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Studies on Strategy and Security

On 10 March 2007, the ARARAT Center for Strategic Research held a presentation of the book "Studies on Strategy and Security" at the Congress hotel in Yerevan.

The book is the 2nd volume of the PRO PATRIA publication series - selected studies with analyses and facts on strategy and security, compiled and edited by the Head of the ARARAT Center Dr Armen Ayvazyan.

Watch the video of the event here:


1. Introduction


The Introduction elaborates on the current strategic situation of Armenia, describing it as “a border situation” of to be or not to be. It exposes the historical and political reasons for the lack of Armenian qualified strategic analysis. The work of identification of national security threats and the means for their neutralization or minimization must be done exclusively by the Armenian intellectual resources, however limited they could presently be. It is concluded that the foreign advise in matters of strategy and security could be parti pris and based on self-interest.

The Introduction also briefly presents and characterizes each of the seven Chapters of the volume.

Read in Armenian.


2. Armen Ayvazyan
The Urgent Need for the Formation of the Armenian Strategic Thought


Armenia entered the new period of its independence as a country with a developed social infrastructure and economy. The intellectual potential of Armenia in numerous fields of economy and science was sufficiently advanced. Currently, the level of development of Armenia has declined sharply as a result of mass emigration following the 1988 earthquake, the 1991-1994 Karabakh War, the Turkish-Azerbaijani ongoing blockade as well as the country’s deficient governing.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that when Armenia gained independence there was a virtual absence of a cadre of first-class and experienced specialists in the fields of international relations and strategic studies. Even presently we experience an extreme scarcity of intellectual resources devoted to international studies which is typical for all former Soviet republics.

The severe shortage of independent analyses of notable value and the inadequate understanding of regional and international developments is a clear indication of our uncultivated intellectual potential in the field of international relations. The latter should be considered as one of the fundamental reasons behind the major mistakes made in the course of Armenia’s state building.

The big voids in Armenian strategic thinking are being filled successfully and inevitably by wrong and, at times, deliberately misleading conclusions of foreign origin.

The weak ability to independently think and analyze questions of national security is one of the most serious threats facing Armenia’s statehood. In the decades following the independence analytical centers researching the field of national security were not established and qualified analysts were not trained in Armenia, although such necessity had long been acknowledged. Yet the formation and advancement of strategic thought in Armenia is only possible under state sponsorship. The analytical centers functioning under the sponsorship and financing of the Armenian state and the Armenian political forces will be extremely useful for both the decision makers and the public in uncovering and examining the unique situation of Armenia’s security and the corresponding solutions.

The Armenian strategic thought should work in the informational-analytical, public outreach, military-theoretical, ideological and military-patriotic realms. Its products should be aimed at servicing the general structure of Armenia’s national security, neutralizing the large scale anti-Armenian propaganda campaign conducted by Azerbaijan and Turkey on the world stage, advocating persistently and meticulously the Armenian (including NKR’s) point of view, increasing the level of theoretical preparedness of the officer corps of Armenia’s armed forces and the dissemination of military-patriotic ideas and traditions especially among the young generation in Armenia and the Diaspora.

The article elaborates a comprehensive agenda for the Armenian strategic studies.

Read in Armenian.

3. Hrachya Arzumanyan
The Military Security of Armenia (Major Concepts and Definitions)


Ongoing dramatic changes in the geopolitical, military-strategic and spiritual spheres make it imperative to say that one of the priority tasks facing Armenians in the 21st century is the problem of ensuring Armenia’s national security and military security. Armenia should protect itself from military threats and create a military power capable of solving the military-political issues it faces.

Armed forces are the basis of the military power of states and the major means of providing the security of a country. Armenia has to undertake military reforms to harmonize the military organization of the Armenian state with the present-day challenges.

The Armenian intellectual and military elites should elaborate a theoretical basis for the existing military organization of Armenia, which was historically formed within the Soviet, and later the Russian, paradigm of army building before transformations in the military sphere in Armenia were initiated.

The article aims at introducing the main concepts and definitions as well as the methodology of research formed within the frameworks of Soviet and Russian military science. Naturally this does not imply that there is no need to study the military organization of Armenia within the frameworks of Western military culture.

Read in Russian.

