NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria -- Troops, distinguished visitors and members of the media gathered July 11 to take part in the opening ceremony of Saber Guardian 2017 at the Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria.

Saber Guardian is an annual multinational exercise rotating between Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine as part of U.S. European Command's Joint Exercise Program. Led by U.S. Army Europe, Saber Guardian consists of air and ground based forces and is designed to enhance joint operational capability with allied and partner nations. This year's exercise takes places in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania from July 11-20.

"The exercise itself, sends a strategic message on unity of efforts, military, and political solidarity," said Bulgarian Deputy Chief of Defense Vice Admiral Emil Eftimov.

Larger than past iterations, this year's exercise consists of approximately 25,000 service members from 22 allied and partner nations, and is the largest of the Black Sea region exercises.

"In exercise Saber Guardian we are demonstrating an incredible ability to deter -- by massing the combat power of a multi-national division," said Maj. Gen. John Gronski, Deputy Commanding General for the Army National Guard, U.S. Army Europe. "By conducting these exercises, we improve our freedom of movement across Europe, in particular the Black Sea region."

Across the Balkan region Saber Guardian 17 includes joint and multi-national live fire exercises, river crossings, mass casualty responses, and an air defense artillery live fire that demonstrates deterrence capabilities - while showcasing the ability to mass forces anywhere in Europe at any given time.

Gronski went on to say, "Bulgaria is a very important member of the NATO alliance, we train together as an alliance, and we deter together as an alliance."

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