The Armenian Army was formed in the late 20th century, and 20 February 1988 marked the start of the restoration of statehood and the establishment of an independent national army.
In those days, Artsakh and the entire Armenian-Azerbaijani border were at risk, and there was an issue of defending the people through our own efforts. The creation and the development of the army was the imperative of history.
The Armenian Army has passed several difficult and pivotal stages throughout the history of its development. In an interview with “A1+”, former Minister of Defense, general-lieutenant Vagharshak Harutyunyan recalled that the volunteer detachments were formed in February 1988 and were led by individuals.
The start of the second stage can be considered 20 September 1990 when the Special Battalion adjunct to the Ministry of Internal Affairs was formed and went on to become the core of the future Armenian Army. In those days, Chairperson of the Defense Committee of the RA Supreme Council Vazgen Sargsyan made a declaration and called on Armenians to join the Armenian Army, which was just being formed.
“Armenian volunteer detachments, as well as citizens and officers from almost all cities and provinces responded to the call to create the Special Regiment. Two months after the decision, nearly 5,000 volunteers had expressed the desire to serve in the armed forces, and the oath ceremony of the Special Regiment took place on October 5, 1990. The Regiment had nearly 26 officers. At the time, I was Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and was in charge of managing the regiment and the officers from the provinces. We even created a headquarters at the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” said Vagharshak Harutyunyan.
The third stage was launched with the establishment of a defense committee, which was formed by the government’s decision on May 4, 1991. Vagharshak Harutyunyan was the first deputy chairman in 1991-92, and the first army recruitment took place in 1991.
Even though it is accepted that the army was “born” in May 1992 and the first recruitment took place after the establishment of the Ministry of Defense in the republic, laying the foundation for the tradition of recruiting more and more temporary soldiers, the army has been around for more than 21 years.
On 28 January 1992, the Government passed the historical resolution “On the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia” through which it legally signaled the creation of the Armenian National Army. By the presidential decree, Vazgen Sargsyan was appointed the first Minister o f Defense. Sargsyan was already the chairman of the parliament’s defense committee and was a beloved commander for most volunteers.
Vazgen Sargsyan was followed by Vazgen Manukyan, Serzh Sargsyan, Vagharshak Harutyunyan, Mikayel Harutyunyan and Seyran Ohanyan. The last three were the only cadre soldiers, and this goes to show that there was already an issue of making the army professional.
“Today, despite all of its issues and hardships, the army is the only developed structure in Armenia that meets its objectives in the most difficult situations and in a state of war and ensures the security of our country’s borders,” said Vagharshak Harutyunyan in closing.