4. Sergey Minasyan
Azerbaijan against the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic: Military-Political Balance, Assessments on Combat Efficiency and the Perspectives of the Development of the Armed Forces


The paper gives a general overview of the political-military balance of the parties in the Karabakh conflict zone, and provides the methodology for assessing the official quantitative data on their Armed Forces and the expert assessment of their combat efficiency, as well as their development potential.

The part of the paper that is devoted to the Armed Forces of Armenia contains recommendations for further reforming and strengthening them based on the prevailing technical and geopolitical realities in the Armenia-Azerbaijani confrontation zone.

The present-day conditions of Armenia dictate that the mixed and multilevel structure with the combination of a core of elite permanent preparedness units trained within the framework of the process of the Euro-Atlantic cooperation and keeping the draftee system, as well as the formation of territorial defense sub-units on a police-force basis should be the preferred model for building and staffing the Armed Forces.

Although the above mentioned model is theoretically appealing from the military and political points of view, no country in the world (with the possible exception of Israel) until now has been able to create a sufficiently effective system for staffing and building its armed forces on such a mixed basis. Therefore, as the article shows, the situation in Armenia dictates the necessity for long-term complicated reforms to introduce a similar model in the system of military structuring in the country. From the technical standpoint, substantial rearming of the Armed Forces of Armenia will remain a priority direction for enhancing combat efficiency.

The complete modernization of the armament and the military equipment of the Armenian army is impossible for economic reasons; therefore, the priorities of the reforms should be determined by the conceptual purposes aimed at in case of the resumption of combat activities, at retaining the established defense positions in Nagorno-Karabakh, active defense and subsequent offensive.

The article also attempts to analyze the possible development of the situation in the confrontation zone in case of drastic escalation or resumption of large scale combat activities. Despite the significant quantitative superiority in staff, arms and military equipment, the Azerbaijani army is at the moment unable to gain military superiority over the more efficient armed forces of Armenia. The possible growth in the Azerbaijani oil revenues will not necessarily facilitate the multiplication of the country’s superiority over Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and will not allow Azerbaijan to hope for definitive success in a single offensive operation.

Read in Russian.

5. Andrei Areshev
The Armed Forces and the Foreign Policy of Turkey: The Present Situation


The article studies the role and the place of one of the most important institutions in Turkey, the Armed Forces, within the context of the state governance system. The article outlines Turkey’s military organization including the top military-political leadership, the organizational structure, the numbers and armaments of the principal troops and forces.

A number of developments in Turkey point out to ongoing transformations in the country’s military strategy. The analysis of the principles of its military strategy show that being in the center of the Greater Middle East, Turkey will continue to play an important role in world politics.

The article studies the main tendencies of the development of the armed forces and the military industrial complex in Turkey, and arrives at the conclusion that the present radical military reform in the Turkish republic aims at strengthening the combat efficiency and the mobility of the military units, without, however, initiating any tangible changes in the role the army plays in Turkey’s domestic politics. In connection with the latter point, the author describes the characteristics of the officer corps of the Turkish Armed Forces.

The article examines the problems of army building and the equipment of the Armed Forces. The main factor significantly hindering the development of Turkey’s own military industry in the past has been the lack of a developed industrial infrastructure. At the moment Turkey pays much attention to the creation of armaments systems and military equipment through its own means, and has reached the level of developing and producing its own national models of armaments and military equipment.

Despite its close integration with NATO and its status as a military and strategic ally of the US, in recent years Turkey has started behaving like an independent player in the region, where the armed forces remain the key instrument in the fulfillment of the country’s plans for regional leadership in the Greater Middle East.

The author studies the main vectors of the foreign policy of Turkey, which sees itself as a bridge between the East and the West. The foreign policy attempts to adapt itself to the changing geopolitical environment and ongoing changes in the system of international relations.

A large portion of the article is devoted to the study of Turkey’s military-political cooperation with Azerbaijan and Georgia, and forecasts the further intensification of the military-technical cooperation between these countries. The latter can be vividly observed in the conception of the national security of Georgia, where Turkey is viewed as “Georgia’s major partner in the region.” The article underlines the fact the Turkish Republic is Georgia’s “curator” in the latter’s integration into NATO.

The article concludes that the evolving conditions make it necessary for Armenia to formulate an external political strategy towards Turkey. Taken Turkey’s military, political and economic weight into account, the development of Armenia’s strategy demands a comprehensive approach and should be based on a multi-faceted analysis of the processes both in the region and the Greater Middle East.

