On June 6, Armenia’s Ministry of Defense announced that women would now be allowed to attend military school—specifically, the Vazken Sarkisian Military Institute and the Marshal Khanperiants Air Force Institute—starting with the 2013-14 school year.
Women applicants must be citizens of Armenia, at least 18 years of age, and physically fit, and must excel in math and physics, according to the Ministry. Their health must allow them to engage in military school and, subsequently, military service.
The Vazken Sarkisian Military Institute was established in June 1994, when it was named the “High Military Multi-Nature Commander College,” and opened its doors to students in September of that year. In 2000, it was renamed the Vazken Sarkisian Military Institute. Major-General Martin Nazar Karapetyan, who participated in the defense of Ijevan and in the battles of Karavachar between 1992 and 1994, is its current president. The school has two faculties, infantry and artillery; both are four-year programs. It also offers one-year programs for more advanced training. The school produces commanders for various military divisions, including tank, intelligence, motor-infantry, field engineer platoons, military caterpillar engineers, wheeled vehicles, and artillery platoons. In the past, the Vazken Sarkisian Military Institute was open for only young men—civilians under 21 years of age and conscripts under 23.
The Military Aviation Institute was established in 1994. In 2005, it was named after Marshal Armenak Khanperyants. It currently offers four-year programs of study for those who wish to become engineers, aviators, officer-signalers, and officers specializing in anti-aircraft defense. The institute also offers a bachelor’s degree program. Colonel Daniel Kim Balayan is the current head of the institute. In the past, applicants had to be male high school graduates, or servicemen under the age of 23. The entrance examination tests applicants on the Armenian and Russian language, math, and physics. They also have to pass a medical examination; a physical fitness test that includes a 100-meter and a 1,000-meter run, and chin-ups; and an interview to assess psychological wellbeing.
The Ministry of Defense outlines three stages in the formation of the Armenian Army. The first lasted from February 1988 to May 1992, when Armenia engaged in a war with Azerbaijan over the independence of Karabagh. (The Ministry of Defense was established in January 1992.) The second stage was between June 1992 and May 1994, when building their respective armies became the key objectives for Armenia and Karabagh. The third period—from May 1994 to today—placed development as the main objective.
International military cooperation
Armenia is a founding member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and is active in various initiatives within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Committee of the Red Cross, and NATO.
In 2004, Armenia joined NATO’s peace-keeping mission in Kosovo, and continues to be a part of it, with 35 troops serving under the Greek Army battalion. From January 2005 until October 2009, Armenian troops were deployed in Iraq, and were mainly engaged in medical, engineering, mine clearing, and transport operations. In 2010, Armenian troops were sent to Afghanistan for peace-keeping operations under German command, securing the airports in Konduz and Mazari-Sharif, as well as a military base.
On June 4, the Ministry of Defense announced that Italy, which has been heading the UN peace-keeping mission in Lebanon, had asked Armenia to contribute troops to the country to maintain peace at the border with Syria. The Ministry is considering the offer.