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War in Nagorno-Karabakh - 2020 | Military analysis (article)

1.September 27th - November 10th, 2020 battles in Nagorno-Karabakh became one of the largest military clashes in the post-Soviet space in terms of the number of losses incurred by the parties (about 10 thousand killed, including civilians, over 44 days of fighting) and in terms of the intensity of losses - the average daily number of killed and the forces involved: up to 200 thousand troops in total by the end of the conflict.


2. In Karabakh, we saw a new type of war, in which robotic, remotely controlled equipment and high-precision weapons played an important role. This conflict should become the object of a close study of experts in specialized military institutions, primarily in terms of comprehending the balance of the forces and means used. This military campaign had the character of an asymmetric conflict, during which the opponents were at different levels of technical development and, accordingly, were looking for different methods of fighting each other.


3. It was yet another war of opponents with a fundamentally different level of technical development, for example, as the Americans had with the Iraqis in 2003. The Armenians, technically and tactically, remained in the 70s-80s of the XX century with tanks without reactive armor and without unmanned aircraft. The Azerbaijanis surpassed them by a generation or two; they had been preparing for revenge for a quarter of a century. The short border war of 2016 did not become (but should have) the first alarm bell for the Armenians: they made only private, limited conclusions that did not correspond to the situation and the degree of danger.



FORCES AT HAND:


4. By the start of the war, the Armenian side increased the number of armed forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR Armed Forces) from 18.5 thousand to 21.4 thousand people. Including 13 thousand servicemen were conscripts (18 -20 year-olds) from Armenia and about 8,500 fighters - local natives. At the expense of the population of Karabakh, the Armenian side could summon approximately another 7-8 thousand people; the rest of the shortfall would have to be replenished through mobilization from Armenia. The estimated limit for the deployment and supply of Armenian troops in the NKR was in the range of 80-100 thousand troops. This figure could be achieved in three weeks of intensive transfer of reinforcements along the roads leading from Armenia (with equipment; about an alternative to such transfer without equipment - below).


5. Organizationally, the Armenian troops in the NKR were brought together into two divisions and a separate command of the air defense. The first line division is the 10th Mountain Rifle Division (GDM) deployed in the front line, which included at least nine motorized rifle regiments (MRR), an artillery regiment, a tank brigade, and other divisional subordination units. The second-line division is the 18th Motorized Rifle Division (MRD), deployed as a second echelon, and at the end of the 2020 campaign had at least five mountain rifle regiments (MRR) in the south.


As a result, in fact, by the end of the war, the Armenians deployed a kind of mini-corps on the basis of each of the divisions, that is, the divisions, rather, had the character of administrative formations and operational commands. Given the fact that, taking into account the geography of the NKR, the Armenian side needed at least three such divisions: for operations in the north, in the center, and in the south. It was also possible to form a fourth division in the rear, capable of acting as an operational reserve. That is, in organizational terms, the structure of the NKR Armed Forces was imperfect.


6. Azerbaijani forces included five army corps, four of which were located on the territory of the main part of Azerbaijan (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th), and one, reinforced 5th corps, on the lands of Nakhichevan enclave. Of these, three corps and 15-16 motorized rifle brigades (MRB), as well as other units, including tank and artillery brigades, Azerbaijan could send into the attack on the NKR. That is one corp per direction - north, central, and south. It is a more perfect and appropriate organization than the Armenian one.


In fact, with the start of the war, Azerbaijan deployed six additional second-line MRBs, transferred troops to the organizational and staffing schedules of wartime by calling in reservists, and deployed reserves from the 4th reserve corps stationed in the Baku region. As a result, the Azerbaijani side launched over 20 MRBs (peacetime brigades - about 3500 troops), two tank brigades, artillery, mountain, and special units - up to 100 thousand people at the initial stage, which grew by the end of the war into an army of 150,000. Thus, Azerbaijan had a threefold advantage throughout the war.


