US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with US and NATO troops in Bulgaria on Friday, where he told the troops that they are creating “trust” by training alongside one another.
“You can’t surge trust at the eleventh hour; trust is something you have to work on every day. And from what I’ve heard, it’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re building trust with, amongst, with our allies, and you’re learning more about each other, and I think that’s just fantastic,” Austin said.
The US troops that are in Bulgaria are part of the US troop deployment to reinforce the United States' commitment to the NATO alliance and to reinforce the Eastern flank.
Reporters traveling with Austin conducted a brief interview with an Army major who is on deployment in Bulgaria from his home base in Rosenberg, Germany.
“Our mission here with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment is to reinforce our NATO allies in the southeastern flank of NATO and also to train with them in order to assure our allies of US commitment to NATO,” Maj. Ryan Mannina said.
The focus of the US troop deployment there is to partner with Bulgarian land forces, Mannina said. The US troops are there to be a part of “NATO’s effort to stand up a multinational battle group here in Bulgaria,” he added.
Mannina said the soldiers there are “anxious” but “understand the strategic relevance of our mission.”
“We're very, we're very aware and attuned to the fact that there's a war going on only a few hundred miles from us and, and we, but I think the soldiers are also excited to be a part of something really important here and to understand the strategic relevance of our mission and assuring our allies and building combat credible forces on behalf of NATO,” Mannina said.