Holcomb talks with leaders of Slovakia about ‘expanding’ military cooperation

Holcomb talks with leaders of Slovakia about ‘expanding’ military cooperation

March 31, 2022 0 By Margaret Menge

The U.S. Embassy in Slovakia said this week Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb met with Slovakia’s defense minister to talk about Indiana “expanding” its military ties with the eastern European country.

Holcomb is visiting Slovakia, along with the head of the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Gen. Dale Lyles, in a visit that’s been described as having multiple purposes, including strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries and showing support for the Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia.

The visit also had a defense-related purpose.

On March 29, Holcomb and Lyles met with Jaroslav Nad’, Slovakia’s minister of defense, and with Gen. Daniel Zmeko, the chief of defense.

On Twitter, the governor said the meeting was to “reinforce” the Indiana National Guard’s more than 25-year collaborative relationship with Slovakia.

The trip by Holcomb and Lyles comes a month after the Russian operation in Ukraine began.

Slovakia shares a border in the east with Ukraine, and like Ukraine, is a Slavic nation. It is also a NATO country.

In February, Slovakia’s parliament approved a defense cooperation agreement with the U.S. government to allow the United States to expand its military presence in Slovakia.

In mid-March, its parliament approved the deployment of up to 2,100 NATO troops in the country, including troops from the United States, as part of a NATO “enhanced forward presence.”

And last week, NATO leaders made the decision to expand NATO’s military presence in the east, increasing the number of troops in countries including Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

When asked about Lyles’ trip to Slovakia with Holcomb, a spokesperson for the Indiana National Guard had said earlier this month in an e-mail that for the Guard, “these visits are common.”

“We visit Slovakia and our other partner nation of Niger, several times throughout the year,” said Lt. Col. Randi Bougere.

She did not respond to the question of whether the Indiana National Guard is involved in a military mission in Slovakia, or any other kind of mission, or will be in the future, only referring to military training, saying that through the partnership program, the Guard “has a long history of training with and supporting the Slovakian military.”

“Indiana Guardsmen frequently travel to Slovakia for a wide variety of combined training exercises,” said Bougere. “Maj. Gen. Lyles visits our partner nations to strengthen these relationships.”

Holcomb and Lyles departed for Slovakia on March 27. They will end their trip with a visit to Israel and return to Indiana on April 2.

In an interview with the Northwest Indiana Times published Monday, Holcomb said about Russian President Vladimir Putin, “I think the sooner he leaves the international stage the better for humanity, and if he wants to put his people first he would do just that.”

This week, Indiana announced it was canceling all investments, through the state’s retirement fund, in Russian companies – divesting itself of $147 million in Russian-related investments.

This followed Holcomb’s executive order issued Feb. 28, requesting several state agencies review connections to Russian companies.

This article was originally posted on Holcomb talks with leaders of Slovakia about ‘expanding’ military cooperation