Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Defense: A Decade of Azerbaijan-U.S. Defense & Security Cooperation

SOURCE Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States

This month, a delegation of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan led by Major-General Ramiz Najafov, Head of the Ministry's International Military Cooperation Department, visited Washington, D.C. to participate in the Bilateral Defense Consultations (BDC), a crucial element of the Azerbaijan-U.S. strategic partnership. The objective of the Consultations held annually, alternating between Baku and Washington, D.C., is to review a full range of bilateral defense cooperation and to define future plans with American counterparts.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of establishing a formal framework for the defense and security cooperation between Azerbaijan and United States. In 2002, the already active bilateral defense and security cooperation was institutionalized and elevated to a qualitatively new level reflecting both the strengthening ties between the two nations and Azerbaijan's growing role in the region.

Azerbaijan is America's reliable friend in a vitally important area of the world and a strong ally in its fight against international terrorism and efforts to promote regional security. Immediately after the terror attacks of 9/11, Azerbaijan became one of the first countries to offer the United States unconditional support in the war on terror, providing its airspace and the use of its airports for military operations in Afghanistan. Today, Azerbaijan's strategic importance is on the rise as it continues to provide multi-faceted support for the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijani troops have been serving there shoulder to shoulder with U.S soldiers, just as they did previously in the Balkans and in Iraq. A key part to the Northern Distribution Network, Azerbaijan provides ground, air and naval transit for roughly 40% of U.S. and international coalition's supplies bound for Afghanistan. Every year, tens of thousands of American and allied troops fly through Azerbaijani airspace en route to Afghanistan and back.

While the Azerbaijan-U.S. defense and security cooperation covers a much wider range of issues, Afghanistan stands as an illustration of the depth and the strategic nature of the partnership between Azerbaijan and the United States.