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Austin Lauds Military Ties Between U.S., Slovakia

Service members wearing flight suits hold a Slovak flag while standing next to a military helicopter.
Indiana National Guardsmen with the 38th Combat Aviation Brigade and partners from Slovakia conduct aerial gunnery training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., April 19, 2023.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Hannah Clifton
VIRIN: 230419-Z-YR542-0265

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III today emphasized the deepening defense ties between the U.S. and Slovakia as he met with Slovak Defense Minister Robert Kalinak. 

Austin praised Slovakia's commitment to modernizing its defense forces, enhancing its interoperability with fellow NATO allies, and supporting Ukraine amid Russia's ongoing invasion.   

"Since 1993, the United States and independent Slovakia have deepened our defense cooperation through NATO, the State Partnership Program with the Indiana National Guard, and joint operations," Austin said as he welcomed Kalinak, who also serves as Slovakia's deputy prime minister, to the Pentagon. 

Two civilians shakes hands.
Official Welcome
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III welcomes Slovak Defense Minister Robert Kaliňák to the Pentagon, March 1, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza, DoD
VIRIN: 240301-D-PM193-1152

"Today, Slovakia is increasing its defense spending," he said. "It's modernizing its military, and it's enhancing its interoperability with NATO." 

Key among those modernization efforts is Slovakia's purchase of U.S.-produced F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, which Austin said further bolsters Slovak modernization efforts and strengthens defense ties with the U.S.  

Those efforts, Austin said, come at a critical time as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  

During the meeting, Kalinak reaffirmed his country's commitment to further modernization efforts and continued military-to-military cooperation with the U.S., according to a summary of the discussion. 

A group of people meet around a large table.
Pentagon Meeting
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Slovak Defense Minister Robert Kaliňák meet at the Pentagon, March 1, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza, DoD
VIRIN: 240301-D-PM193-1314

The two leaders also discussed the importance of countering Russian aggression in Ukraine and priorities for the upcoming 75th anniversary NATO summit in Washington. 

"Our partnership has never mattered more, especially as we mark two years since Putin's all out invasion of Ukraine," Austin said as he kicked off the discussion.  

"Slovakia has provided critical security assistance to Ukraine's brave defenders, and I look forward to discussing ways that we can continue to strengthen Ukraine's defenses and to reinforce NATO's eastern flank," he said.

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