Press Release - US Army Europe and Africa commanding general visits DEFENDER-Europe 21 host nations

June 1, 2021

WIESBADEN, Germany —

U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s Commanding General visited southern Europe and the Balkans May 21-27, to meet with military and government officials and U.S. embassy country teams supporting DEFENDER-Europe 21.


Gen. Christopher Cavoli conducted meetings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo and North Macedonia to discuss DEFENDER-Europe 21, future training opportunities and the U.S. Army’s commitment to building readiness and interoperability between U.S. and NATO ally and partner militaries.  


“Our nations count on our forces being ready to defend the peace under any conditions,” said Cavoli. “DEFENDER-Europe 21 provides us the best opportunity to hone our abilities alongside our allies and partners in the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea regions so that collectively, we are ready to respond to any crisis that may arise.  DEFENDER-Europe 21 demonstrates the ironclad U.S. commitment to the defense of Europe and that NATO allies and partners stand stronger together.”


Bosnia and Herzegovina: Cavoli’s engagements included viewing an air assault demonstration and discussions with Presidents Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić, Defense Minister Sifet Podzi, Chief of the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Senad Mašović, and U.S. Ambassador Eric Nelson. Cavoli thanked them for their outstanding support to DEFENDER-Europe 21 and expressed admiration for the progress they are making toward NATO accession. He remarked that he was proud to see U.S. and Bosnia and Herzegovina troops training side-by-side and that he was tremendously impressed by the quality and skill of the Bosnia and Herzegovina troops as they were almost indistinguishable from their American counterparts during the exercise. 


Croatia: Cavoli observed an Immediate Response multinational live fire demonstration alongside President Zoran Milanovic, Chief of Defense Adm. Robert Hranj, Minister of Defense Mario Banozic and U.S. Embassy country team officials. Cavoli thanked them for their participation and the critical support Croatia is providing as a host nation to DEFENDER-Europe 21.  The general also thanked them for their strong partnership and the leadership they are providing toward collective security and NATO deterrence across Europe. 


Greece: Cavoli met with Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Alkiviadis Stefanis, Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff Lt. Gen. Charalampos Lalousis, Commander of D Army Corps Lt. Gen. Angelos Choudeloudis, Commander of 12th Mechanized Infantry Division Maj. Gen. Stavros Papastathopoulos, 20th Armoured Division Command Maj. Gen. Georgios Triantis and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. While in Greece, Cavoli viewed improvements to Port of Alexandroupoli, where he commented that he was very impressed with the continued development of the port. Cavoli also observed a live fire, which was part of exercise Immediate Response, at the Petrochori Training Area. During the event, he thanked his Greek counterparts for their outstanding support to the exercise activities and expressed his deep appreciation for their continued military collaboration.


Kosovo: Cavoli met with Minister of Defense Armend Mehaj, Commander of the Kosovo Security Force Lt. Gen. Rrahman Rama and Kosovo Force Commander Maj. Gen. Franco Federici. Cavoli commended them on the continued development and the outstanding progress of their security forces and reinforced U.S. commitment to Kosovo and stability in the region. He also thanked them for hosting DEFENDER-Europe 21 events and for their ongoing dedication to regional security and stability. 


North Macedonia: Cavoli met with President Stevo Pendarovski, Minister of Defense Radmila Shekerinska, Chief of Defense Lt. Gen. Vasko Gjurchinovski, Commander of Joint Operations Command Maj. Gen. Pavle Arsoski, Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Azim Nuredin and U.S. Ambassador Kate Byrnes. Cavoli commended the Armed Forces on their continued progression and integration with NATO. The general thanked the country for their historic support of DEFENDER-Europe 21 and reiterated the U.S. Army’s continued support of the country’s path towards military modernization.


DEFENDER-Europe is an annual large-scale U.S. Army-led, multinational, joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S., NATO and partner militaries. This year, more than 28,000 multinational forces from 27 nations will conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in more than a dozen countries from the Baltics to the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea Region. To follow the latest news and information about DEFENDER-Europe 21, visit

  • U.S. Army Europe and Africa