averaged well over 700 troops deployed,” he said. “Now that’s not the only measure of what a country does as part of our alliance, but what’s significant is that there’s other deployments in support of the United Nations and of the European Union, and also independent deployments based upon other commitments Slovenia has made. The fact that Slovenian armed forces have come this far in a short period of time is impressive.”
Slovenia is slightly smaller than New Jersey, and abolished its military draft in 2003. Its all-volunteer military has about 40,000 members.
During the day’s meetings, Slovenian officials briefed Giambastiani on plans for their government to increase the percentage of gross domestic product applied toward national security and NATO commitments. The admiral was also briefed on proposed pay increases and plans for increased training and education.
“That is very important to draw the highest quality people you can,” the admiral said.
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff public affairs office.)
By Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service