TIRANA (Reuters) – The United States Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) will open a forward-based headquarters in Albania on a rotational basis, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Thursday.
SOCEUR, based in Stuttgart, Germany, said on its website that the base in Albania would provide increased coordination with Albanian allies, important access to transportation hubs in the Balkans and greater logistical flexibility.
“This is a fantastic news … it is an expression of a very high credibility and a very close cooperation,” Rama said in a video message in which he read out the SOCEUR announcement.
Albania became a member of the NATO military alliance in 2009.
Highly trained and equipped with advanced communications equipment and weapons, special forces are often used in counterterrorism or reconnaissance operations. They can infiltrate enemy lines to tie down much larger numbers of opposition troops.
It was not clear what the role of these U.S. forces in Albania would be.
SOCEUR said its role is to “rapidly respond to emerging threats and if necessary, defeat aggression” together with its allies.
In the decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks U.S. special forces numbers more than doubled, their budget tripled and their deployments quadrupled.
The United States already has 600 troops based in Serbia’s former province of Kosovo to maintain the fragile peace more than two decades after the end of the Kosovo War in 1999.
(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci and Florion Goga; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Grant McCool)