During the year when Republic of North Macedonia is at the threshold of realising its strategic goal – full membership in NATO, and the ratification process in the NATO member states, our future allies, is still on-going, it is planned to have the largest national military exercise at Krivolak military range. In 2018, the Army HQ of Republic of North Macedonia proposed, and the Ministry of Defence accepted for our country to host the military exercise “Resolute Strike 2019”. At one of its sessions in April 2018, the Government of Republic of North Macedonia adopted the decision on the entry and stay of members of foreign armed forces on the territory of Republic of North Macedonia, thus oficially formalising the start of exercise preparations.
What is unbeknownst to the public is the process of exercise preparation. From the idea, through planning, to the exercise commencement, several activities were carried out, which are assuming and guaranteeing the seamless and successful performance of the operations arising from the exercise contents. We are talking about a serious and complex process that takes place according to a prescribed and verified methodology. The quality planning process is one of the basic prerequisites for meeting set goals.
The public has been already informed that during the period between May 20th and July 15th, there will a national exercise at the “Krivolak” military range, attended by 2700 members of the armies of Republic of North Macedonia, US, Republic of Albania, Republic of Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Lithuania, using over 370 combat and non-combat vehicles, artillery armaments, fighter and transport choppers, and F-16 and B-52 combat aircrafts. According to its scope and number of participants, this is the largest exercise to take place in Republic of North Macedonia, since its independence.
The exercise leadership has defined several goals, and I would emphasize the following:
Synchronised use of the available forces and assets, confirmation of tactical procedures in conventional and special operations in an urban environment, and different weather conditions;
Increasing the level of interoperability and integration, both between the conventional, and the partner countries’ special operations forces;
Maintaining/increasing the level of combat readiness; and
Defining the national and partner procedures for acquisition, deployment, integration and movement of forces.
The content of planned activities will be carried out through field exercises, tactical exercises – map exercises, tactical exercises with live firing, simulations and joint exercises.
It is realistic to expect that the Army of Republic of North Macedonia will give full contribution to the achievement of set goals. This statement is based on several already accomplished achievements by the army and its recognizable values. The Army, as an organization, along with other governmental institutions, is part of the multi-year reform processes related to the NATO membership. In that, I may rightly say, managed process, using the tools and mechanisms established by NATO, the Army has become a serious and recognized partner that performs its commitments in a quality manner. Thanks to the training, military education, exercise activities, and participation in missions, the Army forces have gained new and high quality capabilities.
By applying and fulfilling the criteria contained in the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC), all military forces, and especially the declared ones, envisaged to part take in NATO-led operations, passed through the processes and cycles of assessment and certification in the past years. The importance of interoperability, a notion that is often used, should be emphasized in particular, but interoperability is also much more than just a word. NATO defines interoperability as an ability to provide seamless cooperation and to enable the forces, units or systems to carry out operations together. I am sure that this important national exercise, as well as many previous ones, will demonstrate an enviable level of interoperability. The accumulated know-how, new skills, and acquired experience of our army forces from previous exercises, but even more from the participation in NATO-led missions, will show that Republic of North Macedonia, as a long-standing and respected partner, is ready to also become an ally in the near future.
For seamless and quality performance of training and exercises, it is necessary to have good infrastructure and training ranges. Republic of North Macedonia has a military range on its territory which, according to its properties and size, is one of the best in the region, and wider. It offers possibilities for accommodating and deploying larger and more numerous forces. It has several sections, where it is possible to conduct several exercises simultaneously and independently. It is also known for its extreme climate conditions, which is a prerequisite for realistic objectification of the training. Therefore, it is recognized by the partners as an army military training range that has great potential. The affirmation of the range will also lead to increased interest in future use by the allies. We need to consider how to achieve economic benefits from the range, that is to say, offer its use for a certain fee.
Republic of North Macedonia and its Army, as done on many occasions so far, will show that they are good hosts and will do everything that is necessary to carry out all activities in a successful manner. Activities of this type are also promotion and demonstration, above all of the mutual trust and readiness for joint action in the spirit of excellent cooperation between NATO and its partners. Any such activity enhances the capabilities for joint actions in the international environment together with partners and allies. Mutual understanding, trust and respect will in many ways contribute to a successful joint engagement in NATO-led operations, and dealing with specific threats. This national exercise sends a clear message that the military co-operation among neighbours and friends is a guarantee of stability, security and peace in the region. The significant participation of the US Army is another affirmation of our strategic partnership and the support we are receiving for integration into the Euro-Atlantic family. Republic of North Macedonia remains committed to achieving its strategic goal at the final stage of getting its deserving full NATO membership.
Lieutenant Colonel General, retired
This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.