By Emil Danielyan
A team of U.S. military officials met with Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian on Friday after completing an unprecedented inspection of the Armenian Armed Forces that highlighted growing defense cooperation between Yerevan and Washington.
Sarkisian’s press service said the U.S. delegation led by Colonel Michael Andersen came away satisfied from their “defense evaluation” of Armenian army units and thanked the Armenian military for its “sincerity and transparency.”
“Colonel Andersen noted that although the Armenian army is relatively young, it already has many things to be proud of,” it said in a statement. “The colonel was particularly impressed with care shown toward soldiers and maintenance of the military hardware.”
Andersen was also cited as welcoming increased recruitment of Armenian military personnel on a contractual basis and making “observations” regarding the participation of reservists in military exercises. No other details were reported.
The U.S. officials already met Sarkisian at the start of their highly unusual mission on Tuesday. The meeting was also attended by the chief of the Armenian army staff, Colonel-General Mikael Harutiunian.
The Armenian Defense Ministry has not explained the purpose of the inspection of its forces. It is thus not clear if the inspection as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program or took place within the bilateral framework. But it does seem to reflect growing military ties between the United States and Armenia.
The deputy commander of the U.S. troops stationed in Europe, General Charles Wald, discussed them with President Robert Kocharian and Sarkisian in Yerevan as recently as on March 30. It was Wald’s second trip to Armenia in less than a year. Few of its details were made public.
(Armenian Defense Ministry photo)