Read in Russian.

6. Chris Kutschera
The Turkish Army: An Absolute Authority


Although the head of the Joint Staff of the Turkish Army ranks only fifth in the state officials’ hierarchy after the President of the Republic, the Chairmen of the Constitutional Council and the National Assembly and the Prime Minister, in reality he holds the most influential office in Turkey, with an army of 800,000 soldiers and 35,000 officers under his command.

His predecessors have plotted three coups d’état during the last forty years (in 1960, 1971 and 1980) and have staged a ‘white takeover’ in February 1997 by demanding the resignation of then Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.

From the start of their careers at the military lyceum, where they enter at 14 or 15 and spend four years, then the officer school, where they enter at 18 or 19 and spend four more years, future Turkish officers are instilled with the idea that they are the cream living in an isolated world and that they are there to fulfill a special mission. Starting with their student years, the future military are called to play a unique role and they live in a world quite different from that of other colleges and universities in Turkey.

After eight years of these studies, a Turkish officer believes he is an exceptional creature higher than others and with a role to prevent the downfall of Turkey. The officer’s duty is to protect Turkey from inner threats as a guardian of the Republic. He totally neglects the politicians, who, he believes, constantly and skillfully misguide the ignorant masses. He has boundless admiration for his uniform and the flag. Indeed, as military school students salute the flag every morning at dawn, they frequently faint from their uncontrollable emotions.

Read in Armenian.

7. Armen Ayvazyan
The Defense Doctrine of Armenia


The basis of Armenia’s defense doctrine should be the guarantee of security in all four directions: Northern (Georgian), Southern (Iranian), Western (Turkish), Eastern and Southwestern (Azerbaijani – Nakhichevani); of which the most actual today are the Turkish and Azerbaijani directions. However, this does not diminish the necessity of securing both the Georgian and Iranian directions.

The threat of a possible resumption of war by Azerbaijan has been underscored repeatedly. Armenia should always have the capability to inflict a crushing defeat on Azerbaijan without outside help. The strategic value of Armenia to its present and future allies as well as its standing in the Greater Middle East is largely conditioned by this capability.

The lack of preparedness even at the governmental level against the possible invasion by Turkey should be considered the greatest weakness in Armenia’s national security planning. A number of circumstances in the current international situation drastically reduce the probability of a Turkish invasion, including the existence of the Russian-Armenian military alliance, Turkey’s economic crisis, Kurdish political-cultural demands, problems related to the continued Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, unsettled relations with Greece and Syria and the issue of recognition of the Armenian Genocide. However, this does not at all imply that the security of the Turkish front should no longer worry Armenia.

Until the collapse of the USSR, Turkey’s military doctrine was primarily defensive in nature and was developed using force calculations for warfare with the use of conventional weapons. In the first half of 1990’s this thinking had not yet been revisited. Until recently, the Turkish military remained a loyal follower of Kemal Ataturk’s vision, who believed Turkey’s fate lies solely with the West. As such, the military viewed the attempts of increasing Turkey’s influence in the Muslim East as backward efforts by the Islamists which can endanger the country’s Western course. In the beginning of 1999, Turkey’s ministry of national defense released an official bulletin called “White Paper: Defense 1998,” which deviated from the seventy-year-old tradition in foreign policy and viewed Turkey as a “Eurasian country” that must maintain and enlarge its ties with both the West and the East.

In addition, per one of the provisions of the document, the armed forces must be ready to prevent any threat against Turkey’s interests before it penetrates the country’s borders. According to Turkish and American analysts, such a change in Turkey’s strategy attests to the formation of a “new (neo-) Ottoman agenda.”

Therefore, in this context, Armenia’s defense strategies should be based on the following elements:

• Armenia’s strategy in a war with Azerbaijan must be offensive in nature. In such a war the defense should only be a short transitive period in the case of both a counterattack and a preventive attack. With the emergence of a serious threat to Armenia’s security, the Armenian side must be ready to thwart the export of Azerbaijani oil.

• In the event of a Turkish or a joint Turkish Azerbaijani incursion, Armenia should employ the strategy of deep defense, which has a primary objective of causing maximum attrition to enemy forces on the one side and insuring own population from large losses on the other.

