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January 28, 2010


Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) issued a statement saluting the Armenian armed forces on “Army Day,” marking the 18th anniversary of the founding of the modern Armenian armed forces.

Although the initial development of the Armenian armed forces began as early as 1988, driven by the need to ensure the security and defense of Armenia and Karabagh, the evolution of a modern professional Armenian military was closely linked to the broader effort of state-building in the newly independent Republic of Armenia.

Now commemorated as a national holiday, January 28, 2010 marks the 18th anniversary of the founding of the modern Armenian armed forces.  On January 28, 1992, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian signed an official presidential decree ordering the formation of the Armenian Army. The newly-formed army was headed by the country’s first Defense Minister, Vazgen Sargsyan, who was instrumental in forming an organized, capable and professional fighting force.

With the assistance and expertise of many others, including such prominent veterans as Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan and Norat Ter-Grigorian among others, the initial formation of the armed forces overcame many significant challenges before emerging as a well-developed and disciplined institution.

Over the years, the Armenian armed forces has continued to develop, after a serious effort to modernize and reform led by several consecutive Ministers of Defense, including Vazgen Manukian, Serzh Sarkisian, Vagharshak Harutiunian and Mikayel Harutiunian, followed by the current Armenian Minister of Defense, Seyran Ohanian.

More recently, the Armenian armed forces has emerged as the dominant military force in the South Caucasus region.  On a unit-by-unit assessment, Western military experts and other independent analysts have consistently rated the Armenian armed forces as the most professional, combat-ready and best prepared military in all of the former Soviet Union.

Under the leadership of current Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, the Armenian military has only deepened defense reform and has emerged as active participant in international peacekeeping operations, including deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and, most recently, to Afghanistan.  The Armenian armed forces also follows a policy of “complementarity,” with a dual role as an active member of both the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program.

Armenian defense reforms have also involved much more than preparing for war through training and procurement, however.  The Armenian Ministry of Defense has also strived to develop brains as well as brawn within the armed forces.  Most notably in terms of military education, the Armenian Ministry of Defense has established the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy and the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), led by Major-General Hayk Kotanjian.  Under the leadership of Defense Minister Ohanian, General Kotanjian has initiated a serious plan to modernize and broaden military education in Armenia, and is now engaged in an effort to transform the Institute into a fully-fledged National Defense University.

At the same time, however, there is a need for continued reform within the Armenian armed forces.  Conditions within the military need to be further improved and more concrete measures need to be adopted to prevent the abuse of conscripts and the plague of Soviet-style “hazing” (“dedovshchina”).  In addition, the military must remain free from political interference and refrain from any role in the country’s domestic political crisis, in order to uphold the sanctity and institutional integrity of the armed forces and to guarantee stable civil-military relations.

Overall, Armenia now stands as a contributor, and no longer a consumer of international security.  But one of the most significant achievements of the Armenian armed forces has been its role as an institutional foundation for stability and security in both the Republic of Armenia and throughout the broader region as a whole. Unlike its neighbors, Armenia poses no offensive threat and its posture remains strictly defensive in nature, rooted in the need to ensure the security of Armenia and Karabagh.  And unlike Azerbaijan, which has embarked on a dangerous and irresponsible surge in defense spending that not only threatens the delicate balance of power in the region, but has also sparked a new “arms race” in the South Caucasus, Armenia is committed to upholding stability and security in the region.

Thus, the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) salutes each of the men and women serving in the Armenian armed forces and applauds the sacrifice and commitment of every Armenian in uniform.  ACNIS also honors the solemn sacrifice of the many veterans who have sacrificed so much to uphold the security of Armenia and Karabagh, especially including those fallen heroes who have willingly made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to the cause of the defense of Armenia and Karabagh.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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Armenian version