War between the Armenians and the Azerbaijani army began on September 27, and Azerbaijani forces have prevailed. Last week, Armenia and Azerbaijan, through Russia, reached an agreement to end hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is considered by the international community to be part of Azerbaijan, but is inhabited by Armenians and, until recently, was fully controlled by Armenian forces.
Alex Melikshvili, a researcher at information and risk analysis firm IHS Markit Country Risk, said the scales in favor of Azerbaijan were weighed down by Turkey’s aid, which made the conflict “qualitatively different from any previous confrontation” between the two countries.
Azerbaijan has made no secret of the widespread use of drones purchased from Turkey and Israel in the last Karabakh conflict, both for strikes and reconnaissance.
Armenian forces simply could not adequately resist Azerbaijan’s technological superiority on the battlefield, says Kans Kasapoglu, a security and defense expert at the Istanbul-based Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies.
He points out that the Armenian forces did not have sensors to warn of drone attacks in time, nor effective anti-drone weapons.
The expert emphasizes that this conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has clearly highlighted the risks posed to traditional motorized combat units by the development of drone weapons.
Fuad Shahbazov, an analyst at the Baku-based Strategic Communication Center, also believes that Azerbaijan’s biggest advantage on the battlefield was its technological superiority.
Armenia is part of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, which means that Armenia mainly has access only to Russian-made weapons and military technology.
Shahbazov points out that 90-95% of Armenia’s weapons are made in Russia, while Azerbaijan has been able to diversify its weapons by purchasing weapons from other countries.
Azerbaijan’s rich natural resources play a key role here, enabling the country to use the proceeds from oil and gas sales to purchase modern armaments, including from NATO members.
Kasapoglu also points out that Azerbaijan’s technological superiority has manifested itself not only in its armaments, as Turkey has also introduced Azerbaijan to its doctrine of robotized warfare.
Azerbaijan is not shy to apply this newly acquired knowledge. Azerbaijan’s drone strike campaign is largely reminiscent of the Turkish army’s drone operation in Syria earlier this year, according to a study published by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, writes Kasapoglu.
Tactics of NATO Special Task Forces
The doctrine of robotic warfare is not the only thing that NATO member Turkey has handed over to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has also learned a lot from Turkey’s experience in the US-led coalition, which has carried out various special task force missions in the fight against Taliban militants in Afghanistan since the end of 2001.
In the Afghan campaign, the US armed forces made extensive use of small special task forces to carry out various “search and extermination” operations. The task of these units was also to “mark” the enemy’s locations, which were later used for air strikes.
As Turkey played a key role in the US-led mission in Afghanistan, the Turkish army learned a great deal about the use of special task forces in military conflicts. Turkey has also transferred this knowledge to Azerbaijan.
Shahbazov emphasizes that the fighters of Azerbaijan’s special task forces are mainly trained in Turkish military academies.
“Azerbaijan has learned a lesson from the losses of the 1990s war and the four-day clashes with Armenia in 2016. This time, Azerbaijan uses for the first time small groups of saboteurs who are active along the entire line of contact, ”the expert points out.
Photo: Life in Nagorno-Karabakh during the war
Photo: Battle of Nagorno-Karabakh