By Kelly Schloesser, U.S. Army EuropeJuly 20, 2012
In a visit to the Caucasus region, U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling met with military and diplomatic leaders of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to further strengthen security cooperation and partnership initiatives.
"The partnerships we in U.S. Army in Europe have made with the region is one built on respect, which continues to grow, building the capacity of our militaries and furthering the security of the region and around the world," said Hertling following the visit.
In Tblisi, the USAREUR Commander met with the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saashkivilli, to discuss furthering recent security cooperation initiatives agreed to by both the United States and Georgia. Hertling thanked the president for Georgia's contribution to the International Security Force in Afghanistan and praised the military for their growth in capabilities over the last several years. The president likewise thanked US Army Europe for the numerous partnering and training oppurtunities.
Following the engagement with the Georgian President, Hertling visited the Ministry of Defense, where he discussed current challenges and future threats in the European region with the Deputy Minister of Defense, Siprashvili-Lee. Additionally, the commander met with the Chief of the Joint Staff, Lt. Gen. Devi Tchankotadze and Deputy Chief of Defense, Brig. Gen. Giorgi Kalandaze where they discussed further developing the Georgian military through further partnership, training exchanges, and exercises with the U.S. Army in Germany.
Georgia conducts their mission rehearsal exercises at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels before deploying to Afghanistan as a part of the ISAF. Georgia has consistently contributed a battalion over the past couple of years and in their next rotation will increase their contribution to two battalions.
In Yerevan, Hertling met with U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern and country team to discuss political, economic, and defense issues currently facing the state and region.
Following the engagement, the USAREUR Commander participated in a training demonstration at the Armenian Military Academy by the academy's cadets and Peacekeeping Brigade Soldiers. The training prepares Armenian forces for their particpation in NATO Peacekeaping Operations such as the Kosovo Force (KFOR). Hertling then traveled to the Ministry of Defense, where he discussed complex security issues in the region with the Minister of Defense, Seryan Ohanyan.
Additionally, the commander met with the Chief of Defense, Col. Gen. Yuri Khachaturov, and Deputy Minister of Defense, David Tonoyan. Discussions focused on building the capababilites of the Armenian military through further multi-national partnership events with the U.S. Army in Europe.
Hertling highlighted the importance of Armenia's support to NATO Peacekeeping Operations and contribution to International Security Forces in Afghanistan. He also noted the significant step for Armenia's military in training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Ceneter in Hohenfels starting later this year.
Hertling traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Baku and the Ministry of Defense discussing defense and security issues in the region with the Minister of Defense, Safar Abiyev and US officials. They discussed further developing the Azerbiajan military through partnership events, training exchanges, and exercises with multi-national partners and the U.S. Army in Europe.
Following the engagement, the USAREUR Commander participated in a visit with Commanders and Soldiers in the Operational Cababilitites Concept (Battalion) and the Peacekeeping Operations Battalion where they discussed equipment, logistics, and interoperabilty with NATO.
Hertling noted the importance of Azerbaijan's contribution to International Security Forces in Afghanistan where they serve in Turkey's Regional Command. They also discussed future plans for Azerbaijan's military training in Joint Multinational Readiness Ceneter in Hohenfels starting later this year.