- The R-SOCC will be fully operational by 2024.
- North Macedonia expected to officially join NATO in December 2019.
- Basically, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia will be US subcontractors in the region with special status.
Defense ministers from Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia singed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) creating a regional command of special operations. The signing of the MOU took place in the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. There is a possibility Austria can join in the future. Austria is not a NATO member. There are five countries which declared their non-alignment with NATO, including Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Malta. Although Austria is not a NATO member and a neutral country, they have a robust strategic military budget, and they share a physical border between Russia and NATO.
Furthermore, the focus is about special forces positioning in the Balkan region.The Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC) will be a temporary deployable command for the Special Forces. The strategy includes for the R-SOCC to be operational in 2021. A final phase will be deployed in 2024.
Moreover, the MOU signed in Brussels can be looked at as NATO strategy to overcome challenges in the Balkan region. NATO started showing intense interest in the Balkans after the start of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, including the Crimean region and Donbass. Serbia, which is located in the Balkans is a staunch supporter and Russian ally. It is a concern for NATO from a security prospective and Western geopolitical interests. Serbia is interested in joining the European Union, but refused to consider joining NATO.
Additionally, there is an issue about Kosovo, even though Kosovo partially recognized NATO. The Kosovo conflict (1998–99), in which ethnic Albanians opposed ethnic Serbs and the government of former Yugoslavia, gained widespread international attention and was resolved with the intervention of the NATO. There was a discussion of North Macedonia and Albania joining the European Union, but France and Netherlands vetoed membership due to improper reform methods taking place in both nations.
However, on October 23, the vote took place to ratify North Macedonia’s entry into NATO making it the 30th member. North Macedonia is expected to formally join the alliance at a NATO leaders meeting in December in London. North Macedonia has sought NATO membership for a long time, but was unable to join until it ended a decades-long dispute with Greece. In February, Macedonia changed its name to North Macedonia to end the dispute with Greece, who had been blocking its membership in NATO since 2008.
This year North Macedonia hosted REGEX 19. The REGEX initiative supports NATO objectives by: making partners familiar with NATO procedures; building trust and mutual understanding in the region; and promoting increased interoperability.
The creation of R-SOCC is an element of the examination of NATO infrastructure in Eastern Europe, specifically the Balkan region. Additionally, the newly created organization will work with other nations that are not NATO members. It is also making itself attractive for the smaller nations in Eastern Europe and less taxing on the bigger nations, who are already NATO members.
Basically, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia will be US subcontractors in the region with special status.
It is the right strategic decision for NATO and allows faster response time in case of conflicts in the region and to further geopolitical control in Eastern Europe.