After years of supporting peacekeeping in Kosovo and the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, Armenia is preparing to further expand its role in supporting global security. Armenia is in the final stage of completing an agreement to deploy approximately 60 soldiers to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission. Recognizing Armenia’s contributions and progress, the Department of State’s Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) selected the country as the only new partner to the program in 2013 and will now assist Armenia’s ongoing efforts to expand its peacekeeping capabilities.
The Global Peace Operations Initiative is a U.S. Government-funded security assistance program working to meet the growing global demand for specially trained personnel to conduct international peace operations by building the capabilities of U.S. partner countries to train and sustain peacekeepers; increasing the number of capable military troops and formed police units available for deployment; and facilitating the preparation, logistical support, and deployment of peacekeepers. GPOI promotes international peace and security, saving lives while reducing the burden on U.S. military forces, and helping set the stage for post-conflict recovery around the world.
GPOI works to build the peacekeeping capacity of countries currently contributing, or preparing to contribute, personnel to global peacekeeping operations. Created in 2005, GPOI enhances international capability to effectively conduct UN and regional peace operations. GPOI trains military and formed police units from among its 66 partner nations to serve in peacekeeping missions; supplies peacekeeping forces with essential non-lethal field equipment, such as uniforms, rations, and medical supplies; and refurbishes peacekeeping training facilities. Working in partnership with the Department of Defense, GPOI has helped train more than 255,000 peacekeepers and facilitated the deployment of more than 190,000 personnel from 38 countries to 28 peacekeeping operations around the world.
The Armenian military has been honing its peacekeeping skills since 2004 with personnel serving in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) peace mission in Kosovo and as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2009. GPOI is supporting Armenia’s willingness to take on a larger role in international peacekeeping with financial contributions for a peacekeeping training program and improvements of existing infrastructure at Zar Training base north of the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Armenia plans to refurbish the base by combining Ministry of Defense funding with GPOI support, making it the training base for a Peacekeeping Brigade which is staffed entirely by professional soldiers trained to NATO standards and ready to support UN/ international peacekeeping. Armenia’s goal is to field a full brigade, capable of maintaining a battalion deployed to international peace operations, by the end of 2016. We consider this a quick return on GPOI’s investment in training and infrastructure.
Armenia’s willingness to expand its role and commitment to international peacekeeping not only represents laudable progress for a country that has not yet celebrated 25 years of independence, but it also represents how U.S. security assistance programs like GPOI can enhance diplomatic partnerships that help us all work together to promote international peace and security.
About the Author: Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Van Meter, United States Air Force, is a military detailee currently serving as a Foreign Affairs Officer for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Plans and Initiatives.