By Emil Danielyan
The United States has provided $3 million worth of new military equipment to a special peace-keeping battalion of Armenia’s Armed Forces in an effort to make it fully interoperable with U.S. and other NATO troops.
According to the U.S. embassy in Yerevan, the assistance includes desert uniforms and clothing, boots, backpacks, protective masks, field equipment, medical supplies, cold weather clothing, and maintenance equipment. In a statement issued late Tuesday, the embassy said it is part of a $8 million program designed to make it easier for the battalion to take part in U.S. or NATO-led military operations in trouble spots around the world.
“With the arrival of additional shipments in coming weeks, the battalion should be fully equipped with U.S. and NATO interoperable equipment before the end of the year, thereby easing its logistical requirements regarding equipment re-supply during deployment,” the statement said.
The Armenian Defense Ministry issued no statements in connection with what the embassy described as the largest yet shipment of U.S. military equipment to an army unit whose soldiers and officers currently serve in Iraq and Kosovo.
Earlier this year, the Armenian peace-keeping battalion took delivery of a $1.2 million field hospital donated by the U.S. military. Anthony Godfrey, the then U.S. charge d’affaires in Yerevan, said the donation is meant to facilitate “future Armenian military deployments with coalition or NATO forces” stationed in various conflict zones. He had indicated earlier that Washington would welcome Armenian involvement in the ongoing multinational mission in Afghanistan.
A senior Armenian military official said recently that Yerevan is considering joining the mission.
The peace-keeping battalion was formed in 2003 with Western financial and technical assistance as a prelude to Armenia’s first-ever military deployments abroad. The Armenian government plans to turn it into an army brigade in the coming years.