Bulgarian, Serbian, and US troops held joint military drills near the city of Shabla in northeast Bulgaria on Thursday, as part of US European Command’s Joint Exercise Program.
During the drill, jets, helicopters, missiles and various systems were tested. Taking place on the Black Sea coast, the drills were also reportedly supervised by the Russian navy.
The troops were filmed practicing shooting from air-to-sea, ground-to-ground and ground-to-sea. In the process, many army machinery and systems were used such as MIG-29 and SU-25 combat jets, Mi-24 helicopters, S-125 surface-to-air missiles, 2K12 Kub mobile surface-to-air missile system as well as S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov who was one of the many officials supervising the drills on Thursday said that all three countries must to live in peace and not in war, as it would lead to casaulties.
Deputy Ambassador of US to Bulgaria Justin Friedman was also present along with a Serbian delegation led by its Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin.
The European Command’s joint exercise program looks to improve American interoperability with NATO allies and other partners and provide deterrence to Russia. The exercise program is designed, to an extent, to be transparent, which allows Russian leaders to see what American and allied forces are capable of.
European Command’s exercise program is focused into a five-year campaign, divided into northern and southern regions. The northern campaign focuses on the Baltic Sea and the southern on the Adriatic and the Black Sea regions.
In 2018, about 20,000 US service members participated in 13 major European Command exercises. The numbers remain the same this year.
Through the end of September, the European Command is set to host six exercises, while it's component commands will host more than 20 exercises. The exercises are scheduled to take place in Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, and Ukraine.