Myers Promises Transformation Aid to Slovak Military
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Jul. 19, 2005 The United States will help the Slovakian military as it transitions to an all-volunteer force, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said here today.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walks with his Slovakian counterpart, Lt. Gen. Lubomir Bulik, at the airport in Bratislava, Slovakia, July 19. Myers is visiting Slovakia to further military-to-military relations between the United States and Slovakia. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also thanked Slovakia for military help in Iraq and Afghanistan. Myers met with Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic, State Secretary Marvin Fedor, Member of Parliament Robert Kalinak and Army Lt. Gen. Lubomir Bulik, the chief of the Slovakian military, during meetings here.
Slovakia has a 100-soldier unit serving with the Multinational Division Central South, based in Hillah, Iraq. The Slovak's are engineers, deminers and explosive ordnance disposal specialists. "And there are a lot of explosives in Iraq," an official traveling with Myers said.
Slovakia also has 55 soldiers supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan, where they again specialize in helping demine one of the most explosive-laden countries on Earth.
During a press conference at the Ministry of Defense with Bulik, Myers thanked Slovakia for its help in the effort against violent extremists. "The international community recognizes your important contributions to counter this worldwide threat," Myers said.
Slovakia is moving away from a conscripted force to a professional volunteer military force. The military, now about 18,000 servicemembers, will grow to about 20,000. Officials traveling with Myers said the Slovak government is following military transformation guidance laid out by NATO.
Slovakia is modeling its military after the U.S. model. "If you are looking for an example, why not the best?" a Slovak officer said.
Bulik said there are many areas in which the U.S. can and does help Slovakia. Many Slovak officers have received training under the International Military Education and Training program. American and Slovak units have exercised together. In fact, a unit with the Indiana National Guard is currently training with Slovakian soldiers at a local base.
"Building and development of a (noncommissioned officer) corps in Slovakia" is key to transforming the country's military, Bulik said through an interpreter. He said the Slovak military appointed its equivalent of the sergeant major of the army in January. "This whole concept has been taken up by us through the model provided by the United States," he said.
Other areas in which the United States can continue to help Slovakia is in personnel training and development, standards and doctrine, and acquiring new technologies.
"At the request of the Ministry of Defense and the Slovakian military we have provided assistance in a wide variety of areas," Myers said. "We'll continue to be helpful, if requested.
"Let me just say," he added, "as Slovakia goes through its reform efforts, one of the things the ministry is focused on is the 'people part' of the issue. In my view, that is the most critical part, and moving to an all-volunteer force is a big part of that. We stand ready to provide assistance any way we can."
During the visit, Bulik presented Myers with the Slovak Medal of the Minister of Defense. He said the award was for Myers' many years of help and cooperation.