Hundreds of soldiers from a special Armenian army unit contributing troops to U.S.-led missions abroad ended on Thursday three-day military exercises which the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said confirmed their conformity with NATO standards.
A ministry statement said the 600 volunteer servicemen simulated their participation in a multinational peacekeeping operation in the presence of U.S. military instructors at a training ground of the NATO-backed Armenian Peacekeeping Brigade. It said they specifically practiced “deployment of rapid reaction forces” with the help of military helicopters.
The statement said the exercises also involved a successful “self-appraisal with NATO standards” by the brigade’s Staff Company. It said U.S. and other NATO “consulting teams” present at the drills agreed with this assessment and reaffirmed the Armenian unit’s interoperability with NATO forces.
The participating troops apparently included most of the 116 Armenian soldiers who trained at a U.S. military base in Germany from August 16 through September 4. The U.S. military organized the field training for nations involved in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
Armenia resumed its participation in the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in July, sending a 35-strong detachment to the former Yugoslav province. Some 130 other Armenian troops currently serve in Afghanistan. The deployments highlight Armenia’s increased military cooperation with NATO and the United States in particular.
The NATO-monitored drills overlapped with five-day war games that were held elsewhere in Armenia by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance of five former Soviet republics. Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov watched their concluding phase with President Serzh Sarkisian and other senior Armenian officials on Wednesday.