7. At the same time, the main blow was delivered in the south, where in the chain of the mountains, surrounding NKR along the river Araks there was a narrow passage 10-12 kilometers wide, known as the Horadiz corridor. This passage led the bursting forces of Azerbaijanis into a wide funnel and a flat valley between the mountains, the Geyan steppe - a vast area for deployment and strike to the north, towards the main communication supplying the NKR from Armenia: the two-lane M-12 highway Goris - Lachin - Stepanakert. This is an opportunity to enter from the "back door", reach the communications, and put the Armenian side in a difficult situation.


8. Advances in the north had no prospect due to the difficult terrain.

In the center were located the main forces of the NKR Armed Forces and the 10th Guards Rifle Division. The main warehouses of the Armenian forces and a large part of the NKR population were also located here. The assault on the central position turned into a cross-fire attack, since the terrain here is a stepped climb up the valley in the shape of a horseshoe, with the enemy riding the slopes. In addition, the main road that feeds the NKR defenses, the mentioned M-12 highway, led here, to the center.


It turns out that the Azerbaijanis' offensive on the NKR could look either as flank attacks in the north and south, or as a major breakthrough in the south.


9. As a result, the blow was delivered in the south. In a narrow section of the Horadiz corridor, only 10-12 kilometers wide, the Armenians had only one 9th MRP against the main forces of the 2nd Azerbaijan Army Corps, that is, one regiment against three brigades


However, despite this and the technical advantage, the Azerbaijanis rather slowly gnawed through the defense of the Armenians on the so-called Ohanyan line, which encircles the NKR along the perimeter. By October 4th, on the eighth day of the attack, they had advanced only seven to eight kilometers. However, the "Ohanian's line" was soon broken through, and the attackers went out into the operational space.


10. Further, the Azerbaijanis deployed in the south on the basis of the 2nd corps a whole combined-arms army, including at least seven to eight motorized rifle brigades, a tank brigade with the T-90S, brought in from the 4th reserve corps, artillery and other units. Acting as a combined arms army, the 2nd corps deployed two corps groups, advancing on Hadrut-Fizuli and further on Martuni and Red Bazaar, as well as towards the Armenian border with a further turn to the north, to Lachin and Shusha, respectively. In total - up to 60-70 thousand troops by the end of the conflict (40-50% of all forces). It was this group that “made” the entire conflict as a result of the maneuver “from the back door”.


11. Azerbaijan had noticeably better logistics, which consisted of a greater capacity of the routes that approached the line of contact. The Armenians had only a few highways, and the M-12 provided the lion's share of the cargo traffic, the rest of the routes through the mountain passes had extremely low throughput.


In addition to highways on the plain, Azerbaijanis possessed two dead-end railway lines leading to the front. True, their throughput was also rated low. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan deployed at least ten times more troops to the front line per day compared to the Armenians. At the same time, “behind their backs,” a few tens of kilometers from the front, the Azerbaijanis had a general railway.


12. Thus, Azerbaijan received the opportunity to quickly raise its troops when needed, quickly move to the front line, not allowing the enemy to recover, concentrate its forces and undertake a general assault on positions. This was exactly what the Azerbaijanis practiced in the "experimental" campaign of April 2016. True, then the decisive assault did not follow.


13. The Armenians did not take into account or misjudge the situation in 2016, so they were not ready for the 2020 campaign. In the north, where Azerbaijan did not have railways, they concentrated three MRR (6th, 7th, and one more, with an unknown number) against the 1st Azerbaijani army corps. And as if they did not take into account the possibility of a quick march of Azerbaijanis in the south, the probability of a ramming strike in the Horadiz corridor, taking into account the railway passing through the Azerbaijani territory along the Araks.


14. As a result, the Armenians lost primarily strategically, and that is at the initial stage of the war. Due to the better condition of the transport network, the Azerbaijanis simply outplayed them in deployment, gaining the necessary advantage in numbers and in the initiative. Further measures by the Armenian side to counter the breakthrough here in the south resembled helpless attempts to extinguish a forest fire with buckets of water.





