Armed Forces of Armenia
|Armed Forces of Armenia|
|Հայաստանի զինված ուժեր|
Emblem of the Armed Forces of Armenia
|Founded||28 May 1918|
|Current form||28 January 1992|
|Service branches||Armenian Army|
Armenian Air and Air Defence Force
|Supreme Commander in Chief||Nikol Pashinyan|
|Minister of Defence||David Tonoyan|
|Chief of the General Staff||Lieutenant General Onik Gasparyan|
|809,576 males, age 15–49, |
870, 864 females, age 15–49
|637, 776 males, age 15–49, |
729, 846 females, age 15–49
|31,774 males, |
|Active personnel||51,580 (Army 45,580 Air Force & AD 7,000). There are additional 4,748 paramilitary. 21,363 (in command of NKR)|
|Reserve personnel||210,000 former service personnel with service in last 15 years|
|Deployed personnel|| Kosovo (106)|
|Budget||$634 million (2020)|
|Percent of GDP||5.5% (2020)|
|Domestic suppliers||Scientific-Production Association Garni-Ler|
|Foreign suppliers|| Russia|
|History||Military history of Armenia|
|Ranks||Military ranks of Armenia|
The Armed Forces of Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստանի զինված ուժեր) comprise two services: the Army, and the Air Force and Air Defense (a unified branch). Though it was partially formed out of the former Soviet Army forces stationed in the Armenian SSR (mostly units of the 7th Guards Army of the Transcaucasian Military District), the military of Armenia can be traced back to the founding of the First Republic of Armenia in 1918. Being a landlocked country, Armenia has no navy.
The Commander-in-Chief of the military is the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan. The Ministry of Defence is in charge of political leadership, headed by Davit Tonoyan, while military command remains in the hands of the general staff, headed by the Chief of Staff, who is Lieutenant-General Onik Gasparyan. Armenia established a Ministry of Defence on 28 January 1992. Border guards subject to the Ministry patrol Armenia's borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan, while Russian troops continue to monitor its borders with Iran and Turkey. Since 2002, Armenia has been a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia signed a military cooperation plan with Lebanon on 27 November 2015.
The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was ratified by the Armenian parliament in July 1992. The treaty establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of military equipment, such as tanks, artillery, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, and combat helicopters, and provides for the destruction of weaponry in excess of those limits. Armenian officials have consistently expressed determination to comply with its provisions and thus Armenia has provided data on armaments as required under the CFE Treaty. Despite this, Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of diverting a large part of its military forces to Nagorno-Karabakh and thus circumventing these international regulations. Armenia is not a significant exporter of conventional weapons, but it has provided support, including material, to the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.
In March 1993, Armenia signed the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls for the eventual elimination of chemical weapons. Armenia acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state in July 1993. The U.S. and other Western governments have discussed efforts to establish effective nuclear export control systems with Armenia and expressed satisfaction with Armenia's full cooperation.
The Armenian Armed Forces are Headquartered in Yerevan, where most of the general staff is based. Headed by Chief of Staff Onnik Gasparyan, the general staff is responsible for operational command of the Armenian Military and its two major branches. In addition to the services listed above, Armenia established its own Internal Troops from the former Soviet Interior Troops after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Up until December 2002, Armenia maintained a Ministry of Internal Affairs, but along with the Ministry of National Security, it was reorganised as a non-ministerial institution. The two organisations became the Police of Armenia and the National Security Service. In February 1999 the Deputy Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Internal Troops, Major General Artsrun Makarian, was found shot dead. In 2013 the International Institute for Strategic Studies attributed the force with four paramilitary battalions, 55 AIFV including 44 BMP-1, and 24 wheeled armoured personnel carriers.
According to IISS 2010, Armenia has 20 T-80 tanks, 137 T-72 tanks, 8 T-54/55 tanks and 80 BMP-1's, 7 BMP-1K, 55 BMP-2 and 12 BRM-1K. Wheeled APCs reported included 11 BTR-60s, 21 BTR-70s, 4 BTR-80s, 145 MT-LBs, 5 BMD-1S, and 120 BRDM-2 scout vehicles.