• To overcome the enemy’s quantitative superiority in weaponry and manpower, the Armenian army must adopt the principle of “quality against quantity” applicable both in technical aspect and in other no less important fields such as the troops morale, their motivation and dedication, the level of combat readiness, the intellectual development of the officer corps, etc.

Read in Armenian.


8. Davit Simonyan
The Liberated Territory of Armenia (the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) within the Context of Military Security


Military security is a situation, which excludes harming the vital interests of a country by means of practical use of threats and armed violence against that state.
Meanwhile people in Armenia keep actively talking about the settlement principles that have reportedly been presented to the Armenian and Azeri presidents for discussion and possible signing. These principles stipulate that Armenian troops be withdrawn from the liberated territory and it, except for the Lachin corridor, be given back to Azerbaijan.

The article scrutinizes on the importance the liberated territory has for ensuring the key element of Armenia’s (RA and NKR) national security – its military component.

One of the key factors keeping the military balance between Armenia and Artsakh, from the one side, and Azerbaijan, from the other, and compensating for Azerbaijan’s personnel and hardware superiority and capacity to increase its military potential is the present optimal configuration of the Artsakh frontline.
The existing military balance rather than the cease-fire agreement of 1994 is keeping Azerbaijan back from resuming large-scale military actions.

By giving back any part of the liberated territory, the Armenian side will give Azerbaijan a military advantage and will reduce its own military security. This may inspire the enemy – should there be convenient moment – to solve the Karabakh problem by war. That’s why it is absolutely inadmissible to surrender the liberated territory to the enemy.

Given the aggressive and genocide-prone Azeri-Turkish alliance, with its overwhelming military prevalence and open desire to destroy the Armenian statehood, the key security guarantee for Armenia and Artsakh must be the Armenian Army and the present territory of the Armenian states (42,000 sq. km.).

Read in Armenian, French, Russian and English.

9. Zori Balayan
Cherish the Status-Quo As the Truth


Any political settlement, including the one for the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, implies compromises and mutual concessions of the parties. The rapidly changing international conditions, where new faces and international organizations get involved in the problem, dictate an urgent necessity in reminding both the history of the problem and the “compromises” offered to the parties to the problem within the last fifteen years.

The “Goble Plan” that emerged in an extremely difficult period for Artsakh in 1992 can be considered as the first such compromise that appealed to the name of the academician Andrei Sakharov and supposed the creation of a land corridor between Nakhijevan and Azerbaijan and would thus change the whole geopolitical situation in the region. Fatally erroneous and unacceptable for the Armenian side, the plan proposed the bargaining of territories vitally important for Armenia in exchange for the Lachin corridor that would serve as a “compromise” on the side of the Azerbaijani party.

Such an idea is not a novelty. It entails the creation of necessary preconditions for the exploitation of the demographic situation, by both the Bolsheviks and contemporary geopolitical designers, who try to develop and introduce deliberately dead schemes that lack any chance of being realized in a region with a rich spiritual, cultural and historical memory, schemes that exclude the gentler spheres of societal life.

The logic of life and strategic thought forced Armenians to realize their plan, their vision for the compromise based on the liberation of the part of Armenian territories that were passed on under Azerbaijani control by the global forces in the 20th century. The Armenian plan for compromise was adopted by the Bishkek agreements of 1994.

The exploitation of geo-communicational factors in regional politics in the South Caucasus is not a novelty either. Such attempts were made by Azerbaijan in the Soviet period and they continue to be made today, even though regional stability demands recognition of the existing reality and refusal of implementation of plans that are aimed at the destruction of the existing balance. The present-day status-quo is a unique guarantee for a real security and safety in both the South Caucasus region and the Greater Middle East.

Read in Russian.


10. Karen Vrtanesyan, Samvel Martirosyan
We and the Internet: A Critical Survey


The article reviews the most significant Internet services and web sites in terms of information distribution, and assesses pro- and anti-Armenian activities on these sites.

Of special interest to the authors is the emerging phenomenon of the blogosphere and its supporting services. Another topic covered by the authors is the anti-Armenian activities of Turkish organizations on the Internet.

The authors also study the factors that limit the development of an Armenian presence on the internet, including the problem of using the Armenian language on the Internet, Armentel (local telecom monopoly) policies, lack of experienced human resources well-acquainted with modern information technologies, and the lack of serious state support.

Read in Armenian.

