Exercise «BALKAN SHIELD 22»

1. Special Operations Forces from across the Balkans participated in Exercise Balkan Shield 22, which took place from 31 October until 10 November in ATHENS, Greece under the auspices of Hellenic Joint Special Operations Component Command.

2. The Balkan Countries Combined Joint Special Forces Exercise (CJSE) was initiated in 2011, within the context of the Balkan Countries Chiefs of National Defense Staff Conference, and it is hosted, annually, by a different country each year, with a different name and in a successive order.

3. In 2022, Greece hosted the Balkan Countries CJSE under the name
“Balkan Shield 22”. The participants were SOF from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Romania. Bosnia and Herzegovina was represented with a contingent of observers. The main purpose of the Balkan Countries CJSE is to promote multinational interoperability and cooperation in the
Balkan region.

4. During the first week, the training focus was on special operations tactics implemented by the Special Operations Land Task Group (SOLTG) and the
Special Operations Air Task Group (SOATG). The exercise tested the utilization of technological assets and the employment of modern tactics and techniques in complex and realistic scenarios.

5. At the end of the first week, the Hellenic Special Warfare Command hosted a Distinguished Visitors Day. Distinguished guests from the participating nations observed snipers, air and ground infiltration to assault the objective, and a combined multi-nation free-fall parachuting team, jumping from a C-27 aircraft. The challenging, fast-paced and demanding sequence of events, demonstrated the high-level of interoperability and readiness of the multinational special operations forces.

6. A unique feature in this year’s Balkan Countries CJSE, was the activation of a Special Operations Component Command (SOCC) to plan, command and control the training activities as part of a complex exercise scenario.
The inclusion of the operational – level staff process enhanced the overall understanding of the planning, preparation and execution processes, while fostering coordination and synchronization between the tactical and operational levels in a multinational frame.

7. During the DVDay, Chief of Hellenic National Defense General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros, stressed that, “The Balkan Shield exercise series is an example of multinational military cooperation aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in the Balkans”, while Lieutenant General Tsitsikostas, Commander of the Greek Special Warfare Command, stated that, “We are convinced that as we could act and operate side by side at the SOTU level, we are ready to operate together at the larger scale if and when necessary”.