On 28 November 2016, NATO Liaison Office Skopje (NLO Sk) finalised the round of visits to commands and units in the country that had been started in September. The last of the visits was to the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade and the Air Brigade, both situated in the Petrovec camp near Skopje airport. The team was led by NLOSk Chief, Navy Captain Gorazd Bartol, and was warmly welcomed by teams of the two formations in consecutive meetings.
The delegation of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade was led by the Deputy Commander Colonel Marjan Simonovski and the Chief of Staff Lieutenant-Colonel Stojance Todorov. During the visit, NLO Sk delivered a short briefing on the history, mission and tasks of the office. Afterwards, the hosts also provided a quite informative presentation, which afforded us better insight into their capabilities, concerning: mission and tasks, organizational and formational structure, available personnel and equipment, and significant activities of their units. In addition, the NLO Sk delegation was familiarized with future training plans, with special emphasis on the evaluation and re-evaluation of declared units.
The visit to the Air Brigade came next, where we were briefed on the past, present and future challenges of its units. The Deputy Commander Colonel Zaim Shkrielj and the Chief of Staff Colonel Zoran Iliev welcomed us with their team. The status of implementation of the Partnership Goals was mentioned, especially the Forward Air Controllers issue, being one of the most problematic ones in terms of training. The mission of this unit drives its requirements for more training; although the manning is sufficient, challenges remain in terms of modernization of all the helicopters to increase the number of the flying hours. The NLO Sk delegation was satisfied with the visit, exchanged experiences and gave their opinions about the upcoming period.
With these visits, NLO Sk concluded the visit plan for 2016. After coordination with relevant authorities, a plan will be compiled for visiting more formations and units in 2017, both under the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence. The emphasis will be on the importance of joint efforts and close cooperation towards the achievement of the country’s NATO-oriented goals.
Story and photos courtesy of J9