GSAC Analytics

New methods of warfare in Karabakh (lessons for Georgia)

New methods of warfare in Karabakh (lessons for Georgia)

I decided to share some preliminary conclusions on the methods of waging war in Karabakh and their impact on the concept of Georgian defense.

Most interesting areas:

  1. Importance of drones and their role in our concept of warfare
  2. Rethinking the role and tasks of fire support (artillery)
  3. Changes and adaptation to new conditions of actions of engineering troops
  4. Rethinking the role of special forces in modern warfare
  5. Changes in tactics of actions of ground forces (tank and infantry formations)
  6. New logistics opportunities

The role of drones in combat:

It is clear that direct mechanical copying of the actions of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Karabakh conflict in our conditions, of course, is impossible. First of all, it is necessary to assess the manpower and firepower of the enemy, as well as the possibility of using drones in specific conditions. It is also necessary to assess when and in what situation the enemy can use drones and whether their use will be decisive. At the same time, it is already absolutely clear that drones will carry out their standard functions, such as reconnaissance, target detection, fire adjustment and electronic warfare.

The main question is how expected is the use of drones with the Russian side in the event of a military conflict with Georgia? In the Karabakh war, the drones used by Azerbaijan played a very important role in breaking through defensive barriers (lines) and in the massive destruction of firing positions (which significantly reduced the retaliatory strikes of Armenian artillery) of the enemy. This also had a serious moral and psychological impact on the Armenian units, and accordingly makes them reconsider the tactics of fighting. In our case, the situation is somewhat different.

Firstly, a large number and a wide range of Russian fire support systems (both in terms of firepower and depth of impact), as well as the tactics and traditions of their use over large areas, together with a huge stock of ammunition, create opportunities for Russian troops to use drones in reconnaissance (“hunting”) purposes for the detection and destruction of the most important targets of the enemy (High Value Target / HVT). If necessary, drones will be used to suppress radio communications.

Consideration should be given to the pattern, style and tradition of the Russian ground forces, as well as the scale of the forces used. Under no circumstances would Azerbaijan be able to gather in a specific sector of the front a number of troops comparable to the Russian Federation. The Azerbaijani army corps includes 2-3 brigades, while for the Russian Armed Forces, the concentration of a 20,000-strong group of troops in a specific direction does not pose any problem. With so many fire support assets, drones are unlikely to carry out targeting tasks and will be used exclusively for reconnaissance purposes and to destroy the most important enemy targets. For example, despite the large size of the Turkish army, the power of their fire support is much inferior to the fire power of the Russian army, both in terms of the variety of fire support means and in terms of the depth of action. Therefore, the Turks are objectively forced to correct this deficiency with the number of drones and the variety of the range of tasks they perform. Russians simply don’t need that many drones.

Of course, an analysis of the options for using drones and other potential adversaries is necessary, and here the picture will be completely different, which, accordingly, will lead to different conclusions.

Rethinking the role and tasks of fire support (artillery):

The war in Karabakh showed that, along with the reconnaissance tasks of drones, the task of destroying enemy firing positions (artillery and missile systems) was almost a more important task of drones.

After the destruction of air defense systems (which was the primary task of drones), we witnessed the effective use of drones to detect and destroy enemy artillery positions.

In the absence of drones, the task of detecting enemy artillery positions would fall on reconnaissance (special) units and counter-battery units.

At the same time, the detection and destruction of enemy fire weapons is very difficult if the artillery and rocket launchers are mobile and can change positions after striking.

Thus, the detection of enemy artillery by drones, including positions located far from the front line, target designation or effective destruction, becomes much easier and less risky than it was before. The Russian group will try to make the most of this function, since the Georgian artillery is the only and most effective means of inflicting significant damage to the enemy in a short time at a great distance.

In this regard, it is necessary to revise the concept of air defense and give priority to equipping units with air defense systems covering artillery-missile and basic maneuverable units. The Karabakh war showed the paramount importance of solving this problem.

The Karabakh war revealed the need for fundamentally new engineering solutions for the arrangement of artillery positions, since none of the components (neither camouflage, nor the physical location of military equipment) of the Armenian artillery positions corresponded to the new requirements of combat.

In addition, the hostilities showed the need to equip the maximum number of false positions with dummies of military equipment, which at the same time should serve as reserve positions. Moreover, all positions should be arranged in such a way that their destruction by drones would be extremely difficult, and at the same time fully meet modern camouflage requirements, in order to complicate the task of their detection by those drones.

To perform tasks of camouflaging missile and artillery positions, it is necessary to use the terrain. It is necessary to use natural caves in the mountains and tunnels specially built for this, also disguised as much as possible, where it would be possible to quickly hide the rocket and artillery installations, immediately after they inflicted a fire strike. Obviously, mobile fire systems have a serious advantage in this case and are the best choice.

Rethinking the tasks of engineering departments:

The fighting in Karabakh made serious adjustments to the tasks of engineering units not only to equip artillery positions, but also introduced new requirements for equipping positions of both infantry and tank / mechanized military units. It is necessary to analyze and rethink the arrangement of positions, taking into account the possible dominance of drones in the air.

If, until recently, trenches and dugouts more or less provided the task of protecting personnel when attacking ground forces, tanks, artillery and enemy aircraft, today the constant and accurate use of drones in the combat zone has made the task urgent – what kind of engineering tactical structures / methods are necessary to protect manpower and military equipment. Perhaps at the first stage, we will talk about the arrangement of special protective structures for individual, especially important infantry units, for example, anti-tank or mortar crews, and for command posts.

The next problem is the need to protect the positions of armored vehicles from air attacks. A position for firing, covered with a mound of earth on logs (at least 1 meter), will seriously reduce the possibility of hitting armored vehicles and at the same time will give armored vehicles the much-needed ability to conduct direct fire. Sure. Such measures do not provide full guarantees, however, these measures can seriously reduce losses.

If the enemy’s drones destroy the main forces of artillery and armored vehicles, the most important engineering and technical task is to equip such a defense line (mining, trenches, barriers, water lines, and so on) that could stop the enemy’s advance in the main directions and inflict maximum damage on him.

Increased role of special forces:

In short, in the context of drone operations, the tasks of special forces are changing. A new algorithm for the actions of special forces in the course of tactical and deep reconnaissance is needed, taking into account the information obtained by means of drones, guidance of kamikaze drones and direct destruction of targets of particular importance.

Actions of ground forces in conditions of drones dominance:

In short, under the conditions of enemy air domination, it is necessary to abandon the arrangement of static positions as much as possible, where possible. except for those cases. when positions are equipped as described above. the main emphasis should be on mobile tactics of conducting combat in small autonomous groups with maximum use of the natural environment (forests, gorges, etc.)

New logistics opportunities:

In short, solving the problems of providing and supplying ammunition, weapons, food and medicine to small operational-tactical groups using drones.

Lasha Dzebisashvili, GSAC