11. Ruben Tarumyan
The Armenian-Lettered Armenian in the Internet


In modern times, as everyday life of ordinary people is increasingly tied up with the computering and Internet, the young generation of Armenians gets used to communicating without the Armenian letters and even the Armenian language itself. Hence, the organization of Armenian-lettered communication in the Internet becomes a matter of utter importance.

Although the amount of Armenian-lettered materials in the Internet grows, the process seems to be very slow due to the existing obstacles. One of the problems is the lack of computer software equipped with high quality Armenian fonts.

The imperfect performance of the State Agency for Language Problems and the Ministry of Education and Science also plays a negative role.

The author of the article offers a set of solutions to the existing problems, including the establishment of cooperation with international software companies by the state of Armenia; providing Armenian-lettered keyboards to the organizations and enterprises of Armenia; the organization of Armenian-lettered typewriting courses in the educational centers of Armenia and their inclusion into the main curriculum; state propaganda on the use of Armenian language in the Internet; and providing unequivocal implementation of legislation regarding the Armenian language.

Read in Armenian.


12. Davit Jamalyan
The Contemporary Problems of Military Psychology within the Context of Defensive Capacity of Armenia


For a country living under conditions of ceasefire, the main guarantee of its defense is the prevailing psychological and moral atmosphere. What, then, is the situation in contemporary Armenian society? What socio-psychological processes are taking place within it?

Since 1994, a certain part of Armenian society has developed an attitude of indifference toward the possibility of a restart of the war, denial of the present reality, as well as disbelief towards Armenia’s ability to successfully withstand the adversary.

In recent years, Azerbaijan has been consistently carrying large scale propaganda about its own “military superiority”. The goal of Azerbaijani authorities is obviously to terrorize Armenian society, to mold a perception of the unimportance of Armenia’s forces and Armenia’s inability to win a possible war, while simultaneously preparing Azerbaijani society to a “victorious” offensive war.

Conversely, the collective consciousness of Armenian society manifests a tendency to decrease healthy defensive aggression towards the enemy. During recent years, the public statements and publications of some public and political personalities and the media have displayed obvious defeatism and slavish mentality, which threaten the essence of state security.

Intra-ethnic discrimination and dangerous sub-ethnic schisms of “Hayastantsi” (of the Republic of Armenia origin) vs. “Karabakhtsi” (of Karabakh Armenian origin) have emerged within Armenian society. The alien sect of Jehovah Witnesses, which shatters the bases of statehood and openly preaches against the army, has been strengthening its positions in the country.

Armenian society faces the necessary task of developing an ability for soundly assessing the danger and getting ready to confront it, increasing awareness about the psychological characteristics of the adversary, fighting against internal divisions, developing mechanisms to control the spontaneous process of lowering of the defensive aggression of Armenian society towards the enemy, as well as developing capacities to withstand the propaganda of tolerance towards the enemy.

Read in Armenian.

13. Shushan Khatlamajyan
The Army and Politics: Some Aspects of Connections between the Idealistic Notion and the Reality


There is no need to prove that Armenia needs to have an army, at least for the foreseeable future. As long as there are state interests that objectively contradict the interests of other states, there will also be objective threats, as well as a vital necessity for states to defend their interests.

The major functions inherent in national security are fulfilled by the state. Both the sources of major threats and the capacities of systematic solution for the problems of security of individuals, society and the nation are ascribed to state institutes, because the state is the structure capable of creating and – most importantly – mobilizing the necessary means. At the same time, the ultimate target of the national and state policies depends on the “starting” conditions of a given state.

The necessity in the modern state institutes of the defense of national interests – the army, the police and the security services – is conditioned upon factors like the hostile policy of other states, their real capacities and the real threats stemming from them. And it is upon these factors that the necessity of the modern state institutes for the protection of state interests, particularly the army, is conditioned.

The problem of the armed forces is as urgent for a state in transition like Armenia as it is for other states. The armed forces demand constant attention, depending on the changing conditions. There is no universal and ever operable solution neither for “wealthy” states surrounded solely by friendly states and allies, nor for superpowers fighting against international terrorism, facing serious economic and financial challenges, nor for former empires.

Both the growing role of the army in the social and political life of Armenia and the unique role it plays in domestic political struggles are matters of concern. However, discussions about the necessity for civic and social supervision over the armed forces are mainly of a populist nature.