Reinforcement Movement Potential

15. Meanwhile, even taking into account the available resources, the Armenian side could outplay the Azerbaijanis and survive the war, creating a dense echeloned defense. This required literally within two or three days to transfer and put into operation several tens of thousands of people in the theater of operations. According to the standards of defense - 40-50 kilometers per division - the NKR required only four to five divisions in the first line (40-50 thousand people). Despite the fact that three calculated divisions (30 thousand people) were already in the theater of operations by the beginning of the war. The transfer of additional 40-50 thousand people remained impeded by the weak transport links between the NKR and Armenia.


Here the option, actively used today by the same American Armed Forces, came into play: troops were transferred lightly to the storage sites of weapons and military equipment, which were already directly in the theater of operations, and received everything they needed right on the spot.


16. In the case of Karabakh, it would take about a thousand buses and covered trucks to transfer 40-50 thousand Armenian lightly armed conscripts to the NKR, to their places of deployment - a feasible task, the solution of which would fit within two or three days of the threatened period. This deployment model required the appropriate organization, infrastructure, and training, which the Armenian side did not have (apparently, they did not even prepare for it).


17. The Armenian side has not deployed the maximum possible forces in the NKR. After the signing of the armistice and the end of hostilities, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted that a group of 20-30 thousand Armenian soldiers could be surrounded to the east and southeast of Shushi. In total, the Armenian side had forces of about 50 thousand people by the end of the war.


Meanwhile, two corps deployed in Armenia - the 1st and 2nd army corps in Goris and Khachakhbyur - came out to the aid of compatriots who fought in the NKR only partially. And this is up to 40-50 thousand soldiers. Apparently, this was the political decision of the Armenian leadership.


18. In addition, the direct entry of the 1st and 2nd army corps from Armenia after October 20th, when the Azerbaijani side reached the border, was hampered by their presence in the reach of Azerbaijani UAVs and artillery. Despite the fact that the timing of the movement of 40-50 thousand Armenian servicemen along the existing mountain roads through the passes left much to be desired: about two weeks, taking into account the known rate of movement along the indicated roads (three to four thousand people and several hundred units of equipment per day). During these two weeks, the Azerbaijanis could inflict serious damage on the incoming Armenian units, so they should have been introduced either in advance (before the Azerbaijanis reached the border in the south of the NKR), or along the safe routes of the M-12 (in the center) and M-11 (in the north ), or in smaller groups, in compliance with many camouflage measures.


19. Even with the fall of Shushi and the cutting off of the main transport communication of the M-12 Goris - Lachin - Stepanakert motorway connecting the NKR with Armenia, the resources of NKR resistance were far from exhausted. With their dash across the mountains, bypassing the main roads to Shushi, the Azerbaijanis were at the stage of exhaustion and found themselves in a threatened position. The Armenians still controlled the road to the Red Bazaar and the gorge of the headwaters of the Akery on the way to Lachin. In addition, if there were sufficient reserves on the territory of the NKR under the control of the Armenians, the latter could continue to wage the war in isolation, as in a vast fortified area besieged (for example, Port Arthur in 1904). Consequently, as already mentioned, the hasty winding down of the conflict became an exclusively political decision.


20. The situation was complemented by the incomprehensible position of Iran, which in forty days of conflict had transferred a hundred-thousandth army to the Araks and had opposite Azerbaijan and Karabakh by the beginning of November 2020 at least four divisions, eight separate brigades, air defense units and a number of other formations (up to 120 –140 thousand troops in two echelons). Most of these forces were concentrated on a narrow 100-kilometer section of the Iranian-NKR border - just in the rear and on the flank of the advancing strike group of the Azerbaijani 2nd corps. In the event that these forces entered into a conflict against Azerbaijani troops and given the potential of two Armenian army corps on the border of NKR with Armenia, which could also try to cross the mountains, the situation for the Azerbaijani 2nd corps was catastrophic on the southern face of the front. Strategically, 60-70 thousand Azerbaijani soldiers were surrounded here from three sides, under concentric attacks from the north, west, and south of the enemy forces, two and a half to three times superior to them.


