At the request of the Bulgarian side, the U.S. will provide 10 Textron Guardian vehicles for the Bulgarian military contingent in Afghanistan, which will be delivered to the troops in Afghanistan in the second half of 2014. The donation includes nine Guardian troop-carrying vehicles and an ambulance at a total cost of USD 25.6 M.
Bulgaria currently has seven Guardian vehicles, purchased in 2009 - six in Afghanistan and one in the 61st Stryamska Mechanized Brigade in Karlovo used for the purpose of Bulgarian military contingents’ training. Bulgarian experts will be responsible for the service and maintenance of the donated equipment without the need for additional financial resources from the Ministry of Defense budget.
By decision of the Council of Ministers on November 20, 2013, Bulgaria has confirmed its intention to participate with up to 110 Bulgarian troops in the NATO “Resolute Support” mission for training, advising and support of Afghanistan security forces.
“The policy framework for more systematic and long-term defence cooperation should consider the regional security aspects of the European security and defence and their specific capability needs,” Deputy Defence Minister Ivan Ivanov said today, April 15th, in Luxembourg, at the meeting of the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency, composed of the defence ministers of participating Member States.
Deputy Minister Ivanov pointed out that this framework should form conditions for Member States to maximum benefit from the “Pooling & Sharing” potentials, as well as innovative mechanisms, incentives and models of the best practices to support the Member States’ efforts towards cooperative development of key defence capabilities.
“It is necessary to maintain coherence with NATO defence planning processes and to encourage the participation of Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs), as a prerequisite for establishing a more sustainable and competitive European defence industrial and technological base and upholding Security of Supply (SoS),” Deputy Minister Ivanov said in conclusion.
The EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting with the participation of Defence Ministers, held in Luxembourg, will continue by addressing issues concerning the Joint Communication on Maritime Security, the military operation of the European Union in the Central African Republic (EUFOR RCA), the Eastern Partnership, and the situation in Ukraine.
Today, 11 April 2014, the Minister of Defence conducted a meeting with the Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The two of them discussed the rapidly changing security environment in the context of the crisis in Ukraine which establishes a new strategic reality in Europe, posing a challenge not only to one individual country or another, since it is a challenge to the Alliance in general. This makes the issue of the collective defence even more topical, and brings to the forefront the necessity of strengthening it by building the member-countries’ new capabilities. In the course of the talks, other issues were also discussed stemming from the decrease in the defence budgets of the member-countries like the necessity of increasing the investments for modernization and rearmament, achieving the Target Capabilities of the Armed Forces, acquisition of a new fighter aircraft. The two sides also discussed the increase in the number of the joint exercises and more active employment of the joint Bulgarian-US facilities in Novo Selo training area as well as the training of Libyan servicemen in Bulgaria.
The Minister of Defence awarded the Medal of Honor of the Ministry of Defence “Saint George” I grade to the Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “It is an honor and pleasure for me to present you with the highest distinction of the Ministry of Defence for your personal contribution and merits in confirming NATO as the most powerful collective defence Alliance,” Minister Naydenov said, emphasizing that the award is also presented on the occasion of a major event for Bulgaria, the tenth anniversary of the country’s membership in the Alliance. The Minister of Defence presented the Secretary General of NATO with an icon “Saint George the Victorious”, the protector of the Bulgarian army.
The Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed his gratitude for the high distinction and the honor extended to him. He congratulated the Bulgarian Armed Forces on their courage, professionalism and decisiveness with which they protect the Alliance’s security and values. “Bulgaria is stronger with NATO, and NATO is stronger with Bulgaria” said also the Secretary General of the Alliance.
The Medal of Honor”St. George” was established in 2007with the goal of preserving and continuing the traditions in awarding servicemen and civilians of the Ministry of Defence, the Bulgarian Army and the structures directly subordinated to the Minister of Defence, Bulgarian and foreign citizens for exceptional merits related to strengthening the county’s security and defence, for building and development of the Bulgarian army and military science, and for contribution to establishing, developing and promoting the cooperation in the military sphere.
“We act under procedure regulated by law and assigned by the Council of Ministers decision,” stated today, February 24, Minister of Defence Mr. Angel Naydenov at a press conference in the Ministry of Defence. He clarified the reason for granting the Army the public procurement for the selection of companies-contractors to deliver the materials needed for the construction of fencing engineering structures at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. “This is regulated under the Law on Defence and the Armed Forces and allows budget second level spending units to launch public procurement tenders within their competence,” said Minister Naydenov and added that since the Army has taken full responsibility for the building of the fencing structure, they should be entitled to negotiate the terms and conditions of delivery and engage subcontractors.