Although the Russians have supplied newer equipment to Armenia over the years, the numbers have never been sufficient to upgrade all ground force formations and many of the lower readiness units still have older, Soviet-legacy systems that have not been upgraded or in many cases effectively maintained. These older systems are placing great demands on the logistics system for service, maintenance, replacement parts and necessary upgrades, costing the army both financially and in overall readiness. The ground force is engaged in an effort of reassessment, reorganisation and restructuring, as the future of Armenia's defence needs a revised force structure and unit mix. The army sees the need to maintain much of its traditional mechanised formations, but is looking to lighten and make more mobile and self-sustainable a small number of other formations. It must develop these newer formations to support its international requirements and effectively operate in mountainous and other rugged terrain, but it must do this without affecting the mechanised capability that is needed to confront Azerbaijan's conventional forces.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has followed a policy of developing its armed forces into a professional, well trained, and mobile military. In 2000, the Centre for International Studies and Research reported that at that time the Armenian Army had the strongest combat capability of the three South Caucasus countries' armies (the other two being Georgia and Azerbaijan). CSTO Secretary, Nikolay Bordyuzha, came to a similar conclusion after collective military drills in 2007 when he stated that, "the Armenian Army is the most efficient one in the post-Soviet space". This was echoed more recently by Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Public Council, Russian Ministry of Defense, in a March 2011 interview with Voice of Russia radio.
The Army is functionally divided into Active and Reserve Forces. Their main functions include deterrence, defense, peace support and crisis management, humanitarian and rescue missions, as well as social functions within Armenian society.
The Active Forces mainly have peacekeeping and defensive duties, and are further divided into Deployment Forces, Immediate Reaction, and Main Defense Forces. The Reserve Forces consists of Enhancement Forces, Territorial Defense Forces, and Training Grounds. They deal with planning and reservist preparation, armaments and equipment storage, training of formations for active forces rotation or increase in personnel.
During peacetime the Army maintains permanent combat and mobilization readiness. They become part of multinational military formations in compliance with international treaties Armenia is a signatory to, participate in the preparation of the population, the national economy and the maintenance of wartime reserves and the infrastructure of the country for defense.
In times of crisis the Army's main tasks relate to participation in operations countering terrorist activities and defense of strategic facilities (such as nuclear power plants and major industrial facilities), assisting the security forces in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal armaments traffic and international terrorism.
In case of low- and medium-intensity military conflict the Active Forces that are part of the Army participate in carrying out the initial tasks for the defense of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. In case of a high intensity conflict the Land Forces, together with the Air Force, Air Defense and Border Guards, form the defense group of the Armenian Armed Forces aiming at countering aggression and protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.
Experiments in developing small arms have been undertaken in Armenia, producing the K-3 assault rifle, but Jane's Infantry Weapons estimates that the program has ceased, and the rifle is not in widespread service with the army. The AK-74 is the standard issue rifle of the Armenian Army with older AKMs in reserve use. Beside AK rifles Armenian forces use mostly Russian small arms like the Makarov pistol, SVD sniper rifle, and the PKM General Purpose machine Gun.
The Armenian Air Force consists of 15 Su-25 ground attack planes, 18 Su-30 jet fighters, 1 Mig 25, 16 Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunships, 6 L-39 trainer and attack aircraft, 16 Yak-52 trainer aircraft, 3 Il-76 cargo planes, 18 Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters, and 10 Mil Mi-2 light utility helicopters. There are an additional 18 MiG-29 fighter jets of the Russian 102nd Military Base stationed in Gyumri.
The Armenian Air Defense is the anti-aircraft branch of the Armed Forces of Armenia. It was equipped and organized as part of the military reform program of Lieutenant-General Norat Ter-Grigoryants. It consists of an anti-aircraft missile brigade and two regiments armed with 100 anti-aircraft complexes of various models and modifications, including the SA-8, Krug, S-75, S-125, SA-7, SA-10, SA-13, SA-16 and SA-18. Russia has SA-6 and S-300 long range surface-to-air missiles at the Russian 102nd Military Base. There are also 24 Scud ballistic missiles with eight launchers. Numerical strength is estimated at about 3,000 servicemen, with plans for further expansion.
In late December 2010, the Armenian Defense Minister, Seyran Ohanyan, officially acknowledged that the army are equipped with the Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles. The statement was made while the Minister was inspecting a new air-defense command point that maintains "state-of-the-art equipment" built specifically for the operation of the S-300's. Russian specialist started to train Armenian teams on sophisticated Missiles and Defensive Systems. The S-300 was paraded for the first time in the 2011 Parade and the only S-300 missile system (SA10 Grumble) which likes mobility. The S-300 is the main Air Defensive system that protects Armenia's air security. In the 2016 Armenian Parade celebrating the Armenian Independence BUK-M2 Air Defense Systems were shown. These systems were not part of the 200 million dollar contract agreement between Yerevan and Moscow but an agreement between CSTO partners. Other devices such as stem of electronic warfare (EW) "Infauna" and P-325U consist in the Armenian Armed Forces.
