Paving the way for a further deepening of its ties with Armenia, NATO has assigned a higher degree of combat readiness and interoperability to an Armenian army brigade that contributes troops to its missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
The Peacekeeping Brigade received a “NATO Combat Readiness Evaluation Level-2” certification after being assessed by officers from the NATO headquarters in Brussels and the U.S. military during a four-day exercise held in Armenia last week.
“The endorsement solidifies Armenia's capabilities to support NATO peacekeeping operations worldwide and adds them to the NATO Pool of Forces,” Dvidshub.net, a U.S. Army website, reported on Thursday.
The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan hailed the development in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Friday. “International observers and subject matter experts from NATO Headquarters, U.S. European Command (EUCOM), and the Kansas National Guard (KSNG) highly praised the Armenian peacekeepers for demonstrating a great degree of professionalism and ability to work with teams,” it said.
“This certification advances the Peacekeeping Brigade’s capability to support NATO peacekeeping missions at the next level,” added the statement.
The Armenian Defense Ministry has issued no statements on the brigade’s exercise and ensuing upgrading of its NATO status.
According to Dvidshub.net, the drills were monitored by four NATO “evaluation teams” consisting of officers from the United States as well as Germany, Austria, Ukraine, France and Sweden. They evaluated the Armenian soldiers, all of them serving on a contractual basis, in accordance with NATO standards.
“The Peacekeeping Brigade has improved vastly,” Lieutenant Colonel Richard Fisher of the Kansas National Guard told the defense news publication.
“We witnessed that the Peacekeeping Brigade is in great shape with motivated, well-trained, young and experienced soldiers and are a very strong partner to the NATO alliance,” agreed Lieutenant Colonel Ingo Schoeppler of Germany.
The brigade has received considerable technical and material assistance from the United States and other NATO member states since it was set up in 2003. Many of its soldiers have participated in the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo on six-month tours of duty. Armenia keeps total of around 150 rotating servicemen there.
Armenia also joined last year a United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon with 32 military personnel. Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian expressed Yerevan’s readiness last month to commit more troops to the multinational contingent led by Italy.