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»We should not keep the army we are used to. We should build an army that we need.« (Charles de Gaulle)

On Friday, 12 May, Ivan Cankar Barracks in Vrhnika was the venue of a ceremony marking the establishment of the Slovenian Armed Forces Force Command. The keynote speech was given by minister of defence Ms Andreja Katič. With the movement of unit banners from the formation of General Staff units into the formation of Force Command units, commands and units were symbolically subordinated to the Force Command. Chief of the General Staff Major General Andrej Osterman handed over the Force Command banner to Brigadier General Milko Petek who exercises command over the forces.

Those gathered were addressed by Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces Major General Andrej Osterman, who started his speech by quoting General Charles de Gaulle: »We should not keep the army we are used to. We should build an army that we need.« He said that the formation of the units at the venue represented a contribution to the building of armed forces that Slovenia needs in these increasingly challenging times security-wise. The programme of the ceremony was complemented by a musical intervention of the Slovenian Armed Forces Band wind quartet.

The keynote speaker Andreja Katič noted that the Strategic Defence Review drafted last year identified the cancellation of the Force Command, which did not bring the expected effects, as the reason for the problems in the command and control process supporting the mission of the General Staff. The minister continued: “By establishing the Force Command, you have assumed the responsibility to substantiate the decision on its re-formation and demonstrate its effectiveness, which will be an important step towards better readiness of the Slovenian Armed Forces. The Force Command will be responsible to respond to various situations and to provide for adequate readiness of the Slovenian Armed Forces to react in the event of natural and other disasters or within EU and NATO response forces. I know you have the skills and competence to justify our expectations.” The minister expressed her expectation that General Staff and Force Command processes would not be duplicated and the Force Command will have clearly defined powers and responsibilities as well as the necessary level of sovereignty in managing the Slovenian Armed Forces. The establishment of the Force Command in Ivan Cankar Barracks, Vrhnika continues the process of SAF transformation in line with the Medium-Term Defence Programme determining organisational and formational changes in the SAF, which will provide for its effectiveness on strategic, operational and tactical levels. On operational level, the Force Commmand in its capacity as joint command will provide forces and exercise command over SAF commands and units in the Republic of Slovenia and Slovenian contingents abroad, and provide Host Nation Support.

In his address, Brigadier General Milko Petek said that every change brought numerous challenges which can be perceived very differently. »The re-establishment of the SAF Force Command is an important change and challenge for me as well as for you. I accept it in a positive spirit and assume the duty of Force Commander with an extreme honour. This duty comprises a number of new tasks, which are important both for our activities at home and our joint efforts on the international podium. High-quality performance is my standard as well as the standard of the organisation I work for. And this is what I will expect in the future. SAF members, dear colleagues, I have confidence in you, because every one of you is aware of your own respective missions and tasks as well as of our common ones.”

The Force Command is a joint command, which plans the readiness and operation of the Slovenian Armed Forces at home and in crisis response operations and enables the attainment of operational capabilities and their integration into the allied forces. Upon an order, it ensures the transition to higher levels of readiness and the mobilisation of forces, and manages their land, sea and air operations.
At the end of the ceremony, the minister expressed her satisfaction with the fact that the Government of the Republic of Slovenia had amended the decision on the increase of defence budget adopted in December, which grants a minimum growth of 30 million Euros per year. Moreover, it will allocate additional 24.3 million Euros to the 2017 defence budget.

Photo: Daniel Mlakar