Military of Karabakh
In addition to forces mentioned above, there are around 20,000 active soldiers (80% of them are originated from Armenia) defending Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory which seceded from Azerbaijan in 1991 and is now a de facto independent state. They are well trained and well equipped with the latest in military software and hardware. The Karabakh army's heavy military hardware includes: 316 tanks, 324 armored vehicles, 322 artillery pieces of calibers over 122 mm, 44 multiple rocket launchers, and a new anti-aircraft defense system. In addition, the NKR Defence Army maintains a small air-force of 2 Su-25s, 5 Mi-24s and 5 other helicopters.
The Armed Forces of Armenia is constitutionally a conscript force, but there is also a growing number of professional officers. There were roughly 19,000 conscripts and 23,000 professionals serving in 2017. Enlistment, which is performed twice a year, is handled by military commissariats. Male draftees between the ages of 18-27 are obliged to present themselves in the commissariats for registration. People who have changed their citizenship or have dual citizenship are also subject to conscription, unless they have already served in the armed forces of another country. Since 2003, conscientious objectors can apply for alternative service. Draft evaders can not be appointed to public service positions. Citizens who have completed military service are registered in the reserve and are divided into rank and file, non-commissioned and commissioned staff of the reserve. Reservists can be called up to training musters and exercises in peacetime. Reserve obligation lasts up to the age of 50.
- Monte Melkonian Military Academy
- Armenak Khanperyants Military Aviation University
- Marshal Baghramyan Aviation Academy
- Yerevan State Medical University Military Faculty
- Foreign institutions for Armenian soldiers
Higher military education is provided by the National Defense Research University in Yerevan. It was established in 2016, on the basis of the Institute for National Strategic Studies.
Department of the Engineer Troops
7 September is defined as the Day of the Engineering Troops of the Armed Forces. It was founded by the order of the Minister of Defense in 1992. Since 8 September 2009, the Engineering Service has been reorganized as the Department of Engineering Troops in the Ministry of Defense. The following have served as heads of the department:
- Colonel Ashot Mardanyan (1992-1995)
- Lieutenant General Alik Mirzabekyan (1995-98)
- Major General Vostanik Adoyan (1999-2011)
- Major General Karen Abrahamyan (2011-2015)
- Major General Ishkhan Matosyan (since 2015)
Extensive work is underway in the defense zones of military units, unions and military units by the engineering troops to install large-scale equipment. In addition, the units of the Engineering Troops carry out humanitarian demining operations in the regions of Armenia, Artsakh, as well as in the framework of cooperation with NATO. The department's engineers have taken part in competitions of CIS member-states Armed Forces’ engineer corps, took the third place, whereas in driving contests of some engineer vehicles they took the first place.
Department of Signal Troops
The Signal Troops of the Armed Forces were formed during the Artsakh War. The main development of the military communication system began in 1992. In 1992, the Communication Department was formed within the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The educational base of liaison officers is located at the Khanperyants Military Aviation Institute, with the first batch graduating in 2006. The Communication Department has been headed by:
- Colonel Vladimir Mkrtchyan (1992-1993) (acting head)
- Colonel Alexander Balbabyan (1993-1995)
- Major General Arthur Papazyan (1995-2002)
- Major General Armen Baburyan (2003-2009)
- Colonel Ferdinand Solomonyan (2009) (acting chief)
- Major General Komitas Muradyan (2009-2016)
- Colonel Temur Shahnazaryan (since 2016)
The Armenian Army operates a wide variety of older equipment, mostly of Soviet origin. There is also some newer equipment from Russia. In 2015, a US$200m loan was ratified by Russia for the purchase of modern weapons between 2015 and 2017. Armenia produces its own combat helmets and body armors thought the works of a joint Armenian-Polish company. Some personal equipment used by special units (Ops-Core Future Assault Shell Technology (FAST) Helmets, plate carriers and special pouches) is imported, mostly from the United States. Armenia also produces most of its small arms, with only specialised units being imported.
Following the 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh clashes, the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly released a report, which detailed the circumstances of death of Armenian servicemen. Among the contributing factors were stated to be malfunctioning equipment and lack of necessary materiel, especially ammunition. This was followed by plans to increase Armenian defense spending to purchase more weapons and ammunition.
