HOHENFELS, Germany (Oct. 22, 2012) -- The President of the Republic of Bulgaria visited the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels Training Area, here, to observe Bulgarian Special Forces training during exercise Saber Junction, Oct 19.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commander, U.S. Army Europe, hosted Bulgarian President Rosen Asenov Plevneliev, as he observed Bulgarian Special Forces in action and participated in a ceremony at which the Bulgarian Land Forces Commander, Maj. Gen. Stefen Vasilev, received the Legion of Merit Award.

"I am greatly satisfied with the conditions, organization and intensity of the training provided to the Soldiers from this exercise," said Plevneliev.

Hertling shared similar sentiments.

"We see Bulgaria as a very strong and honorable partner to the United States of America," said Hertling. "Not only in combat in Afghanistan, but also the potential for Bulgarian and American forces together, helping to secure our countries and facing emerging threats that are growing not only on the European continent, but in the world."

Vasilev said he is satisfied with the excellent cooperation established between the Bulgarian Land Forces and U.S. Army Europe as it is a testament to the relationship that has been developed over the last decade and continues to strengthen.

"This is a great honor," Vasilev said. "I accept this as recognition of the dedication of all Bulgarian Land Forces personnel. We consider it as acknowledgment that Bulgaria is a reliable partner and ally in the fight against contemporary threats and protect global peace and security."

Plevneliev said that while we are getting more integrated, stronger, more effective and more successful, that only together can we face the challenges of the century ahead.

"Bulgaria is a small country, but Bulgarian people have the potential for greatness. Thank you for uncovering that potential," said Plevneliev.

Along with Plevneliev and Vasilev, also in attendance was the Bulgarian Minister of Defense Anyu Angelov, U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria Marci Ries, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Federal Republic of Germany Radi Naydenov and USAREUR Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. James Boozer.

U.S. Army Europe has presented Legion of Merit medals to deserving leaders across its area of responsibility to salute their dedication to creating bonds between the European countries and the United States that further multinational engagement, theater security cooperation, and force interoperability.

Saber Junction 2012, the U.S. Army Europe's premier training event, is a large-scale, joint, multinational, military exercise involving approximately 6,000 personnel from 19 nations and hundreds of military aircraft and vehicles. It is the largest exercise of its kind that U.S. Army Europe has conducted in more than 20 years.