21. However, in the end, success in the new Karabakh war was achieved not only thanks to the technical superiority and non-standard decisions of the Azerbaijani General Staff. As in the 1991 Gulf War (the example is given due to the similarity of a number of conditions), success also came with a numerical advantage. If at the end of the war in the NKR the Armenians had approximately up to 50 thousand troops, then the Azerbaijanis by that time had concentrated about 150 thousand servicemen against them - three times more. It's kinda like more than a million-strong United States-led coalition against 300 thousand soldiers of Saddam Hussein acted in 1991,


22. During the 44 days of the war, the Armenians transferred only 50 thousand people to the NKR (which was required for two or three days at the start of the campaign). Of these, 10-15 thousand were servicemen of the regular army of Armenia, the rest were volunteers and reservists. At the same time, the maximum possibilities of highways, excluding the load on supply, made it possible to transfer 130-170 thousand people during this period (three to four thousand per day). Naturally, the NKR defense, which was not properly supported by Armenia, fell.




Who Tied "Boyd's Loop"

23. Examples at the strategic and operational levels of the Karabakh theater of operations illustrate the concept of "Boyd cycles", as well as "Boyd's loop" - the position of the American military theorist of our time. This concept is expressed in a looped sequence: observation - discovery - decision - action. Within this sequence, Azerbaijan, due to its technical superiority, was ahead of the Armenian side.


24. Accordingly, the attempts of the Armenians to lure Azerbaijanis into traps at the operational level (to withdraw and flank, encircle and defeat - as in the Jebrail battle on October 10th-11th, the Zangelan battle on October 20th-21st, 2020), led only to defeats, high losses, loss of territory and combat capability of units, but did not slow down the enemy's offensive. On the contrary, they only grew. On the flat terrain of the Gayan steppe, the Armenians should have completely abandoned this course of action. In the battle of Jebrail alone, the Armenians suffered high and largely unnecessary losses, which turned out to be critical in the scale of the forces involved - an estimated two or three thousand killed and wounded in two days of fighting.


25. Attention is drawn to the activities of the Azerbaijani General Staff, which, it is possible, was carried out with the direct supervision and consultation of Turkish colleagues. In contrast to the rather stereotyped and predictable actions of the Armenian opponents, the Azerbaijanis acted flexibly and outside the box. For example, in the case of the breakthrough through the Horadiz corridor: it was not an advance into the depths of the Geyan steppe that followed, but first of all, actions to expand the "neck" of the breakthrough towards Hadrut and Fizuli in order to avoid Armenian counterattacks from the flank, under the base of the breakthrough.


In order to combat the enemy's fortified areas, not a direct assault on them was carried out, but first the squeezing of mobile groups of light mountain infantry and only then decisive actions. Shusha is the apotheosis of such mental activity. Passing through difficult terrain to the central fortified object of the attack without proper air support, with a series of distracting attacks on the M-12 highway between Lachin and Shusha, followed by a general assault and the occupation of Shushi itself, a heavily fortified and inaccessible position.


26. The losses turned out to be huge, primarily for the Armenian side. In a day, the parties lost over a hundred people (only killed). Armenian politician Mikael Minasyan said that the Armenian side lost 4,750 people as a result of the war. This could mean 20-25 thousand wounded, plus several dozen Armenians were captured. That is, the Armenians gathered up to 80 thousand armed soldiers in NKR, and 25-30 thousand of them were lost (30-40%, a very high proportion; after deducting losses, there were about 50 thousand soldiers mentioned above). First of all, this happened due to the huge qualitative and quantitative superiority of the enemy and a series of lost battles.


Azerbaijani losses were apparently comparable - in the range of 4,000-4,500 people (only killed) - since at the beginning of the conflict Azerbaijan suffered great damage by storming the "Ohanyan line", and later Azerbaijani troops were repeatedly ambushed and suffered losses by storming fortified positions.