International military cooperation
Russia is Armenia's closest ally. The Russian 102nd Military Base, the former 127th Motor Rifle Division, is stationed in Gyumri. The military alliance of the two nations and, in particular, the presence of Russian troops on Armenian soil has been a key element of Armenia's national security doctrine since Armenia gained independence in 1991. Russia stations an estimated 5,000 soldiers of all types in Armenia, including 3,000 officially reported to be based at the 102nd Military Base. In 1997, the two countries signed a far-reaching friendship treaty, which calls for mutual assistance in the event of a military threat to either party and allows Russian border guards to patrol Armenia's frontiers with Turkey and Iran. In early 2005, the 102nd Military Base had 74 tanks, 17 battle infantry vehicles, 148 armored personnel carriers, 84 artillery pieces, 18 MiG-29 fighters, one battery of SA-6 and two batteries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. However, in 2005–2007, following an agreement on the withdrawal of two Russian military bases from Georgia, a great deal of military hardware was moved to the 102nd Base from the Russian 12th Military Base in Batumi and the 62nd Military Base at Akhalkalaki, Georgia. Russia also supplies weapons at the relatively lower prices of the Russian domestic market as part of a collective security agreement since January 2004.
According to unconfirmed reports by the Azeri media, Russia has supplied $1 billion worth of arms and ammunitions to Armenia in 1996; and handed over an additional $800 million worth of arms to Armenia in 2008–2009. According to AzerNews, the weapons in this latest transfer include 21 tanks, 12 armored vehicles, five other battle machines, a great number of rocket launchers, over 1,050 cases of grenades, nearly 7,900 types of ammunition, 120 grenade launchers, over 4,000 sub-machine guns, TNT fuses, mines of various types, 14 mine-launchers, 9 Grad launchers, five cannons, and other weapons.
Officer training is another sphere of Russian-Armenian military cooperation. In the first years of sovereignty when Armenia lacked a military educational establishment of its own, officers of its army were trained in Russia. Even now when Armenia has a military college on its own territory, the Armenian officer corps honors the tradition and is trained at Russian military educational establishments. In 1997, 600 Armenian servicemen were being trained at Russian Military Academies: the training was conducted by the Marshal Bagramyan Training Brigade.
At the first meeting of the joint Russian-Armenian government panel for military-technical cooperation that took place during autumn 2005, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov reported that, Russian factories will participate in the Armenian program of military modernization, and that Russia is prepared to supply the necessary spare parts and equipment. In accordance with this agreement, Armenia and Russia agreed to work together in exporting weapons and other military equipment to third countries in December 2009. The export agreement was signed by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and a visiting senior Russian official, Konstantin Biryulin, during a meeting of a Russian-Armenian inter-governmental commission on bilateral military-technical cooperation. The agreement envisages the two countries' interaction in exporting military production to third countries, which will help to strengthen the armed forces of the two states, and further cement the already close Russian-Armenian military cooperation.
A Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in August 2010 extends Russia's military presence in Armenia till 2044 and commits Russia to supplying Armenia with modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware at reduced prices.
At the beginning of 2009, Azerbaijani media published allegations that Russia had made extensive weapons transfers to Armenia throughout 2008 costing about $800 million. On 12 January 2009, the Russian ambassador was invited to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked about this information. On 21 January 2009, Russian ministry of foreign relations officially denied the transfers. According to the materials published by WikiLeaks in December 2010, Azerbaijani defence minister Safar Abiyev claimed that in January 2009 during his visit to Moscow, his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov unofficially had admitted to weapons transfers "after the second bottle of vodka" that evening, although officially it was denied.
Collective Security Treaty Organisation
On 7 October 2002, the Presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, signed a charter in Tashkent, founding the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) (Russian: Организация Договора о Коллективной Безопасности (ОДКБ~ODKB)) or simply Ташкентский договор (The Tashkent Treaty). Nikolai Bordyuzha was appointed secretary general of the new organisation. On 23 June 2006, Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO and its membership was formally ratified by its parliament on 28 March 2008. Furthermore, the CSTO is an observer organisation at the United Nations General Assembly.
The charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states, while aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all. To this end, the CSTO holds yearly military command exercises for the CSTO nations to have an opportunity to improve inter-organisation cooperation. The largest-scale CSTO military exercise held, to date, were the "Rubezh 2008" exercises hosted in Armenia where a combined total of 4,000 troops from all 7 constituent CSTO member countries conducted operative, strategic, and tactical training with an emphasis towards furthering the efficiency of the collective security element of the CSTO partnership.
