LJUBLIJANA, Slovenia -- Slovenian-born US General Frank Gorenc, NATO commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, discussed NATO activities and defence cooperation between Slovenia and the US with Defence Minister Roman Jakič and Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier Dobran Božič, as he began a two-day visit to Slovenia on Friday.
Gorenc praised Slovenia's contribution to international efforts, mentioning its share in the purchase of a transport aircraft and the country's valuable participation in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The four-star general, who is also to meet President Borut Pahor, is impressed by Slovenia "boxing in a much higher league" than would seem possible given the small size of its air force.
Jakič said he was happy that a Slovenian-born general plays such an important role in the US military as well "in the alliance, of which Slovenia is a part".
The pair focused on the activities of NATO, the minister said, while "part of the talks was also dedicated to cooperation between Slovenia and the US in defence, which has been excellent for years".
Jakič pointed to the 20-years long cooperation with the Colorado National Guard, including in the training of the Afghan army.
The minister's official visit the US, scheduled to begin on Monday, was also discussed, with Jakič announcing talks with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Jakič stressed that Slovenia remained committed to the goals of the international community with respect to preserving peace and security and singled out the Western Balkans as a Slovenian priority in this respect.
Gorenc immigrated to the US from Slovenia's Velike Lašče with his brother and parents in 1961 when he was four. They settled in Milwaukee. He was introduced to the military by his older brother Stanley Gorenc, a retired US Air Force general.