Light Mountain Infantry tactics

27. In the conditions of the mountain war, heavy equipment inevitably found itself tied to road communications and various mountain passes - gorges and valleys. Under these conditions, the maneuver of the sides by "heavy" units in the theater of operations was limited and predictable, and the throughput of these communications was limited. In such a situation, the ability of "heavy" units to deliver surprise strikes and counterattacks inevitably ran into these limitations. This became especially important for the side, which was technically in a losing position and had to seek out asymmetric methods of counteraction. In particular, the Armenian columns often took a long time to arrive at the deployment lines, as a result of which the intention to launch a counterstrike was revealed, often long before the moment of readiness, and was parried. In addition, the troops as a result of this became vulnerable in narrow mountain passages and fell under enemy fire, and also fell into ambushes.


28. With the impossibility of using large masses of troops with heavy weapons, the tactics of light mountain infantry with portable weapons, special training and equipment became relevant. Troops capable of moving and taking positions in difficult terrain. This is a tactic of infiltrating mobile groups in complex rugged terrain, not relying on the deployed transport system used by the Chinese of the 14th Army and the PLA Special Forces during the Kokang war in Burma (Myanmar) in 2015, illegal armed groups (IAGs) in Chechnya in 1994-1996 and 1999-2005, as well as militants in Syria.


29. Apparently, it was for this purpose that several thousand appropriately trained Syrian militants were brought in and used in Karabakh by the Turks, and the Azerbaijanis themselves used all their possible special forces and all available mountain infantry. Even from the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR)


30. Mountain infantry, armed with light small arms, light mortars, ATGMs and MANPADS, as well as recoilless guns, could occupy the slopes and tops of mountains and, moving along the ridges, break through the enemy defenses in hard-to-reach places, get out of the way of communication, make rounds and to set up ambushes, adjusting the fire of artillery, UAVs, MLRS etc, to advance to important targets behind enemy lines (which, in fact, happened on November 6th-10th, 2020 near Shusha).


31. The tactics of the Armenian side relied on the old cumbersome system of fortified areas and massive marching columns was unable to allocate a sufficient number of mobile rapid reaction groups, and was almost powerless against enemy actions. It was, in fact, a tactic of passive defense and reaction to the actions of the enemy who owns the initiative, when much more resources were spent on counteraction than on the action itself. Even the knowledge of the area was not very helpful: the Azerbaijanis and the Syrians under their control often set up ambushes themselves, caught Armenian detachments, as, according to some reports, happened near Shusha in early November, when more than a hundred Armenian servicemen and militias were destroyed in one such battle.


32. However, the prospect of using light mountain infantry was limited by the difficult terrain, as well as the need to supply these units. Accordingly, decisive strikes were delivered at a shallow depth, after which the groups stopped and waited for resupply. This was the reason for the low rates of advance of the Azerbaijani side in the mountainous and foothill areas, near Hadrut on October 10th-18th, and near Shusha in late October - early November.


War at a distance

33. At the tactical level, the success of the actions of the Azerbaijani side, in addition to the use of light mountain infantry, was also conditioned by the use of a combination of UAVs - self-propelled artillery. Interaction was provided by satellite navigation (Azerbaijanis created a space center in Baku and launched their first space satellite in 2013 with the support of the French). At the same time, the scale of the use of attack drones remained relatively small: some Bayraktar UAVs were in the sky, according to various estimates, 8-15 units (this is not much), not counting the “loitering munition” drones and others. Correction and target designation (CTD) were supported both by satellite navigation and by sabotage and reconnaissance groups (SRG) that work behind the enemy line


34. The neglect of modern and massive unmanned aircraft was the most significant failure of the Armenian side during the war. In fact, the enemy dominated the air and had a picture of the battlefield in real time, while the Armenian side found itself in the "fog of war". Associated with this were the failures of the defenders at the tactical, operational and strategic levels - all levels of military art. Armenians started using UAVs only closer to the end of the conflict, while using outdated samples.


