The Bulgarian and US Armies are setting up a new NATO multinational battlegroup in Bulgaria as European security is tested by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Allies this year agreed to strengthen existing NATO battlegroups in the Baltic states and in Poland, and to establish four new multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to reinforce Allied deterrence and defense.
In Bulgaria, a team of advisors from the US Army’s 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade is helping set up the new multinational battlegroup, NATO said.
They are working alongside the Bulgarian 42nd Mechanised Battalion and a company of infantry from the US Army’s 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team to establish the group’s standard operating procedures.
Lieutenant Colonel Velin Kehayov, Bulgarian Army 42nd Mechanised Battalion said:
“Bulgaria is located … on the other side of the Black Sea, which means it’s extremely close to the conflict in Ukraine. So the biggest benefit of creating the battlegroup is that by strengthening NATO’s eastern defense potential, it contributes to strengthening the defense potential of … our country and the region.”
US Army 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade Sergeant First Class David Jones said:
“Relationships play an absolutely invaluable role. You have to build trust before any meaningful way forward can be forged.” even more so when European security has been challenged by a war in the region.
During the annual Bulgarian-led Exercise Platinum Lion 22, soldiers tested their ability to work together by executing a battalion-sized joint operation. Infantry from the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment also participated.
The Italian Army will assume command of the NATO battlegroup in October. Albania and the United States will contribute forces, with more nations expected to join.
Staff Sergeant Courtney Foster, US Army 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade said that the „Bulgarian Army has been absolutely welcoming… we’ve been able to build cohesion very quickly and work very well together.”