General, Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen
We have just witnessed the arrival in Albania of two Royal Air force jets - the first significant military hardware to arrive in Albania for exercise Albanian Lion with UK, Dutch and Albanian forces. But there is much more to come. 10 Royal Navy ships are busy steaming across the Mediterranean with Albanian officers embedded within the planning process ready to land over 1000 British Commandos in the area around Vlore next week. We already have reconnaissance teams in place to facilitate this. Building on from last years exercise we have enhanced our contribution by providing a larger force; comprising of fast jets, helicopters, assault boats and armoured personnel carriers for ground manoeuvre and force protection. This exercise marks the start of our annual deployment of the Response Force Task Group comprising over 3000 men and women to the Mediterranean and then through the Suez Canal to the Middle East. We are delighted to be here first with our NATO Allies of Albania for the third year running.
My role is as the Exercise Director, and after the Landings in Vlore and on Sazan Island we will move inland to Kucove and further inland to the beautiful mountainous areas around Biza, where we have already been exercising this year. Along with the facilities at Zall Herr, Albania has some of the best training areas ever used by our Task Group and I apologise in advance if our presence on the beaches or the roads inconveniences anyone. We are extremely grateful for their use and for the chance to work alongside the Albanian Forces, sharing experiences of operations. I very much hope we can continue the engagement next year, but with even more joint planning because I look forward to working with the Albanian forces on operations abroad in the near future.
Published 11 September 2013