US, Armenia to Hold Joint Military Drills

Delegations from US and Armenia meet in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The United States and Armenia have finalized plans to hold in April first-ever joint military exercises that will be primarily aimed at improving the interoperability of their forces deployed in Afghanistan, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan announced on Wednesday.

The announcement followed talks held between Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, the visiting deputy director for strategic planning at the U.S. military’s European Command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Montgomery was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador John Heffern.

In a statement, the Armenian Defense Ministry said the two sides discussed “issues related to organizing joint Armenian-American exercises.” The ministry spokesman, Davit Karapetian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) separately that they reached a “tentative agreement” to hold the exercises in Romania in April.

Karapetian said the exercises will last for one week and involve several dozen soldiers from the Armenian army’s special Peacekeeping Brigade that provides military personnel for the U.S.-led multinational mission in Afghanistan. He said they will engage in an “exchange of experience” with U.S. troops that will be “useful” for further U.S.-Armenian military interaction.

Plans for the landmark drills were first made public following First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan’s July 2011 visit to Washington. Tonoyan held what official Yerevan described as “defense consultations” with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow and other senior Pentagon officials.

The Washington talks came shortly after Armenia almost tripled its participation in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, a move praised by U.S. officials. It currently has about 130 troops on the ground.

According to the Defense Ministry statement, Montgomery also held a separate meeting in Yerevan with a top Armenian army general to discuss “Armenian peacekeepers’ participation in international missions.” The U.S. admiral also visited the Yerevan headquarters of the Peacekeeping Brigade.

U.S. and Armenian soldiers have until now trained together only in multinational exercises organized by NATO. Armenia has hosted two such exercises in recent years.

Those drills as well as the Armenian participation in U.S.-led military operations abroad have underscored Armenia’s deepening security ties with the West. The Armenian leadership has at the same time bolstered the military alliance with Russia that remains a key element of the country’s national security strategy. Celeste Wallander, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, insisted last year that that the Russian-Armenian ties are not an obstacle to Washington’s growing defense cooperation with Yerevan.

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The United States and Armenia have finalized plans to hold in April first-ever joint military exercises that will be primarily aimed at improving the interoperability of their forces deployed in Afghanistan, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan announced on Wednesday.

The announcement followed talks held between Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, the visiting deputy director for strategic planning at the U.S. military’s European Command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Montgomery was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador John Heffern.

In a statement, the Armenian Defense Ministry said the two sides discussed “issues related to organizing joint Armenian-American exercises.” The ministry spokesman, Davit Karapetian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) separately that they reached a “tentative agreement” to hold the exercises in Romania in April.

Karapetian said the exercises will last for one week and involve several dozen soldiers from the Armenian army’s special Peacekeeping Brigade that provides military personnel for the U.S.-led multinational mission in Afghanistan. He said they will engage in an “exchange of experience” with U.S. troops that will be “useful” for further U.S.-Armenian military interaction.

Plans for the landmark drills were first made public following First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan’s July 2011 visit to Washington. Tonoyan held what official Yerevan described as “defense consultations” with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow and other senior Pentagon officials.

The Washington talks came shortly after Armenia almost tripled its participation in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, a move praised by U.S. officials. It currently has about 130 troops on the ground.

According to the Defense Ministry statement, Montgomery also held a separate meeting in Yerevan with a top Armenian army general to discuss “Armenian peacekeepers’ participation in international missions.” The U.S. admiral also visited the Yerevan headquarters of the Peacekeeping Brigade.

U.S. and Armenian soldiers have until now trained together only in multinational exercises organized by NATO. Armenia has hosted two such exercises in recent years.

Those drills as well as the Armenian participation in U.S.-led military operations abroad have underscored Armenia’s deepening security ties with the West. The Armenian leadership has at the same time bolstered the military alliance with Russia that remains a key element of the country’s national security strategy. Celeste Wallander, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, insisted last year that that the Russian-Armenian ties are not an obstacle to Washington’s growing defense cooperation with Yerevan.

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7 Comments

  1. zareh said:

    Armenia should not have any military cooperation with NATO until NATO recognizes the Genocide. Armenia should not alienate its only true friend in the neighborhood, namely the friendly country of Iran.
    How stupid of them to allow NATO troops in our homeland when there is a Russian base in Gyumri.
    So NATO will help Armenia when Turkey(NATO) attacks Armenia. The height of stupidity. But I would not be surprised if some government hands were greased in Armenia through the American Embassy in Yerevan.
    Just look at the mansions on Babayan Street in Yerevan. You will know where the corrupt money is located. They loot the hard working Armenians in Armenia and get cream of the cake from the NATO embassies.

    • Jack said:

      Turkey will not attack Armenia. However there is highly probability that Azerbaijan may attack Artsakh when there is a war with Iran or any “disturbance” in the region. There has been military exercises with the US in the past, I don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s good that Armenia is neutral as it should be.

    • bayrakiniyakan said:

      with all respect to you Zareh ,but its not the way you think or the way you judging ,
      just think this way we are a sovereign state and we must play the game by international rules just like everyone else ,also remember now and in the past Armenian soldiers in Kosovo , Iraq , Afghanistan .

  2. Hay said:

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Armenia is playing this game very well with its balanced approach with all the world-powers.

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