The Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sifet Podzic, visited “Manjaca” on Wednesday with his deputies Mijo Kresic and Mirko Okolic, and the Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colonel General Senad Masovic, and the Commander of the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo, Brigadier General William Edwards, in order to monitor the assessment of the NEL-1 Battalion Light Infantry Battle Group (INF-L-BNG).
During the tour of the training ground, the director of the exercise, Brigadier Slaven Blavicki, informed the guests about the dynamics of the evaluation of this unit declared for peacekeeping operations, which is carried out by NATO evaluators, the Ministry of Defense of BiH stated on Wednesday.
The director of the NEL-1 assessment, Colonel Tore Bade, who will announce the initial field report on Friday, stressed that the final assessment of the unit’s degree of interoperability will be made within 30 days, after a detailed analysis. He expressed satisfaction with the evaluation so far and stressed that the INF-L-BNG unit is well on its way to successfully completing the NEL-1 evaluation.
Minister Podzic pointed out his satisfaction with what he saw, and emphasized that the Armed Forces of BiH are conducting their training at their Manjaca range, and that the representatives of NATO countries are only evaluating them.
“NATO soldiers are not participating in the exercise. One of the missions of the Armed Forces BiH is to participate in peacekeeping operations, led by NATO, the United Nations or the European Union. So far, BiH has trained 11 companies and some platoons of various specialties, which are ready to carry out such missions. For the next cycle of cooperation, in 2019, we declared a battalion of light infantry. Now this unit is being evaluated for the first time by NATO evaluators (so-called NEL-1). Next year, the level assessments of SEL-2 and NEL-2 are planned, so that in 2023 we have a trained battalion combat group of light infantry for peacekeeping missions,” said Minister Podzic.
The Chief of the Joint Staff of the AFBiH, Colonel General Masovic, pointed out that it is especially important that the Armed Forces BiH with this exercise raises the level of interoperability with NATO, improves the quality of training, but also creates assumptions that in addition to INF-L-BNG training.
He also stressed that special attention during the preparation and implementation of the exercise was paid to compliance with epidemiological and hygienic measures prescribed by the competent institutions, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Edwards congratulated on the successful implementation of this very demanding event.
”In order for the battalion group to be taken to the exercise, it requires the organization, resources and efforts of many people in the entire defense system. According to what I saw, the team did an excellent job, mitigating the risk of coronavirus for soldiers,” said Edwards and praised the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces BiH for their commitment to developing well-trained and equipped forces capable of carrying out the mission prescribed by the Law on Defense.