The Slovenia Times

Slovenia and Colorado mark 30 years of military cooperation

Brigadier General Laura Clellan, the commander of the Colorado National Guard (left), and Major General Robert Glavaš, chief of the general staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, mark 30 years of Slovenia-Colorado military cooperation.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The armed forces of Slovenia and the US state of Colorado have been cooperating for 30 years. The Colorado National Guard (CONG) helped Slovenia develop its modern army, and Colorado soldiers have learned a lot about mountain rescue from their Slovenian counterparts.

The 30th anniversary of their close cooperation was marked at a ceremony in Bled on 9 March. The event was addressed by CONG Commander Brigadier General Laura Clellan and Chief of the General Staff of SAF Major General Robert Glavaš.

The partnership began soon after Slovenia gained independence in the early 1990s and played a major role in SAF development or its transformation from the conscription model it inherited from the former Yugoslavia into a contemporary army capable of being active abroad, Glavaš said, describing the partnership as a success story.

The SAF and CONG are in regular contact either holding joint meetings, training sessions or missions abroad, he said, thanking the Colorado military forces for years of support.

The Colorado National Guard was honoured for its international cooperation at the event.

Clellan pointed to a few joint projects - SAF and CONG members participated in a number of missions in Afghanistan, and yearly mountain warfare training has become a permanent fixture. Colorado also helped Slovenia in a project to upgrade Poček, the country's main military training grounds, and the Cerklje pri Krki airbase.

Looking ahead, Clellan and Glavaš committed to further cooperation.

Slovenia and Colorado are both home to rugged mountainous terrain and hilly landscapes, and this similarity was one of the reasons the two struck the partnership.

The ceremony, held in Hotel Vila Bled, a former presidential residence, was also attended by Lieutenant Governor of Colorado Dianne Primavera and many military officials. The day before Clellan and Primavera were received by President Nataša Pirc Musar.

Marked evolution on both sides

Established in March 1993, the Colorado-Slovenia partnership aims to foster security cooperation between the US and Slovenia and support the objectives of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

Clellan first met SAF members in 1998, when they visited for training in Colorado and neighbouring Wyoming. She has watched the Slovenian army modernise and professionalise since, Clellan told the STA.

"We're working on cyber defence now. That was not happening thirty years ago in either of our armies actually," she said. She also mentioned the professionalisation of the officer core and the non-commissioned officer core.

"We learned a lot about Slovenia, the Slovenian culture, how the Slovenian army approaches different things. I've seen a huge evolution," the brigadier general said, pointing out that the National Guard had also changed markedly in the meantime.

Elaborating on the roots and reasons of the cooperation with Slovenia, Clellan said that when the US was looking for partner countries for individual guards, formations with a tradition backing to 1636, the concept was to pair states with countries on the basis of similarities.

"Not only in terrain and geography but also in unit structure. So, we had infantry, mountain infantry, we had a special force and Slovenia wanted to develop a special forces unit," the brigadier general said.

The National Guard operates separately from the regular army. As Clellan explained, its "boss" is the governor of Colorado, who can task it with dealing with a natural disaster, social unrest or - as in the case of the last three years - a pandemic. But at the same time, every US President has the option to call up Guardsmen for missions abroad.


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