Italy takes command of NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Bulgaria

  • October 21, 2022
  • 3 Min Read

Italy took command of NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Bulgaria in a ceremony on Monday (17 October 2022), with the participation of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov, Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini, and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Christopher G. Cavoli. “This is a historic day, because today we witness our first transfer of authority of command of a new battlegroup from one Ally to another,” said Gen. Cavoli.

Taking the lead of the NATO Battle Group in Bulgaria – a relevant element  within NATO deterrence capacity on the Eastern flank- means that Italy is taking over a relevant responsibility within the framework of the Atlantic Alliance, and recognizes the quality of our Armed Forces”.

Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini held a speech on the occasion of the NATO Enhanced Vigilance Activity Battle Group Transfer of Command Ceremony held at Novo Selo Base, Bulgaria. “Today’s ceremony – the minister said- is a symbol of NATO’s fundamental role, i.e.  ensuring freedom by sharing our responsibilities. It is a step that marks the friendship between our peoples and, perspectively, lies the foundations for an even more cohesive Europe and solid, long-lasting Atlantic synergy”.

“Those who seek conflict and destabilization will find a negotiating but firm posture by those who, confiding in the values of liberty, will remain vigilant, never giving up on its protection. And we will do that starting from areas of strategic relevance for the future of Europe, such as NATO’s eastern and Southern flanks, which today are especially critical”.

Then the minister continued:” We all call for peace, believe in peace, work to achieve peace. However, only the Atlantic Alliance can guarantee the balance of forces required to maintain peace”.

The Transfer of Command ceremony took place in the presence of Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, Chief of Defence Staff Adm. Cavo Dragone, and Commander- Joint Force Command Gen. Figliuolo. It was followed by a bilateral meeting with the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, and Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov. Within that context, Minister Guerini underscored “our strong will to develop a bilateral cooperation path with Bulgaria, in complementarity with our common commitment in organizations such as the EU and NATO, within our shared engagement for European security and stability”.

“Our shared perception of security threats gives even greater relevance to our relations, especially in this hard times, when the security fabric is gradually deteriorating because of Putin’s unjustifiable aggression on the sovereignty of Ukraine”.

Established in March, the battlegroup in Bulgaria consists of approximately 1,100 troops from several NATO Allies – including Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and the United States – and different maneuver, infantry, air-defence, anti-tank, and engineer elements. It is one of eight multinational NATO battlegroups; the others are in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. These battlegroups are multinational and combat-ready, demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic bond.

They operate alongside host-nation defence forces, by conducting exercises and vigilance activities. Their presence makes clear that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. NATO’s battlegroups form part of the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence in a generation. Italy now leads the battlegroup with the 82nd Infantry Regiment “Torino”, commanded by Colonel Francesco Alaimo.

Image: Italian Army Press Office