TIRANA, Albania — The United States has provided 29 new Humvees to bolster Albania’s military capabilities ahead of military exercises in southeastern Europe, the Balkan nation’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim said the vehicles were part of a “priority project for the United States – to assist in the transition of Albania’s 2nd infantry battalion from a light infantry battle group to a motorized infantry battle group”

Albania, which is a member of NATO, will use the Humvees while hosting parts of multinational exercises this summer that are being planned as the largest training drills ever held in southeast Europe and which “will certainly showcase Albania’s importance in the region,” Kim said.

The U.S. previously supplied Albania with three Black Hawk helicopters and other Humvees. The tiny country is replacing outdated weaponry with equipment in line with the Western military alliance’s standards.

Albania joined NATO in 2009, and it has regularly assigned small army units to international peacekeeping missions and NATO operations.

“Albanian armed forces will always be with you, always with the alliance for the defense and security of our joint values,” Defense Minister Niko Peleshi said Wednesday.

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