A recent $57 million foreign military sale (FMS) to North Macedonia is expected to improve the nation’s security and bolster its cooperation in the NATO alliance.
The FMS case is being executed by the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command and includes 16 Stryker vehicles along with training, spare parts, weapons and maintenance support. North Macedonia has requested an amendment to obtain an additional 11 vehicles at a price tag of $36 million.
According to the North Macedonia Long Term Defense Capability Development Plan, the Southeast European nation is expected to submit annual amendments through the year 2025 in order to meet their final objective of 54 new-production Strykers.
Delivery of the first batch of Strykers is expected to begin within the next two years, according to USASAC’s country program manager for North Macedonia, Joan Morgan.
Morgan, an Air Force veteran, has worked for multiple combatant commands throughout the security assistance enterprise for nearly 15 years. She has spent the last few years working cases for North Macedonia.
“Since 2019, I’ve worked closely with our partners, the Security Cooperation Office, and enterprise colleagues Erich Buchler and Jason Branch from Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems to help develop the requirements for the North Macedonia case,” said Morgan. “This was a unique case for many reasons. For one, these Strykers will be the first new production flat bottom hull vehicles produced in over 10 years.”
Morgan is also working a case with North Macedonia for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), the first several of which are expected to be delivered this year, and the remaining to be delivered some time next year. She said the country plans to acquire multiple JLTVs, some of which will be equipped with M153 Common Remote Operated Weapon Station systems and Javelin anti-tank missiles. The Javelins, said Morgan will be the first-ever integrated on the JLTVs.
These significant strides in military modernization comes on the heels of North Macedonia being inducted as NATO’s 30th and newest member in March 2020. The U.S. State Department describes its partnership with the United States as bridging a wide range of shared, cooperative issues including political, economic, cultural, military and social.
“The United States strongly supports North Macedonia’s aspirations for full integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions and is committed to helping North Macedonia embrace inclusive democracy and citizen-responsive governance; fight corruption and discrimination; strengthen rule of law; continue to build upon achievements as a NATO ally and partner; strengthen and diversify its economy; promote media freedom; and build greater democratic institutions in a full, inclusive, multi-ethnic society,” according to the State Department website.
Morgan described North Macedonia as an important NATO ally, contributing to political and economic stability in Europe, but also noted its contribution to U.S. foreign policy.
“A stronger partner equals a stronger coalition,” explained Morgan. “When our allies are stronger, they are able to defend their own borders; they contribute to regional stability; and ultimately they can participate more seamlessly in coalition operations, if and when the need arises.”
USASAC currently manages over 6,500 Foreign Military Sales cases, worth more than $217 billion, for 137 countries.