Partnerships

Albanian, U.S. Defense Leaders Reaffirm Relationship at Pentagon

April 18, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan met with Albanian Defense Minister Olta Xhacka at the Pentagon to reaffirm the defense relationship between the United States and Albania.

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The leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, including Albania's significant contributions to U.S. and NATO operations in the region and their continued leadership on countering Russia's malign activities in the Balkans, Pentagon officials said.

The two also agreed on the importance of burden-sharing within the alliance, and Shanahan praised Albania's efforts to reach the goal of spending at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product for defense by 2024, as NATO member nations agreed upon at the alliance's 2014 summit in Wales.

Here are five things you should know about Albania:

1
With more than 100 personnel serving in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Albania is the second largest per capita troop contributor to this important NATO operation.
An Albanian service member sits with others in the rear of an aircraft.
Helicopter Operations
Albanian military personnel train on helicopter operations with U.S. soldiers in Romania, June 10, 2017.
Photo By: Netherlands Army Cpl. Jasper Verolme
VIRIN: 170610-F-ZZ999-373
2
A staunch NATO ally since 2009, Albania celebrates its 10-year anniversary in the alliance this year.
An Albanian service member walks alongside military vehicles.
Greece to Bulgaria
NATO troops from Albania cross the border from Greece to Bulgaria en route to Exercise Noble Jump 2017, June 5, 2017.
Photo By: British Army Warrant Officer 2 Dan Harmer
VIRIN: 170603-F-ZZ999-732C
3
Albania currently serves as the chair for the U.S.-Adriatic Charter group of nations, working to increase cooperation and coordination among the nations of the Western Balkans region.
A soldier in the woods looks rearward.
Albanian Soldier
An Albanian soldier searches for opposing forces during a training mission as part of exercise Combined Resolve XI at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Dec. 7, 2018.
Photo By: Army Spc. Matthew J. Marcellus
VIRIN: 181207-A-QF685-906
4
As a signal to the progress Albania has made since the collapse of its communist system in 1992, Albania was selected in 2014 for candidate status in the European Union.
Albanian military vehicles travel in a convoy.
Albanian Convoy
Albanian troops arrive in Greece, June 3, 2017.
Photo By: Greek Army Pvt. Nikiforos Anastasios
VIRIN: 170603-F-ZZ999-277
5
Albania enjoys a close relationship with New Jersey and the New Jersey National Guard, as part of the U.S. National Guard State Partnership Program, which was established in 2001.
The patch of Albania is visible on a soldier’s sleeve.
Albanian Military
Albanian military personnel train on helicopter operations with U.S. soldiers in Romania, June 10, 2017.
Photo By: Netherlands Army Cpl. Jasper Verolme
VIRIN: 170610-F-ZZ999-894C