For more than 15 years, the United States and Bulgaria have maintained a stable partnership in the field of security as treaty allies, with a common commitment to the security of the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Black Sea region, states the US State Department in a statement published on its website.
The United States works closely with Bulgaria on security-related activities both bilaterally and through regional and multinational organizations, including NATO, the European Union, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the brief said.
According to the document, over the past five years, the United States has provided Bulgaria with more than $238 million in security assistance to increase military professionalization, human resource capacity, cyber security, divestment of Soviet and Russian equipment, maritime space awareness, and interoperability. in NATO.
At the forefront of US-Bulgarian security, the partnership is the 2006 US-Bulgarian Defense Cooperation Agreement, which grants the US military access to and joint use of several Bulgarian military facilities, including the Novo Selo training ground “, and enables joint training of the armed forces of both countries.
In addition, the 10-year defense cooperation roadmap, signed in 2020, establishes a framework for the continuous development of Bulgaria’s military readiness and capabilities through sustainable defense cooperation.
The report notes that with the purchase of eight F-16 fighter jets, Bulgaria’s defense spending increased to over three percent of the gross domestic product in the fiscal year 2019. Bulgaria’s average annual defense spending continues to increase and is on track to meet NATO’s goal of two percent of GDP by 2024. From FY 2017 through FY 2021, the State Department has provided over $55 million in foreign military funding to enhance Bulgaria’s capabilities in military intelligence, secure communications, and defense cybersecurity.
From 2017 to 2022, the Department of State has provided more than $11.2 million through the International Military Education and Training (IMTE) program to enable Bulgarian military personnel to participate in professional military education and technical training courses alongside their American counterparts. colleagues. Since 1992, 5,395 members of the Bulgarian security forces have received formal training from the US, including 1,346 through VET.
According to the report, the US has active intergovernmental sales with Bulgaria in the amount of $1.4 billion under the Foreign Military Sales program. From 2019 to 2021, the United States authorized the permanent export of defense products to Bulgaria worth more than $28.8 million through direct commercial sales.
The document notes that in 1993, Bulgaria became one of the first countries to join the US National Guard’s Foreign Partnership Program, originally created to help build ties between the US and the countries of the former Eastern Bloc and to professionalize their armies. Over the past 29 years, Bulgaria and the American state of Tennessee have participated in over 600 military cooperation events, exercises, and cultural events that have promoted interoperability and mutual understanding.
Bulgaria participates in numerous bilateral and multilateral military exercises with the USA. In 2021, there were 127 military cooperation events between Bulgaria and the US with more than 1,500 Bulgarian participants, and over 1,300 Bulgarian military personnel participated in nine US-sponsored exercises. These interactions have helped make Bulgaria a more capable ally and have contributed to strengthening regional defense cooperation, the State Department statement said.