Analysis of Armenian Security and Conventional Warfare in the 21st Century
Armenian News Network / Groong
October 5, 2016
By Grigor Hakobyan
"In my opinion we don't have any other choice. Every Armenian
knows that if we fail to defend this little sacred land, we'll no
- Colonel Armen Vardanyan
Director of Air Defense Forces of the Republic of Armenia.
The quote is taken from a recent documentary called "My army. Our
Piece of the Sky."
As the Four Day War in April has shown, the conventional warfare in
Artsakh's battlefield has dramatically changed since the 1990s. The
early stages of battle are no longer about using large infantries
supported by armored columns marching across the battlefield but
extensive use of heavy artillery systems such as "Smerch" and
`kamikaze' drones tens of miles away from trenches. Furthermore, the
Azerbaijani military is not the same as it was before. Its military
capabilities have vastly increased for the past twenty two years as
well as the effectiveness of their tactical operations has greatly
As the Four Day War has shown, the amount of Azerbaijani firepower has
increased to the point of being able to break Armenian defenses in
certain areas along the frontline. Underestimating Azerbaijan's
military capabilities and overestimating Armenia's own military
capabilities may have been the main reason for the unexpected
consequences of the Four Day War. Ineffective command-control system
was perhaps another reason.
The Armenian response to the Azerbaijani onslaught revealed a number
of shortcomings discussed previously. Taking absolutely defensive
posture along the line of contact and using ineffective rules of
engagement were some of them. As a result the Armenian side incurred
significant casualties during the first forty eight hours of the
Azerbaijani Blitzkrieg. The amount of firepower unleashed upon the
Armenian troops defending their frontline was enormous.
Despite heroic resistance by Armenian frontline troops, territorial
losses became a reality. Granted, a lot has changed since then, but
few things are yet to be fixed. Developing asymmetric warfare and
hybrid warfare capabilities are some of them. Despite effective PR
campaign ran by the Armenian MOD during The Four Day War, lack of
psychological operations or hesitation to carry them out swiftly and
effectively to stop Azerbaijani aggression was apparent. The Armenian
military appeared to be using twentieth century tactics against means
of twenty first century conventional warfare unleashed against them.
To fix those shortcomings, Armenian forces need to develop such
devastating conventional warfare capabilities that will be tantamount
to a near-nuclear deterrence. Developing effective conventional strike
systems capable of destroying the enemy in a very short period of time
before even launching the first rocket-artillery strikes against its
positions is one of them. For example, launching a development of
domestically produced supersonic gliders capable of carrying multiple
warheads at breakneck speeds may allow Armenian forces to acquire
near-nuclear capabilities. Strikes against Azerbaijani military
installations by supersonic gliders will release enough energy to
equal the power of small tactical nuclear warheads.
Furthermore, Armenian forces need to invest heavily in their asymmetric
warfare capabilities such as cyber warfare. A major cyberattack against
Azerbaijani electric grid and other infrastructures of strategic
importance can breakdown Azerbaijani command-control systems wreaking
havoc upon their troops in the battlefield. Additionally, elements of
hybrid warfare need to be considered and studied further.
Armenia's defensive posture needs to be offensive in nature. Adopting
proactive defense measures such as carrying out surgical preemptive
strikes against large concentration of Azerbaijani troops and military
equipment along the frontline will be needed to prevent another repeat
of Azerbaijani Blitzkrieg. Anything different may undermine its
security and question the resilience of the Armenian statehood.
Grigor Hakobyan is an independent political analyst residing in
Phoenix, AZ and a former ANCA Fellow in Washington D.C. He is the
founder of a virtual think tank called Ararat Institute for Near
Eastern Studies. He was also a freelance writer for the Central
Asia-Caucasus Institute of John Hopkins University and has also
interned at the US House of Representatives for the Congressman Brad
Sherman researching ethnic conflicts and terrorism in Russia, Caucasus
and Central Asia regions and preparing summative reports for the
Congressman on subsequent topics.
Grigor also completed an internship at the International Center for
Terrorism Studies of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies where he
researched international terrorist networks operating in the Caucasus
and Central Asia regions and prepared congressional briefings for the
Director of ICTS on WMDs.
He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Arizona State
University and a teaching credential from California State University
Dominguez Hills. Currently he works as a teacher in Arizona.
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