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NATO’s current efforts to adapt to emerging hybrid challenges from the east and south were a focus of discussions between Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) General Sir Adrian Bradshaw and the Bulgarian Chief of Defense, Vice Admiral Rumen Nikolov, in Sofia, Bulgaria on 17 and 18 March 2015.
During the visit, General Bradshaw also met with the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Defense, Dimitar Kyumyurdzhiev. Main areas of discussion included ongoing enhancements to the NATO Response Force in response to hybrid threats, as well as investigating future exercise and training opportunities involving NATO and Bulgarian forces.
"NATO is enhancing its abilities to defend itself from hybrid threats and Bulgaria's contribution to this effort has been significant,” said General Bradshaw. "The recent maritime manoeuvres in the Black Sea involving NATO’s Standing Naval Maritime Group 2 and the Bulgarian warship DRAZKI demonstrated a credible maritime presence, and underscore our commitment to collective defence,” he added.
During the visit, DSACEUR also discussed the planned stand-up of six NATO Force Integration Units on the Alliance’s eastern and southern flanks, including one in Bulgaria. These elements will act as a liaison between national and NATO forces and will facilitate collective defence planning and exercises. The NATO Force Integration Units are also designed to facilitate the rapid deployment of high-readiness forces from NATO, should they be required.
"NATO Force Integration Units will play a leading role in times of crisis and alert,” said General Bradshaw. "Their importance in closer co-operation and assisting in further exercises in Bulgaria will also be very valuable and I appreciate your substantial efforts in progressing the plans for these centres,” he said.
General Bradshaw also thanked Bulgarian officials for their recent support to NATO operations.
"Your ongoing efforts in Afghanistan on RESOLUTE SUPPORT and in Kosovo reflect your strong resolve and commitment to collective security,” he said.