According to Banožić, this will be an opportunity to discuss the possibilities of obtaining funding for further strengthening of the Croatian Armed Forces’ capabilities and procuring more weapons, such as Javelin anti-armor weapons
The second official visit of Defense Minister Mario Banožić and a delegation from the MoD and CAF, led by Deputy Chief of Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Siniša Jurković, started on Monday, October 16, 2023. Due to the long-standing and strong partnership between the Croatian Armed Forces and the Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota was the first stop there.
On the first day of the visit, Minister Banožić met with Major General Shawn Manke, the commander of the Minnesota National Guard, and Major General Charles Kemper, the commander of the 34th Infantry Division.
According to Minister Banožić, the United States of America is Croatia’s most significant defense partner and strategic ally. A crucial component of this cooperation, he said, is the partnership with the Minnesota National Guard.
The Minister also stated, “We will hold a bilateral meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Austin, and a series of other meetings with various interlocutors in the State, the Senate, and other state institutions during the second official visit to the United States of America later this week in Washington. Furthermore, we will discuss the continued cooperation between the two NATO allies and the implementation of the ongoing projects to equip and modernize the Croatian Armed Forces.
“The times we live and operate in have once again served as a reminder that spending money on defense also means funding public safety for all our citizens. Therefore, it is imperative that we hold additional talks with our American allies about further development of our armed forces,” said Mr. Banožić. He proceeded by stating that the issue of buying more Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters will be addressed.
“However, this will also be an opportunity to discuss the possibilities of acquiring other assets, such as Javelin anti-armor weapons to further enhance CAF capabilities,” stated Minister Banožić. Namely, the official visit began in Minnesota, as the National Guard the Croatian Armed Forces have successfully cooperated within the framework of the State Partnership Program.
“We just had a meeting with Adjutant General Manke, the commander of the Minnesota National Guard, during which we exchanged views on the current security situation and our plans to continue working together on various projects, such as training our helicopter pilots and technicians and introducing Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles into the CAF.” In conclusion, the Minister said, “We also discussed new opportunities to implement joint exercises to strenghten interoperability between our armed forces.”
Generals Manke and Kemper greeted Minister Banožić, the delegation from the Ministry of Defense, and the Croatian Armed Forces in Minnesota and expressed their satisfaction at the confirmation of the long-standing partnership between the CAF and the Minnesota National Guard. On this occasion, the generals reaffirmed their support for the initiatives aimed at equipping and modernising the Croatian Armed Forces and the Minnesota National Guard, highlighting the latter’s excellent cooperation with the former as being especially noteworthy and evident in the area of joint training and exercises.
As previously stated, this is Minister Banožić’s second official visit to the US after his visit in July 2021, when he attended the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the State Partnership Program, an initiative of the US federal states and the Ministry of Defense, at the invitation of Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke. The program’s main objective is to support the US bilateral partners in developing their armed forces’ capabilities.