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Soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team conduct a blank iteration of Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise during Exercise Decisive Strike 2019 at the Training Support Centre, Krivolak, North Macedonia, June 8, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Frances Ariele Tejada)

(Harrisburg) — About 1,300 Pennsylvania National Guard troops are in eastern Europe for the next two months to train with partner countries.

It’s the first time U.S. soldiers have trained on this scale in North Macedonia, which is bordered to the south by Greece.

Troops from units within the 56th Stryker Brigade are joining North Macedonian soldiers in live fire exercises as part of Decisive Strike 2019. They’ll use weapons such as rifles, machine guns, and mortars to move tactically through various scenarios.

“I think it’s extremely important that this training opportunity also demonstrates our resolve to help improve security and deter any potential aggression and maintain enhanced security for North Macedonia and the region in general,” said brigade commander Colonel Mike Wegscheider.

The training exercise is one of a series the U.S. Army is coordinating this year across eastern Europe.

Wegscheider said the mission will improve combat readiness and build relationships between the two countries.

“So, when North Macedonia joins NATO as the 30th member our militaries will only continue to grow stronger and we’ll improve the security of the region,” he said.

North Macedonia had been mired in a decades-long naming dispute that kept the it from entering NATO.

It adopted its new name in February, clearing the way for membership to the military alliance.