By Emil Danielyan
The United States said on Wednesday that it has donated $3 million worth of additional equipment to the special peacekeeping battalion of Armenia’s armed forces that sends troops to Iraq and Kosovo.
“The radios, antennas, various supporting equipment, and training, all purchased from the Harris Radio Corporation, further ensure the ability of the Armenian battalion to jointly operate with coalition and peacekeeping forces worldwide, and specifically in Kosovo and Iraq where Armenian contingents now operate,” the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said in a statement.
It said the equipment supply raised to $6 million the total monetary value of U.S. military assistance provided to the Armenian army unit in the past two years. That also includes a mobile field hospital, uniforms, chemical detection and protection equipment, and training. The statement added that the U.S. military plans to supply the battalion with trucks and additional communications and other equipment to assist in its planned gradual expansion into a full army brigade.
The volunteer unit, which sends small contingents to Kosovo and Iraq for six-month tours of duty, was created with the financial and technical assistance of the U.S. and other NATO member as part of Yerevan’s drive to strengthen its security links with the West. Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunian said last month that it will have a second battalion and see the number of its soldiers stationed in Kosovo doubled to 68 this year.