U.S., Armenia to Hold Joint Military Drills

Armenian troops being inspected in Afghanistan in 2010


WASHINGTON (RFE/RL)—The United States and Armenia have tentatively agreed to hold first-ever joint military exercises that will highlight their growing security ties, the Armenian Defense Ministry announced on Friday.

Ministry spokesman Davit Karapetian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the drills will likely take place next year or in 2013 and involve U.S. and Armenian troops engaged in multinational “peacekeeping” operations. He said an agreement to that effect was finalized during U.S.-Armenian “defense consultations” held in Washington this week.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow and his deputy Celeste Wallander held the two-day talks with an Armenian delegation headed by First Deputy Defense Davit Tonoyan.

Tonoyan also met separately with U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and Eric Rubin, the newly appointed deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia. The Pentagon issued no statements on the talks.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said they took place “in a warm and constructive atmosphere.” “The parties expressed readiness to expand the spheres of cooperation,” read a ministry statement.

According to the statement, Tonoyan discussed with the Pentagon officials “joint exercises and trainings with the aim of participating in peacekeeping operations.”

Karapetian clarified that they reached a “preliminary agreement to hold joint exercises of peacekeeping forces of the two countries in Armenia in 2012-2013.” The drills will help to improve the interoperability of those forces, he said.

“This is very important considering the peacekeeping operations carried out by U.S. and Armenian troops in Afghanistan,” added the ministry spokesman.

Armenia last month almost tripled its participation in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan and currently has about 130 troops on the ground. Wallander praised the additional Armenian troop deployment there when she visited Yerevan later in June.

The Defense Ministry statement Tonoyan also discussed in Washington the training of Armenian military personnel in the United States. It said the two sides also mapped out “new areas of further cooperation” stemming from Armenia’s recent “strategic defense review.”

The review is part of ongoing defense reforms which are envisaged by Armenia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO launched in 2005. They are supposed to bring the Armenian military into greater conformity with U.S. and NATO standards.

U.S. and Armenian troops 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 the U.S.-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo have underscored Armenia’s desire to complement its military alliance with Russia with closer defense links with the West. Yerevan and Moscow bolstered that alliance last year with an agreement that extended Russian military presence in the South Caucasus country by 24 years, until 2044.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service in Yerevan, Wallander insisted that Russian-Armenian military ties are not an obstacle to growing military cooperation between the U.S. and Armenia.


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  1. Stephan said:

    This is great news.
    Recent discussions at the House Foreign Relations Committee Hearings revealed that some House Members expressed concern “Not to beat Turkey on the Head” because Turkey is Nato Member and is helping the US during the war efforts in Afganistan.
    I wish Armenia can expand its foreign ties and be considered “Friends of NATO” without adversely effecting Russian – Armenian military ties.
    This will diminish so called “Turkey’s importance” to the U.S and enhance Armenia’ s importance to the U.S.

  2. Svetlana Swanson said:

    This is great news.
    Monte Melkonian would have been very happy about this phase of US Armenia cooperation.

  3. Robert Klein said:

    As a half-Armenian who was in the US military, I think this is a great development. Armenia needs to improve relations with the United States.Armenians have always appreciated the great things that Woodrow Wilson did for the Armenians but it is sad that oil interests have made the US become close with Azerbajian. Armenia also needs access to Western military technology and training.

    • Realist said:

      Its pretty hard for Armenia to get close to the US when its not in our control Robert. The US like all nations is only “friends” or “close” to nations if it can gain from that relationship. The fact is compared to Turkey & Azerbaijan, Armenia has NOTHING to offer the US & is too close to Russia for their comfort. Many nations ask “Why does Armenia stay so close to Russia, why not break away like Georgia or Azerbaijan??” The answer is simple, look what happened to Georgia in 2008, russia took 25% of the georgia in 2 days and the whole world including the US and nato stood by and did NOTHING though they promised so much blah blah and the georgians were so cocky and sure the americans and nato would help. The fact is Azerbaijan has turkey to protect it as well. If Armenia leaves Russias side, and Azerbaijan and turkey pincer Armenia, who will come to protect little Armenia?? The US?? The EU?? HAH! The US has NEVER helped anyone but itself, and it cant even do that nowadays. No no…This century is the Asian century, the fact the US and Armenia have decent but not close relations is a good thing. The US is falling and failing and if Armenia isn’t dependent on the US, that means we wont suffer AS BAD when she finally sinks which I PROMISE YOU she WILL in our lifetime.

  4. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    The ties that bind Armenia with Russia and America and indeed the entire Christian world are unshakable.
    This does become a clash of civilizations when by the Islamic standards; Turkey’s annihilation of Christians is no genocide, same as Sudan’s annihilation of its Christians.

  5. Arn.Sweden. said:

    The Signature Realist above has the Point.

    When the Mideast War starts,
    the US will stand With Turkey who stands with Azerbadjan against Iran and Syria in War.

    The Signature ArdeVast Artheian above has also a point but,
    Many God Guys are of Causes and Reasons on the Bad side and many Bad Guys on the Good,
    sadly but true.


  6. Sargis said:

    This like cooperating with Turkey on military. It’s a shame and an embarrassment, hopefully we will withdraw from these exercises.