BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
It is Armenia’s National Armed Forces Day. The establishment of the Armenian Army was a critical turning point in the independence movement and in establishing Armenia’s sovereignty.
Soon after its establishment, the brave men and women of the Armed Forces did, indeed, bear arms and fight for the liberation of our nation, becoming a critical component in the Karabakh liberation struggle.
Today, almost two decades since its establishment, the Armenian Army has peeled away the remnants of the Soviet era and has emerged as a true force protecting our homeland and ensuring the security of our people. In comparison to the other Armed Forces of the former Soviet Republics, the Armenian Army, in its almost 20 years of existence, has already seen its fair share of combat, its troops have shed blood and national heroes have emerged from its ranks.
The victories of the Armenian Army should serve as reminders of the Armenian nation’s resilience in the face of adversity and its collective commitment to preserve our national identity and protect our national security.
In recent months, however, the headlines about the Army have been ugly. The government, which is tasked with the important responsibility of ensuring the integrity of the Army has failed. However, the isolated incidents that have cast a shadow on the true mission of the armed forces have also been leveraged by forces within and outside of Armenia to advance largely self-serving agendas that run counter to Armenian national interests. While not condoning the reported abuses in the Army, we must look past the headlines and realize that our National Armed Forces is not to be toyed with and used as a pawn in cheap political games.
Whether we are in Armenia or the Diaspora, the Armenian Army is one of those sacred institutions, which—regardless of whether we like or dislike the governing regime—is the symbol of our national integrity and service.
The mandatory service requirement provides each Armenian with the unique ability to serve his nation and through that service gain a life-long responsibility for our national imperative, ideals and aspirations. Only a strong Army can ensure that a strong nation prevails.