35. The reason for the domination of Azeri UAVs in the air was also the defeat of the air defense: Armenian air defense systems became a priority target at the beginning of the war. Further, the resulting imbalance was not evened out. In addition, the Armenian air defense system was not located and used in the best way and, as a result, had a low efficiency. The unmanned aviation of Azerbaijan, in fact, dominated the skies for most of the conflict, while official Baku used almost none of its manned aviation (planes and helicopters).


36. The Armenians used army aviation, apparently, including as interceptors, Su-25, but due to the lack of funds, it did not become a way out of the situation. In addition, electronic warfare (EW), bad weather, and smoke from forest fires were used as camouflage (the parties blamed each other for setting the fire). However, the success of countering the air threat could be ensured only with the integrated, systematic and massive use of these means, as well as with their own unmanned aircraft.


37. The weak and limited use of manned aviation by Azerbaijan is explained by the desire to minimize the risks of losing expensive aircraft and pilots in the conditions of a small number of its air group. The choice was made in favor of robotic, remotely controlled equipment (the losses of which were much less critical).


38. It is noteworthy that in the work of self-propelled artillery the Azerbaijanis used the Czech self-propelled guns "Dana" (although the Russian "Msta-S", "Pions" and others were also used). In fact, 36 self-propelled howitzers were brought together into a separate artillery brigade, which, moving from sector to sector on the southern front, provided the appropriate results. The Azerbaijani side itself, according to them, purchased the specified self-propelled guns "because of the rate of fire and other outstanding tactical and technical characteristics."


39. It is worth noting that the Azerbaijanis did not acquire the 155-mm Firtina self-propelled guns from their main ally, Turkey. Either in Baku they avoided disunification in artillery calibers, which would be a big problem for the suppliers, or the Turks themselves decided not to transfer this model of weapons.


40. The issue of using artillery in armed conflicts of the future as a key means of achieving victory, capable of inflicting up to 80–90% of all losses in battles, is key. Taking the Karabakh war in 2020 as an example, it may mean a gradual departure from towed artillery in favor of self-propelled, large caliber (150-210 mm), used from a long distance and often changing its positions, that is, operating as much as possible outside the radius of the enemy's weapons.




Some war trends

41. The Armenians were unable to force the enemy into long battles in urban conditions. It should be noted, however, that there are no large cities in the NKR, the largest settlement is Stepanakert (55 thousand inhabitants before the war). It is all low-rise buildings, there are no large high-rise buildings and complexes that can serve as defense centers in urbanized areas. Nevertheless, the Armenians surrendered a number of their large settlements without significant resistance (Hadrut, Zangelan), which raises some doubts about the ability to organize an adequate defense in the urban development. Theoretically, with the proper organization of defense, the Armenians could hold out in Stepanakert for a considerable time. An example is the successful and long-term defense of the Kurds against the Turkish army in the town of Manbij in Syria.


42. The Armenians also neglected the appropriate fortifications on the ground. Despite the fact that there was a wealth of experience to analyze actions against American mountain shelters in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel against Hezbollah in Lebanon and so on, this experience was never taken into account. The forward positions were poorly and carelessly equipped, there were many vulnerable open positions, and the mining of the approaches was also not carried out properly.


43. Taking into account the last war in Karabakh, as well as Israel's campaigns in Lebanon, the next development of fortification, capable of slowing down or stalling the movement of troops on the ground, became relevant. The fortifications should look like a system of interconnecting underground tunnels, with the possibility of reaching the surface and organizing fire damage from camouflaged closed positions. Mining is still relevant. Reserve lines of defense were required: the Armenians in the rear in the Gayan steppe, despite a number of loud statements and illustrations, in the end acted as if they did not exist at all.