The Ministry of Defense of Armenia has repeatedly stated that it would expect direct military assistance from the CSTO in case war with Azerbaijan resumes, as recently as December 2009, Defense Minister Ohanyan made the same statement. In August 2009, Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO's secretary-general, confirmed that official Yerevan can count on such support.
On 4 February 2009, an agreement to create the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (KSOR) was reached by five of the seven CSTO members, with plans finalized on 14 June 2009. Armenia is one of the five member states. The force is intended to be used to repulse military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and neutralize the effects of natural disasters.
Armenia participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PiP) program and it is in a NATO organization called Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Armenia is in the process of implementation of Individual Partnership Action Plans (IPAPs), which is a program for those countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO. Cooperative Best Effort exercise (the first where Russia was represented) was run on Armenian territory in 2003.
Greece is Armenia's closest ally in NATO and the two cooperate on multiple issues. A number of Armenian officers are trained in Greece every year, and military aid/material assistance has been provided to Armenia. In 2003, the two countries signed a military cooperation accord, under which Greece will increase the number of Armenian servicemen trained at the military and military-medical academies in Athens.
In February 2003, Armenia sent 34 peace keepers to Kosovo where they became part of the Greek contingent. Officials in Yerevan have said the Armenian military plans to substantially increase the size of its peace-keeping detachment and counts on Greek assistance to the effort. In June 2008, Armenia sent 72 peacekeepers to Kosovo for a total of 106 peacekeepers.
Lithuania has been sharing experience and providing consultations to the Armenian Defense Ministry in the field of democratic control of armed forces, military and defense concepts and public relations since 2002. Started in 2004, Armenian officers have been invited to study at the Lithuanian War Academy and the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia. Lithuania covers all study expenditures. In early 2007, two Armenian officers for the first time took part in a Baltic lead international exercise, Amber Hope, which was held in Lithuania.
The United States has been steadily upping its military clout in the region. In early 2003, United States Department of Defense announced several major military programs in the Caucasus. Washington's military aid to Armenia in 2005 amounted to $5 million, and in April 2004, the two sides signed a military-technical cooperation accord. In late 2004, Armenia deployed a unit of 46 soldiers, which included bomb-disposal experts, doctors, and transport specialists, to Iraq as part of the American-led Multi-National Force Iraq. In 2005, the United States allocated $7 million to modernize the military communications of the Armenian Armed Forces.
Since 2003, Armenia and the Kansas National Guard have exchanged military delegations as part of a National Guard Bureau program to promote better relations between the United States and developing nations. The program has largely consisted of mutual visits to each other's countries in an effort to share "ideas and [the] best practices for military and emergency management."
As of 2020, Armenia is involved in peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Mali.
There are 70 Armenian soldiers serving in Kosovo as peacekeepers.
Armenia joined the Kosovo Force in Kosovo in 2004. Armenian "blue helmets" serve within the Greek Army battalion. The relevant memorandum was signed on 3 September 2003, in Yerevan and ratified by the Armenian Parliament on 13 December 2003. The sixth deployment of Armenian peacekeepers departed for Kosovo on 14 November 2006. In 2008, the Armenian National Assembly voted unanimously to double the peacekeeping force in Kosovo by sending an extra 34 peacekeepers to the region, increasing the total number of peacekeepers in the region to 68. Armenia temporarily withdrew its peacekeepers from Kosovo in February 2012 as a result of the reduction of the Greek sundivisions. Armenia redeployed them in July to serve alongside American soldiers in Kosovo.
After the end of the invasion of Iraq, Armenia deployed a unit of 46 peacekeepers under Polish command. Armenian peacekeepers were based in Al-Kut, 100 km (62 mi) from the capital of Baghdad. On 23 July 2006, the fourth shift of Armenian peacekeepers departed for Iraq. The shift included 3 staff commanders, 2 medical officers, 10 combat engineers and 31 drivers. Throughout the length of the deployment, there was one Armenian wounded and no deaths. The Armenian government extended the small troop presence in Iraq by one year at the end of 2005 and 2006. On 7 October 2008, Armenia withdrew its contingent of 46 peacekeepers. This coincided with the withdrawal of the Polish contingent in Iraq.
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- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website https://www.state.gov/countries-areas/. (U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets)
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- Vladimir Petrov, How South Caucasus was armed, Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (Moscow, Russia)
- "Armenian National Security"
- Armenian Military Photo Gallery
- "Fit for a Fight?: Armenia and Azerbaijan flex military muscles, vow to not be overcome"
- Armenia, Greece Discuss Closer Military Ties
- Armed Forces of Caucasian countries