Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the Fifth Integration Conference in Albania. It is my pleasure to welcome you all in Tirana! A special welcome goes to our guests from NATO, Allied Command Transformation, Allied Command Operations and JFC Naples and I thank you for your presence in this conference as well as for your continuous support. As we all grow much more aware, the integration process in nor a self evident one, it goes through tough decision making, through molding of mentalities, different ways of planning and different pace of reaction. Therefore, we truly appreciate the assistance being given to our armed forces in all the areas of integration, be it in the doctrinal foundations, military capabilities or the structural framing of our entire organization.
Integration has been and still is a complex process which has taken a lot of dedicated time and a great deal of resources.
But yet, we are very proud about the progress the Armed Forces have undergone in these three years of multidimensional reforms. I take the opportunity to thank all of the military and civil staff for their patience, perseverance and solid will in undergoing all the indispensable reforms. Thanks to them the Albanian Armed Forces are comparable with other Armed Forces of the Alliance, with regard to focus, vision and comprehension. They are moving forward to interoperability and agility.
The outcome of any Armed Forces in measured in nothing less that the liability of its soldiers. And our soldiers are doing very good, as their NATO commanders have made us known. They are able, motivated and fitted for more.
Since the last ACT Integration Conference in Tirana, we believe we have made some very good progressive steps, sometimes I even call them “Leaps” with regard to the significant change that they bring about in terms of efficacy and outcomes.
of which I would highlight the work on the Strategic Defense Review; Defense Planning; Human Resources Management; Standardization; Logistics; Lessons Learned; Education and Training; Legislation; Demilitarization of excess Munitions and Surplus Materials etc.. Review of some other important strategic documents, such as National Security Strategy and National Military Strategy, ongoing, and it will continue parallel with the recommendations from SDR process.
We have been putting a special emphasis on the issues that concern Personnel Management, and have addressed some critical ones by introducing concrete policy measures.
I can mention here some of them:
- The Integrated Human Resources Strategy
- Database of the personnel (ongoing process, near to the end)
- Recruitment Regulation
- Training Regulation
- Retirements Procedures
- Casualty Procedures SOP (Lost of Captain FetiVogli, information flow, ceremonies)
- Procedures for the selection of the personnel going for study and qualifications abroad
- Procedures for the selection of the personnel participating in missions
- Personnel Promotion Regulation (ongoing process)
- Rank Promotion Regulation (ongoing process) Based in two principles: Transparency and Objectivity)
We have also devoted our interest to issues that concern the future orientation of any contemporary armed forces and we have drafted policies with regard to:
- Gender Equality
- Psychological and Social Support
- Environmental Development (ongoing process)
- Institute for Strategic Studies
- Books on strategic thinking
- Restructuring of libraries
- PR strategy and CIMIC; Center for Culture, Media and Military Publishing; Restructuring of Military Band; Public Cultural Activities; Cultural and sports activities for the families of the military personnel.
Beside all that, I would like to assure you all that the concerns raised during the last conference have been addressed seriously from the structures of the Albanian Armed Forces. The continuous contact we have had with ACT and JFC Naples through monthly teleconferences and other meetings has also been very important to the process.
We think that we stand ready now to meet most of the requirement in a very well thought and rationalistic way, which make it easier for us to develop working program and setting clear time lines for the implementation of the new defense package, in line with the Chicago Summit prerequisites and having in mind the common principles of Fair Burden Share and Reasonable Challenge.
We have also have been involved in the process of manning the new NATO command structure and we have defined our level of ambition to the manning of this structure and legal improvements are being implemented in order to meet the requirement of deployability. Last year we have worked seriously with projects which will fall under the framework of Smart Defense, with the aim of identifying realistic projects relevant to AAF and to the regional cooperation, ideas discussed with General Abrial as well during his visit in Tirana. Albania and our neighbor countries in the reagion seem to share common interest in areas such as Cost Guarding in the Adriatic Sea, air surveillance, and regional projects in civil emergencies, in which we are focusing.
The concept lying behind Smart Defense and the concept of redistribution of resources to be gained in times of less international missions, and in our specific case, by the end of 2013, the year of the closure of our demolition of excess ammunitions, have made us seriously think of how to achieve the best of our capabilities with less resources, in times of financial constraints, and how not to interfere the budget cuts with significant modernization projects. This will make us think more about the necessity in developing excellent future planners within our armed forces.
As I had the possibility to see, the agenda of this conference is very reach and addresses most of the important issues that Albanian Armed Forces continues to face and I believe it will provide a realistic vision of how to continue to address them in the near future. I expect syndicates to discuss realistically of the respective issues in order for this Conference to release in the end the proper recommendations needed for our way forward.
I am confident that this conference will meet its expectations of drafting a consolidated and well defined 2 years action plan.
In addition to the hard work, I urge you to take the time to explore and enjoy the variety of satisfactions that Tirana offers.
In closing, let me thank you very much again for your presence here, and while wishing the conference a great success, I am looking forward to hearing the results of your discussions.