Ambassador Hovenier’s Remarks at the KSF Partner’s Conference

Ambassador Hovenier’s Remarks at the KSF Partner’s Conference, October 26, 2023

(As Prepared)

Minister of Defense Maqedonci, fellow Ambassadors, Lieutenant General Jashari, Brigadier General Bozicevic, Brigadier General Hammerstein, soldiers, diplomats and friends:

Good morning. It is a pleasure to speak with you today about our support for the Kosovo Ministry of Defense and the Kosovo Security Force.

The U.S. government is committed to supporting the KSF’s development both through NATO and through bilateral, U.S. – Kosovo assistance.

In the bilateral context, one of our strategic priorities is to support the KSF’s 10-year transition plan into a professional, multi-ethnic, NATO-interoperable force capable of executing the territorial defense mission, subject to civilian oversight.

For over four years, we have pursued this goal in accordance with the KSF’s Comprehensive Transition Plan.

Consequently, we have achieved together a number of security assistance milestones just this past year, a few of which, I would like to highlight here today:

First, the KSF has participated in 6 U.S. Army Europe exercises and competitions. This robust participation ultimately resulted in the validation of the KSF’s 1st Infantry regiment.

Over the past year, we provided 24 million dollars in assistance funds to train and equip personnel at the Ministry of Defense and the KSF.

One example of our training efforts was a U.S. military mobile training team visit to Ferizaj, where they supported the development of Infantry Basic and Advanced Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) courses at the KSF’s Training and Doctrine Command.

Additionally, 47 KSF officers received Professional Military Education at U.S. military schools alongside their U.S. counterparts, developing both the skills and networks that will make them more effective leaders and deepen our bilateral partnership.

In coordination with our German partners, we also sent 23 Kosovan leaders and professionals to the George C Marshall European Center for Security Studies in order to further deepen our strong ties and cooperation in the area of Defense.

And we have either already funded or will soon fund a total 5 advisors in the fields of Strategic Communications, Intelligence, Acquisitions, Cybersecurity, and Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution. These experts are on the ground here, providing insights into best practices and helping to advance Kosovo’s capacity across sectors.

I would be remiss if did not highlight and praise the excellent relationship between Kosovo and Iowa – a relationship that began with our National Guard state partnership program.

This Iowa-Kosovo partnership has resulted in 26 mil-to-mil engagements (and counting) which take place in both countries, but it goes beyond just mil-to-mil engagements.

In fact, President Osmani is traveling to Iowa this week, where I know she will be reinforcing this strong relationship in a number of sectors.

Despite its small size, the MoD has taken its position on the global security stage by becoming a regular participant at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

I also want to acknowledge that during the September 24 attack on Kosovo’s sovereignty and security in the north of Kosovo by an armed and equipped group of paramilitary assailants , the KSF and the MoD demonstrated their professional maturity, highlighting their reputation as reliable security partners by avoiding provocative rhetoric and refraining from actions that would have resulted in further escalation.

I’d like to recognize everyone here for your role in stabilizing the situation.

I look forward to continuing the path Kosovo embarked upon years ago with strong support from the United States to complete the Comprehensive Transition Plan.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak here today.