Armenian soldiers reportedly took part in five U.S.-led military exercises last year, highlighting Armenia’s increased cooperation with NATO and the U.S. military in particular.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian listed those exercises along with Armenian participation in three other war games held by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in 2014 at a news conference in Yerevan this week.
One of the drills took place in March 2014 at the U.S. Army’s Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo where some 35 Armenian troops have been serving under U.S. command as part of KFOR, a NATO-led multinational force. The Army said at the time that they and soldiers from North Dakota National Guard jointly practiced crowd control operations there.
“The training was part of a weeklong process to give both U.S. and Armenian soldiers the skills necessary to quickly and safely load and unload from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters,” the Army said in an article posted on its website.
Ohanian also mentioned the Platinum Eagle exercise organized by the U.S. military in Romania in April-May 2014. It involved about 75 U.S. Marines and army units from Armenia, Macedonia and NATO members Romania and Bulgaria. The official purpose of the drill was to “reinforce relationships in a joint training environment and increase interoperability of allied/partner forces.”
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.
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 in February 2014.