44. In Afghanistan, Americans actively used anti-bunker bombs from long-range strategic aviation aircraft - which, of course, Azerbaijan did not have. Such a defense format proved to be good, for example, in Lebanon in 2006, when the Lebanese Hezbollah was quite successful in opposing high-tech Israeli forces.


45. The disadvantage of using precision weapons is their rapid depletion. This was the case in Iraq and Libya during the campaigns of Western countries there. This raises the question of ensuring the appropriate production capacity of the military-industrial complex, export substitution, the ratio of price and mass. The same applies to appropriately trained personnel - special forces, UAV operators, and others - whose loss as a consumable material, the inability to replace damage in a timely manner can lead to the deprivation of a number of technical advantages over the enemy and to sliding into war using conventional, standard means.


46. ​​The fall military campaign of 2020 in Karabakh showed the previous trend towards a decrease in the role of tanks and the growing importance of UAVs, ATGMs and artillery. Tanks, in fact, turned into a means of supporting the infantry, that is, they returned to the role that was assigned to them in most countries after the First World War. The use of tank subunits in the rank above a company (and often a platoon), their massive concentration turned out to be completely unjustified and only leads to an increase in losses.



47. The use of large mechanized and tank masses as a breakthrough means last proved effective in 2003, during the American invasion of Iraq. But there were quality six-lane highways, flat terrain, and no proper resistance. In addition, the Americans greatly outnumbered the Iraqis - in a number of technical parameters by two generations. And the Iraqis withdrew their troops into the field and dispersed them greatly, without creating defense centers and sufficient operational densities.


Thus, the use of significant tank forces for deep operations is today possible, however, in an appropriate area for this, with a sufficiently developed transport network and subject to an overwhelming qualitative and quantitative superiority over the enemy, which, moreover, is deprived of the possibility of sufficient resistance.


48. The use of long-range and powerful missile weapons and MLRS was also not optimal. In particular, the "Smerch" MLRS from the 41st special artillery regiment of the NKR Armed Forces - Artsakh Defense Army - was stationed in the Shushi region before the war. The rocket attacks on the Azerbaijani cities of Ganja, Terter and others looked more like gestures of despair, as well as terrorist attacks and revenge for a similar fire on Stepanakert. This state of affairs is apparently caused by the Armenians' lack of target designation, associated with the enemy's superiority in the sky and the need to act in the "fog of war". The Armenians, apparently, simply did not know where to shoot, so they acted like Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War in 1991, striking the enemy's civilian infrastructure. In addition, the Armenian side clearly lacked operational-tactical missile systems with high accuracy and low circular error probable (CEP), therefore, the old Elbrus missiles (according to the Western classification "Scud") with high CEP were used.


49. Attention should also be focused on the rather thorough approach of the Azerbaijani side to the information support of the operation. In fact, the deployment of troops was almost invisible to the media and the attack was carried out suddenly. This was significantly different even from the situation in 2016, when footage of the moving columns of the Azerbaijani army immediately got on the Internet, and on some resources the numbers of the units involved and their outfits were discussed. In the first days of the fighting, there was practically no leakage of information to the media from the Azeris, and then, when the conflict gained "information turnover", the work of the Azeri side on the propaganda field was much more massive and effective than the Armenian. This spoke of the significant and lengthy preparatory work that preceded the immediate armed conflict.


50. The possibility of organizing a guerrilla war for the Armenian side in the event that the Azerbaijanis occupy the entire territory of the NKR seems doubtful. Firstly, during the war, practically no sabotage actions were carried out (there in not one mention of Armenian Reconnaissance-sabotage groups anywhere), despite all the knowledge of the area and even in the conditions of the mountainous landscape near Hadrut and Fizuli. Secondly, the Armenians do not have its main resource for the guerrilla campaign - a large sympathetic population, primarily in rural areas. Just in the first three weeks of the war, most of the pre-war Armenian population of NKR - about 90 thousand out of 150 thousand citizens, 60% - fled to the territory of Armenia.


Original in Russian: https://expert.ru/expert/2020/48/karabah-2020-voenno-analiticheskij-razbor/

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