In what a senior U.S. diplomat called on Friday a manifestation of “strong American-Armenian partnership,” U.S. military instructors have trained the first group of teaching personnel for the Armenian army’s new paramedic school.
The 12 Armenian trainers of military medics completed a three-month training course conducted by six U.S. officers with a graduation ceremony near Yerevan attended by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ohanian said the course has been a “great opportunity” for Armenian military personnel to learn new skills and techniques for providing first medical aid to soldiers wounded in action. “You will now pass on your experience and knowledge to our future paramedics,” he said.
“You will save lives,” Mills said for his part. “Thanks to you, more of your brothers and sisters in arms will return home from places that others fear to tread, dangerous places where you agree to go in the name of peace.”
Armenia - U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills shakes hands of Armenian soldiers boarding a U.S. military transport plane, Yerevan, 3Apr2015 (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan)
According to the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, the training course followed a military curriculum used in the United States. “Thousands of pages of material were translated into Armenian, marking the first time the course has been offered in a language other than English,” the embassy said in a statement. “As a result of this successful partnership, other nations are requesting the U.S. military conduct similar courses in their native languages.”
The U.S. training is primarily designed for soldiers of a special Armenian army brigade that contributes troops to multinational peacekeeping operations abroad, notably the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. The volunteer unit has received considerable U.S. technical and material assistance ever since it was set up in 2003.
In 2007, the U.S. military provided the brigade with a mobile field hospital and trained over 40 Armenian medical personnel to operate the $1.2 million facility. It donated more equipment to the hospital in the following years.
Mills spoke on Friday of a continuing deepening of “the strong American-Armenian partnership” in various areas, including defense and security. “This training is one more example of our nations’ mutual progress, our joint friendship, and our strong trust and belief in one another,” he said. “I know our partnership will strengthen as we continue to face international challenges to security and stability that cannot be solved by any one country alone.”
U.S.-Armenian military cooperation appears to have been largely unaffected so far by Western powers’ standoff with Russia, Armenia’s main military ally, over the conflict in Ukraine. In particular, Armenian troops continue to regularly participate in U.S.-led military exercises held in Europe.
The Armenian military has increasingly participated in such exercises over the past decade in line with Yerevan’s Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO. The cooperation framework commits Armenia to contributing troops to NATO-led missions and implementing defense reforms meant to bring its armed forces into greater conformity with NATO standards.
Armenia - U.S. military instructors train Armenian soldiers, 28Feb2014.
As part of those reforms, U.S. military instructors have been helping the Armenian army increase the number of its non-commissioned officers serving on a contractual basis. About 50 Armenian sergeants underwent a weeklong U.S. training course near Yerevan last year.
Ohanian’s first deputy, Davit Tonoyan, visited Washington late last month for what the Armenian Defense Ministry called regular “defense consultations” with senior Pentagon officials. The latter reportedly pledged continued U.S. assistance to the Armenian peacekeeping brigade and the defense reforms implemented by Yerevan.
Citing information provided by the Defense Ministry to an Armenian non-governmental organization, Epress.am reported on Thursday that U.S. military aid to Armenia, including training and education programs, has totaled $42 million over the past decade.