President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday that the Saber Guardian 2017 exercise that took place at the ‘Getica’ Combat Training Centre for Land Forces in Cincu, Brasov County, was a special one.
“I watched an exercise that was very special given both its dimension and number of participants, as well as the fact that Romanian and U.S. servicemen took part in it alongside guests from several states, which made this exercise an international exercise, a very successful one in my opinion,” Iohannis said.
He pointed out that the goal of the exercise was to show whether several military units can work together, whether the troops are compatible.
“The first response we can give now is: yes, they are compatible, they have worked very well together and everyone witnessed today the living proof that our soldiers are capable of fighting together,” the head of state said.
Asked if these servicemen could deter Russia, Iohannis replied: “Of course they can, and I believe they are doing it.”
He congratulated the commanders who led the units participating in this exercise.
“A very high level of training, professionalism, and it could be very easily seen: a special exercise given the fact that several armies have participated here. This hasn’t been done in our country before. It is a first. The final assessment will be done by the military in the hours and days to come, but a first evaluation that can be done at this moment is that it was a very successful exercise. I congratulate everyone who prepared, led this exercise and everyone who participated, regardless of their rank,” Iohannis said.
“It is an exceptional exercise, it is the largest exercise conducted this year, and I am not talking about the largest Romanian exercise, but the largest exercise of a NATO member state, and I am still very curious to see how this very high number of participants prepared, almost 25,000 people and a few thousand vehicles and weapons systems are participating,” the head of state said upon his arrival at Cincu on the Distinguished Visitors’ Day.
He was welcomed by National Defence Minister Adrian Tutuianu and Chief of General Staff, General Nicolae Ciuca, being received with military honours.
NATO Military Committee Chairman Petr Pavel, Presidential Adviser Ion Oprisor, Defence Ministry’s Secretary of State Mircea Dusa and Interior Ministry’s Secretary of State Raed Arafat were also present at Cincu.
Iohannis showed that this was not the first time he came to Cincu. “This isn’t the first time and I believe I will come again. It is a very interesting exercise, each time I must say that I am very glad that we have commanders – and I am also talking about NATO commanders and Romanian commanders – who know each time to prepare exercises with new elements, with new surprises, and this is a good thing. It is always good that the enemy be taken by surprise, in our case, the spectator,” Iohannis said.
He stated such exercises are useful in order for the enemies to be taken “by surprise.”
“It is always good that the enemy be taken by surprise, in our case, the spectator,” Iohannis said in Cincu.
Soldiers presented a dynamic combat exercise that included the use of air and artillery assets in support of armoured forces that acted in defence, according to the MoD.
The exercise was followed by the ceremony marking the activation of the command of the Multinational Brigade South-East (MN BDE-SE), which is coordinated by the Multinational Brigade Divisional Command (MND-SE HQ) and represents one of the measures taken following NATO’s summit in Warsaw, which seek to strengthen allied presence on the southern part of the Alliance’s eastern flank.
The live-fire exercise at Cincu involved 1,700 Romanian servicemen from the 2nd “Getica” Infantry Division, 282nd “Unirea Principatelor” Mechanised Infantry Brigade, and 8th “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” Larom Brigade, alongside 3,300 servicemen from Armenia, Croatia, the U.S., and Ukraine.
In the exercise, infantry and armoured forces were supported by Romanian Air Forces and USAREUR military aircraft. In addition, military intelligence, psychological operations (PSYOP) and Topography – Geodesy structures will also conduct activities.
The Saber Guardian 2017 multinational exercise is the largest and most complex training activity of 2017. Approximately 25,000 servicemen and over 2,000 combat vehicles and weapons systems from 22 allied and partner countries participate in the exercise. The exercise is carried out on the territory of Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, with approximately 17,000 servicemen being deployed to Romania.
President Iohannis on Patriot acquisition: We aren’t preparing to attack anybody
President Klaus Iohannis on Saturday said, in respect to the Patriot air defence systems, that this procurement is not designed for attacking anyone.
Present at Cincu, the head of state was asked if the acquisition of Patriot systems can create tensions in the relation with the Russian Federation.
“In the first place, we must see what these acquisitions are for. We aren’t preparing to attack anybody. We are preparing to be better equipped, so that our armed forces benefit from modern, efficient equipping. It is an absolutely necessary thing and this procurement isn’t designed to attack anybody. It is designed to defend ourselves, to guarantee the security of Romanians in Romania,” Iohannis showed.
In respect to Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO, the head of state said that this topic will be discussed when this country announces its intention.
“This is a matter we could hardly discuss today, but we all find that the Ukrainian servicemen wanted and were able to participate in this exercise today. If Ukraine wants or doesn’t want to become a NATO ally is a matter to be discussed when Ukraine voices its will one way or another,” the head of state pointed out.
U.S. Army Europe Commander: Romania is making efforts to modernize equipment
U.S. Army Europe Commander, Lieutenant General Frederick Benjamin “Ben” Hodges, on Saturday voiced his conviction that Romania will manage to spend the 2 percent of the GDP allotted to the Army this year, pointing out that the country is making efforts to modernize the equipment.
I believe Romania will reach the 2 percent of the GDP for Defence this year, seven years before the deadline. What is important isn’t only the money, but leadership, too, the continuation of training and modernization. Romania is making efforts to modernize the equipment, Hodges said at the end of the Saber Guardian 2017 exercise taking place at Cincu, Brasov County.
He pointed out that the U.S. are committed to contribute to the Black Sea area security.
It is a proof that Romania is a trustworthy ally. (…) It has quality people. Today, there has been another demonstration why Romania is an important ally in NATO. No one should wonder if the U.S. is involved in Europe’s security and stability. You have seen the proof today. When the U.S. is serious about something, we come up with money, US soldiers, Hodges showed.
He maintained that the Saber Guardian exercise will not lead to an escalation of tensions with Russia. Deterrence means capabilities, making sure that any potential threat knows we are prepared to do what it takes, but it also means leaving the door open. We want the Russian Federation to be a responsible member of the global community. We want Russia to come back to the global community. (…) The door is open, but the best chance for them to come back to that door is that the Alliance remain strong, for Russia respects power, the U.S. Army Europe Commander mentioned.
In his turn, Chief of General Staff, General Nicolae Ciuca, said that this exercise is meant to show that Romania is a trustworthy ally.
“It wasn’t only an exercise through which we wanted to show the military capabilities that the participating country’s armies have, but it was an exercise meant to obtain a maximum effect in the line of inter-operativity, the line of planning, coordination and integrated conduct of field actions, and today it was the peak moment which I was personally very impressed with, for its coordination manner, for what the commanders have managed to achieve, everything that the servicemen have managed on field. (…) It was a perfect synchronization among the land and air forces, the infantry, artillery, helicopters’ and aircraft’s fire. I still feel the emotion of the satisfaction given by the accomplished mission,” Ciuca added.
He thanked those who contributed to planning, organizing and conducting the military exercise.