The army is a part of society; therefore, society is to be blamed for most of the complications in military-civic relationships that take place from time to time. Moreover, society lacks generally accepted ways of assessing the principles of armed forces reform and society’s democratic supervision over them – despite the necessity of such supervision in some of the spheres of the army’s life and the fact that the possibilities of its fulfillment are directly tied to the presence or absence of domestic political preconditions.

The problems of army development need deep and multifaceted analysis in Armenia. Unfortunately, the objective situation hinders the encouragement of such work. As a result, there are just few valuable studies in the sphere of military-civic relationships and they are not of a systemic or continuous nature.

Read in Armenian.


14. Sun Tzu
The Art of War

Read in Armenian.

15. Hrachya Arzumanyan
The Continuity of War and Western Military Tradition

Read in Armenian.


16. Gevorg Yazichyan
The True Causes Behind the Fall of Kars (1920)


Armenian historiography has paid an exclusive attention to the ‘external’ political and diplomatic reasons behind the shocking fall of the Armenian city of Kars on October 30, 1920, to the Turkish Army led by Kazim Karabekir and the collapse of the Armenian Army and the first Republic of Armenia, with very few studies focusing on the ‘internal’ causes including the ideological, moral and psychological, as well as the military and military-psychological factors.

The author of the article subjects these aspects of the Kars tragedy to a thorough examination.

He concludes that the fall of Kars and the Republic were inevitable and were the logical outcome of the abnormal ideological, moral and psychological situation that prevailed in the Republic of Armenia in the summer and autumn of 1920.

Many of the causes that led to the tragedy are being repeated in the present-day Republic of Armenia. The author calls for immediate and drastic changes in the ideological, moral and psychological relations that prevail nowadays in Armenia in order to prevent a repetition of history.

Read in Armenian.

17. Arkadi Ter-Tadevosyan
The Analysis of Combat Operations in Artsakh (July 1991 – July 1992)


A number of works devoted to the Karabakh War cover rather comprehensively either the chronology of the events or separate episodes in the combat operations. Unfortunately, the formation of the Defense Forces of Karabakh that later became the Defense Army of Artsakh/Karabakh has not been studied until now.

Military experts have not yet analyzed the factors that made possible the victories of the Armenian armed units over an enemy that was superior both in numbers and armaments. Neither are there any works that bring into light the reasons for the defeats suffered by the Armenian side in the period from between July 1991 and July 1992.

The article studies the evolving situation in Artsakh during the mentioned period, as well as the manner in which the most important combat operations were prepared. It gives a short description of the Armenian voluntary detachments – the level of their combat efficiency, moral and psychological condition and political orientation. The article also analyzes the main reasons behind the defeat of the Armenian Self-Defense Forces in the Shahumyan and Martakert regions in June-July 1992. The tactics of the actions taken by the self-defense forces are also described. Being forced to fight against the numerically superior forces of the enemy, the Self-Defense Forces adhered to well-defined tactics involving the use of the element of surprise, the provision of a corridor for the enemy’s retreat, strikes in the enemy’s rear, etc. The Armenian fighters in general demonstrated higher levels of morale and commitment. The self-defense forces were quicker to master and were more skilful in using both the light rifle weaponry and the sophisticated types of armament and military equipment. The shortage in ammunition encouraged the development of more effective use of what was available. Success in the Artsakh War was achieved through the unity of the Armenian nation in the cause for the defense of the Fatherland, the superiority of the Armenian fighters over the enemy in warfare, as well as the higher combat morale of the troops. The Armed Forces of Armenia should not lag behind the adversary in terms of the pace of army building and they should be guided by the experience of the Artsakh War.

Read in Russian.

18. Suren Martikyan
The Development of Mountainous (Forest-Mountainous) Tactics in the 20th Century and Its Influence on the Artsakh War

Read in Armenian.

19. Rose Mary Sheldon
The Ancient Imperative: Clandestine Operations and Covert Action


Covert action and clandestine operations are among the most common and yet most vilified methods of statecraft. The historic record suggests that very few societies could pass up the opportunity of using such useful and flexible tools when overt military operations were either impractical or impossible.

This fact can be most clearly seen in the case of the controversies between the Romans and the Parthians, where Armenia appeared in the focus of the interests of the two powers.

A picture of the covert actions and clandestine operations behind the military superiority of the Romans, co-existing with their diplomatic and military policies, can be sketched out despite the existing obstacles in studying the problem.

