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A U.S. Army Green Beret  prepares Albanian special forces soldiers for drills July 23, 2021. The Stuttgart, Germany-based U.S. Special Operations Command Europe said Thursday that it has positioned a new forward operating headquarters in Albania.
A U.S. Army Green Beret prepares Albanian special forces soldiers for drills July 23, 2021. The Stuttgart, Germany-based U.S. Special Operations Command Europe said Thursday that it has positioned a new forward operating headquarters in Albania. (Devin Andrews/U.S. Marine Corps)

STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. has established a forward operating headquarters in Albania and will use the facility in the Adriatic Sea-facing country as a home base for missions in the broader Balkans.

The headquarters will give U.S. special operators more logistical flexibility and better access to regional transportation hubs, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe said Thursday.

“The ability to rapidly move and train within the Balkans in close coordination with other allied and partner forces made Albania the best location for this effort,” said Maj. Gen. David Tabor, commander of Special Operations Command Europe.

A U.S. Army Green Beret observes close-quarter battle drills conducted by the Albanian special forces July 21, 2021.
A U.S. Army Green Beret observes close-quarter battle drills conducted by the Albanian special forces July 21, 2021. (Devin Andrews/U.S. Marine Corps)

Albania is a fellow NATO member. The move puts American special operators near such countries as Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Serbia, where Russian political, economic and military influence has been growing steadily stronger.

SOCEUR didn’t say how many troops will be based in Albania, but service members will be stationed there on rotational basis.

U.S. Army Green Berets assigned to 10th Special Forces Group reviews close-quarter battle drills conducted by the Albanian Special Forces, Albania, July 21, 2021. U.S. Special Operations Command Europe said Thursday that it has positioned a new forward operating headquarters in the small southern European country that will serve as a homebase for missions in the broader Balkans region.
U.S. Army Green Berets assigned to 10th Special Forces Group reviews close-quarter battle drills conducted by the Albanian Special Forces, Albania, July 21, 2021. U.S. Special Operations Command Europe said Thursday that it has positioned a new forward operating headquarters in the small southern European country that will serve as a homebase for missions in the broader Balkans region. (Devin Andrews/U.S. Marine Corps)

For U.S. European Command, the Balkans has been an area of concern for several years, even if the security situation there has been overshadowed by tensions with Russia in the Baltics and the greater Black Sea region.

For example, NATO countries have blamed Russian agents for destabilization campaigns in Montenegro, an alliance member that borders Albania. EUCOM’s Gen. Tod Wolters also has called the Balkans “primary targets of persistent Russian malign influence.”

A U.S. Army Green Beret assigned to 10th Special Forces Group observes close-quarter battle drills conducted by the Albanian Special Forces, Albania, July 21, 2021. U.S. Special Operations Command Europe announced plans to locate a forward-based SOF headquarters, on a rotational basis, in Albania.
A U.S. Army Green Beret assigned to 10th Special Forces Group observes close-quarter battle drills conducted by the Albanian Special Forces, Albania, July 21, 2021. U.S. Special Operations Command Europe announced plans to locate a forward-based SOF headquarters, on a rotational basis, in Albania. (Devin Andrews/U.S. Marine Corps)

For SOCEUR, the headquarters in Albania resembles similar sites in other parts of Europe.

The command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, also has small forward operation sites in Estonia and Ukraine, where troops coordinate training efforts with local forces.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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