After a nearly decade-long process working closely with the Kansas National Guard, the Armenian Peacekeeping Brigade earned certification as a NATO partner following a large-scale exercise in the Republic of Armenia Sept. 15-18, according to dvidshub.net.
The brigade earned the accreditation by passing NATO Evaluation Level 2 of the Operational Capabilities Concept of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The endorsement certifies Armenia’s capabilities to support NATO peacekeeping operations worldwide and adds them to the NATO Pool of Forces.
Command and control, communication, logistics, tactics, techniques and procedures were all under the microscope as four evaluation teams analyzed the various metrics and performance measures under the close supervision of a team of NATO monitors representing Germany, Austria, Ukraine, France and Sweden.
The brigade was evaluated according to NATO standards to ensure operational readiness.
Lt. Col. Ingo Schoeppler, Armed Forces of Germany, serves as a NATO monitor and noted the improvements he has seen.
“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,” Schoeppler said.
Schoeppler also credited the Kansas National Guard’s efforts in helping Armenia in this certification process. Kansas and Armenia are partners in the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.
The State Partnership Program builds relationships between a state’s National Guard and the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually-beneficial relationship.
“NATO is extremely grateful that the Kansas National Guard has such a close cooperation to Armenia and especially to this peacekeeping brigade,” said Schoeppler. “The Kansas National Guard plays a crucial part in the success and improvement of the capacity and capabilities of the unit.”
The exercise scenario played out over the course of 76 hours as Armenian soldiers were evaluated in three phases beginning with an in-barracks inspection focused on reviewing the units’ documentation and plans followed by a field inspection and live exercise.
The Kansas National Guard OCC team has had many interactions with their Armenian counterparts since being partnered in 2003. One month prior to the exercise, a nine-Soldier Kansas Guard team visited Armenia to assist with evaluation preparations.
“The peacekeeping brigade has improved vastly,” said Lt. Col. Richard Fisher, officer in charge of the KSARNG OCC team. “My first time in Armenia was in 2003. One thing that hasn’t changed is the motivation, professionalism and dedication of the soldiers.”
Fisher worked closely with Armenian Lt. Col. Armen Martirosyan in evaluating staff procedures.
“There’s a huge improvement both in procedures and paperwork, and performance as well,” said Martirosyan. “From my personal point of view, I’m very happy with what we’ve seen this year.”
Master Sgt. Samantha Wier, who has served as logistics subject matter expert on a number of information sharing trips to Armenia, also remarked on the improvement in Armenia’s forces.
“I’ve seen tremendous progress,” said Wier. “The Armenian army has their own version of how they manage to do things, but they have come a very long way in embracing the NATO tactics and paperwork, supply chain and systems that were unfamiliar to them.”
According to Wier, working with her Armenian counterparts is a give and take relationship.
“I enjoy working with my Armenian counterparts,” she said. “They enjoy practicing English with us. They’re very jovial, very smart in their fields. I’ve learned so many things that I can take back with me for my logistics career.”