The Romans influenced the policies of foreign countries by providing advice and counsel to the government leaders and senior individuals, particularly the pretenders to the throne and the officials within the courts of those states.
Propaganda was a common method used during the ‘cold’ wars of the ancient world. News on victories were sent by constant dispatches, then ‘published’ on coins, inscriptions on triumphal arches and proclamations.

Paramilitary operations took a lesser place in the Roman repertoire of covert activities simply because they were able to use overt force without the threat of reprisal. They did, however, identify and train foreigners, who could later be used in their own army.

The Romans did not refrain from killing either to facilitate a succession or to prevent the ascent of an undesirable pretender to the throne.

Covert intelligence techniques familiar to modern intelligence experts such as political influence operations, seeding, propaganda, political patronage, safe havens, political assassination and paramilitary operations all had their counterparts in ancient Rome.

Read in Armenian.


20. Karen Vrtanesyan
Thomas de Waal. “The Black Garden”: In Search of Imagined Balance


The article is a critical review of the book “Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War (NYU Press; New Ed edition, 2004) by British journalist Thomas de Waal. Currently the book is being actively distributed and is promoted as an unbiased source of information on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Russian version of the book came out recently; Armenian and Azerbaijani versions are to be published soon.

The author of the review presents many examples of inaccuracies, distortions and attempts to establish an artificial “balance of guilt” between the parties involved in the conflict. The sources of information used by de Waal are criticized too. The author of the review validly concludes that the “Black Garden” is not an unbiased work, neither can its author be considered a neutral observer.

Read in Russian.

21. Arsen Harutyunyan
M. Iliadis “The Turkish Secret Services and the MIT”, Athens, Labyrinth, 1998 [Μανοσ Ηλιαδησ. Οι τουρκικεσ μυστικεσ υπηρεσιεσ και η ΜΙΤ]


The monograph “The Turkish Secret Services and the MIT” by Manos Iliadis is the first systematic historical documentary study about the activities of Turkey’s secret services within the context of Hellenic-Turkish relations. This work is essential reading for any researcher engaged in the study of Turkey’s secret services, and it is doubtless interesting for scientists and experts in related fields.

Iliadis studies the role and place of Turkey’s secret services in the country’s political life, the implementation of foreign and defense policy, and the formation of the country’s priorities in its relations with others.

As the central link in Turkey’s system of security from the very day of its establishment, the MIT realizes the responsibility entrusted to it, tries to preserve neutrality in all kinds of internal crises and to avoid direct participation in day-to-day politics. The MIT interferes into the political processes only in cases where a threat directly challenges the Turkish statehood.

The book describes the organizational structure, the methods of training and the preparation of the personnel as well as the technical equipment of the MIT. The author also pays much attention to Turkey’s other special services and follows their historical path – from the first Turkish special service called the Teskilat-i Mahsusa up until the predecessors of the MIT – the MAH (Milli Amele Hizmet) and MEH (Milli Emniyet Hizmetleri). The book also pays attention to the special services of the Ottoman Empire.

Although the book was published in 1998, it has preserved its value up until the present day, because Turkey’s secret services continue to be among the most active covert services in the world, and one could hardly expect another equally comprehensive study on the subject in the near future.

The review includes additional information on the organizational structure of the MIT.

Read in Russian.

22. Armen Harutyunyan
Artsrun Hovhannisyan. “The Aviation in the Artsakh War”, “Aviamania” Scientific-Sporting Non-Governmental Organization, 2006


Published in 2006, the book by Artsrun Hovhannisyan is the first attempt in the military historiography of independent Armenia to make a detailed analysis into the role of the civil aviation in the creation of air corridor between Armenia and Artsakh, the creation of air forces in Armenia and Azerbaijan and their application in the Artsakh war.

The volume analyzes the international trends in the development of military aviation and studies cases of their efficient usage. The book also observes the necessity for the use of modern aircraft and anti-aircraft system in accord with the demands of the theater of the battle-ground by the RA Air Forces.

The volume reflects on the aircraft exploited by the conflicting sides in the Artsakh war, their armament and the anti-aircraft systems.

The study sheds light on the important role the Armenian aviation specialists played in the salvation of Artsakh and the victory in the war. The book will certainly be of great interest to military experts and all those interested in the military history of Artsakh war.

Read in Armenian.


About the Editor and Contributors
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