Deputy Chief of Romania's Defence Staff Vasile Toader on Thursday closed the "Blonde Avalanche 20" multinational exercise at the Varsatura shooting range, Braila County, for the first time held under the rigours of physical distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.In his speech to the event, Toader expressed his gratitude to the military and civilians involved in the exercise who lived up to their missions even amidst a pandemic.
"Coordination between civilian and military actors is essential in carrying out these types of activities, and today we proved that we have a close cooperation with various respondents in Romania. I have to add here the Braila Emergency Management Inspectorate, the Gendarmerie, the Border Police and the Red Cross," said Toader.
He also underlined the support that the exercise received from the National Guard of the State of Alabama, the United States of America, and mentioned that the joint military exercise also had an online component, videoconferences with army leaders from Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine.
"I am confident that the further conduct of this type of exercise will contribute to increasing security and stability in this area, achieving the objectives of close co-operation between the armed forces in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine, a co-operation that is grounded in mutual respect and solidarity," said Toader.
The closing of the multinational exercise included the promotion in rank of some Romanian soldiers, and also a Distinguished Visitor Day event, which involved a demonstration exercise, as well as an exhibition of military equipment.
The "Blonde Avalanche" exercise is a regional initiative designed to jointly train the staff of the Tisa Multinational Engineer Battalion, which includes soldiers from partner countries - Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary - in order to maintain and improve skills in organising, planning and carrying out specific missions to contain and eliminate consequences of natural disasters.
"Blonde Avalanche 20" is attended by about 200 soldiers from the national ground forces (engineering, logistics and EOD), air forces and the navy and partners from Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary in a virtual participation.
The exercise takes place annually, by rotation, on the soil of the signatory countries of an agreement among the national governments of Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Ukraine, with Romanian Army's engineer troops having participating in all the exercises carried out since 2002.
The 2020 edition takes place September 6 - 11, in a restricted format, in compliance with all the measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.