“According to the available information, I see nothing contradictory to the Law or raising doubts,” said Minister Naydenov and pointed out that an appointed by him Commission is further evaluating the works related to the construction of the facility. Regarding the company to supply razor wire, it proved to be the only manufacturer of such product. Minister Naydenov highlighted the fact that, since it is a Bulgarian company, this will enable, on the one hand, an economic incentive, while on the other would allow for control over the whole manufacturing process and acceleration of manufacturing, if necessary, along with controlling and shortening delivery timelines.
Commander Army Major General Neyko Nenov informed the media representatives of the organized and performed by the Army activities towards the implementation of operation “Joint Efforts”. He explained the specification of the facility and the key issues related to the organization and launch of the public procurement tender and the negotiations with the contractors. Major-General Nenov reminded of all stages of the Council of Ministers’ decision implementation referring to public procurement award.
He explained that the border fencing structure consists of footing, fence netting, main and secondary posts, spiral razor wire, various types of metal grating and netting panels and emphasized on the particularly great quantities of material needed for the installation. Major-General Nenov announced that the Army service members who are presently in the operation zone proceed with the activities on construction site tracking and preparing for the development of the deterring facility. He specified that there are already 3000 post bases and 7 gates footings built.
Deputy Minister of Defence Ivan Ivanov informed of the results of the investigation accomplished by the appointed by the Minister of Defence Commission of the circumstances of public procurement tender implementation and contracts award. He declared that the Commission has not found violations and all activities have been performed in full compliance with the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Deputy Minister Ivanov announced that during a working visit to the Hellenic Republic he was informed of the full details of the engineer structure on the Greek-Turkish border. He said that their facility is 11 km long, developed along a flat terrain for 8 months while the cost almost equals that of the Bulgarian structure which is three times as long.
During the press conference Minister Angel Naydenov stated that he has ordered to complete the technical facility within 60 days of the delivery of the materials, taking into consideration contingencies as unfavourable weather conditions. He pointed out that as of today, 87 service members and 37 pieces of equipment are on site while the costs amount to 71 331 BGN. Minister Naydenov informed that he receives a weekly report on the course of the technical facility construction works which will be uploaded on the Ministry of Defence web-site.
In view of anticipated refugee influx, the Minister of Defence said that according to information delivered by services directly subordinated to him, a refugee wave from Afghanistan may be probable due to the still unsettled Security Agreement for the continuation of the international forces operation post-2014.
The press conference was attended by Deputy Minister of Defence Nedzhmi Ali, Deputy Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Stefan Vasilev, the Chief of Army Staff Brigadier Andrey Botsev and Colonel Stefan Raychinov, Head of “Contracts and Public Procurement” sector of the Army Command.
Today, February 24, Minister of Defence Angel Naydenov received H.E. Süleyman Gökce, the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to the Republic of Bulgaria.
“The relationships between Bulgaria and Turkey are an example of cooperation between good neighbours, NATO Allies and partners in a wide range of areas,” stated Minister of Defence Naydenov during the meeting. He pointed out that the contacts between the Armed Forces of the two countries are based on excellent interaction in international missions, operations, exercises and joint events.
Evidence of this is the joint participation in the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (BLACKSEAFOR) and the South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG).
For his part, H.E. Süleyman Gökce stated that the cooperation between the Armed Forces of the two states is very good and pointed out that he had been particularly impressed by the professionalism of the Bulgarian service members with whom he had the chance to work as Advisor to the mission of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2005.
During the talks the Parties noted that the dynamic security environment calls for joint efforts and interaction in building defence capabilities and common understanding of the approaches to countering contemporary risks and threats.
It was also stated that the reestablishment of the sessions of the Joint Bulgarian-Turkish Committee in the Military and Technical field, which were cancelled in 2007, would contribute to the development of the defence cooperation between the two countries.
Further the discussions touched on issues related to NATO Smart Defence initiative, the exchange of experience in the area of military training, the stages of transition from conscript to professional Armed Forces and the preservation and care for military graves as an expression of good neighbourly relationships and respect for the national remembrance and history.
The Bulgarian Party was represented by Deputy Minister of Defence Ivan Ivanov, Deputy Chief of Defence Rear Admiral Georgi Georgiev, the Director of Defence Policy Directorate Colonel Radostin Iliev, members of the Political Cabinet of the Minister of Defence and experts of the Ministry of Defence, and the Republic of Turkey – by Defence Attache Colonel Ali Yazici.