The training “Joint-Effort 2016”, which culminated the date on the 26th of September 2016, promoted the operational and professional skills of all our Armed Forces, those land, air and naval. Every force at their own training theater demonstrated the degree, the skills and level of preparation according to the different scenarios on the enforcement of duties and military mission, where the war against terrorist acts was the main topic. While the land forces together with the ally military ones explored in detail their region in Bize, that day the Naval force gave away a spectacle of contemporary training on the region of the Cape of Pal. In fact the gulf of the Cape of Pal is suitable for such training, but there are stories of other earlier naval battles too. For example, in 1081 year, here is also noted one of the most important naval battles, because the Anzhuin prince Robert Boemundi, with well-armed fleet for the age tried to invade by the sides Durres from the region of the Cape of Pal. The historical sources witness that after a bloody battle, Robert was defeated badly by the troops and the ships of prince Paleolog and the Venetian ones. It is has been years that the Albanian sailors turned this beautiful and historical gulf into a training region where they measure their forces with the waves and the transgressors of the law at the sea.
For the sailors this day turned into a field-day, because this final of training at the sea, was watched by high military ones, positively, the Chief of Headquarters of FA, Major General Jeronim Bazo, the Commander of the Forces of the USA in Europe, General Lieutenant Benjamin Hodges, the Commander of FSK, General Lieutenant Rahman Rama, General of Brigade Ryan Richmond, the Commander of the 160th Brigade of the British Royal Army, the Commanders of Naval, Land and Air Forces, Major General Ylber Dogjani, General of Brigade Nazmi Cahani, Vladimir Avdiaj and other military ones… On the morning of the 25th of September 2016, a group of terrorists held hostage a ship with Albanian flag. After a 24 hours battle our military ships supported by the air and the special forces managed to catch and finish off the terrorists and to free the hostages. The high military ones watched and appreciated the level and the commitment of the sailors on every training scenario. The naval region of the Cape of Pal, for more than 2 hours turned into a naval battle, surely not like the one of 1081…but with tools and tactics of the age, standards that practices every fleet of the ally countries of NATO. In the beginning General Bazo pointed the increase of the parameters and the professional indicators of the sailors. Later, wondered by the nature, the sight that this gulf gives you and this cape only several miles away from Durres, the performance shown by our sailors, the Commander of the American Forces in Europe, General Lieutenant Ben Hodges, turned to our sailors with warm and hearty words, with the typical and direct simpleness, as American military ones speak, a friendly greeting. General Hodges in the beginning removed the cameras in front of him and he turned to the formed sailors: I want to envisage everybody, Who knows to speak English? … Some sailors raised their hand… I am from Florida and my English is terrible. Today you the best professional values as sailors. The Albanian army and your country is an important ally of NATO and the USA. We encourage you and we support every step that you will take for the enforcement of security and peace… I am impressed by this training, where helicopters and ships together transported bodies, proper and fast actions, like a single team. I am impressed by everything.
Actions from helicopter to ship conversely are dangerous actions, taking into consideration the wind, the sea and other factors, but you faced them with courage and determination. Albania has a part of the perimeter coast of NATO, that’s why it is important that Albania has operational capacities at the sea, capable sailors and Task Force for the execution of the law at the sea, as a member of NATO. I love the weapon of the land forces, but I have to admit that the fleet has the best place. If I was your commander, my office would be exactly here, smoking and thinking of important things… Thank for your service and the best congratulations for you and your families!… General Hodges also was interested in the history of the Albanian people and the naval base of the Cape of Pal. So for some minutes he was introduced to the main moments of the history of this base. His short time of staying on the Cape of Pali, didn’t enable that General Hodges to taste the hospitality of his sailors. But, the General and other allies are welcome for any case to visit Durres and Albania. He at a short time showed his values as noble military leader, friend of Albanians and won the hearts of our sailors.
Again on the 26th of September, before the training on the Cape of Pal, in the region of Biza, General Ben Hodges said:
“The Albanian army is advancing, but there is still a lot more to do. We need to know that nothing is free of charge, that’s why Albania has to increase the investments on the army. Albania committed that the budget for the army is going to be 2% of the GDP. Regarding Kosovo, the entrance to NATO is a political decision”,
Note: I feel privileged to have the opportunity to accompany almost all of the Commanders of the Forces of the USA in Albania. The first Commander of the American Forces in Europe who visited our country is General Lieutenant Chrouc, who stayed for several days at the Garrison of Plepa in September 1995, I even have an exclusive photo of general Chrouc among artists from Durres. While at the office desired by General Chrouc, I worked for several years where I wrote “Antologjia e Detarise Shqiptare” (Antology of Albanian Navy”. Lieutenant General Hodges holds the duty of the Commander of the Forces of the USA in Europe since on the 5th of November 2014. I mention that the above writing will be part of the newest book, “Një shekull bashkëpunim ushtarak Shqiperi-SHBA”, (A century military cooperation Albania-the USA).