Azerbaijan is making efforts for buying new types of weapons, ammunition and training.
Until recently the UK and US think tanks had professional evaluations of the armed forces of the South Caucasus, including those of unrecognized countries. These assessments had been based not only on ordinary analysis but also military games involving military and political-military experts.
Back in the fall of 2006 Pentagon held such a game involving military-political experts which had a significant experience in assessing the defense capability of the armies of the newly independent countries, as well as the countries of the Near East and irregular armies. These specialists had earlier had to assess the armed forces of the South Caucasian countries.
The purpose of this game in Pentagon was not to reveal the details concerning the conditions and state of the armed forces in the South Caucasus but to review the results of army building in 2003-2006. The experts concluded: Armenia retains some advantages in the defense sphere, considering the preceding long period of successful army building. Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia is capable of military operations involving all kinds of forces and to achieve specific results.
The offensive capacity of the Azerbaijani armed forces is also significant but Azerbaijan will hardly achieve significant results because the armed forces of Azerbaijan are not distinguished for their ability to coordinate the actions of troops, use armored cars, air force and helicopters effectively. The offensive operations of the Azerbaijani armed forces will end up in position fights which will require, aside from all, a lot of ammunition, high discipline and high morale of the personnel.
Being interested in fast defeat of the attacking forces of the enemy, Armenia will try to strike using different types of forces but these actions will be limited to the quantities of ammunition. The use of military aircraft will not be effective because both countries, namely Armenia, have modern air defense systems.
A U.S. army officer within NATO who used to undertake tasks of prevention of major accidents and catastrophes and take part in the given analysis paid attention to the possible enlargement of the scope of military actions which may lead to damage to the nuclear power station in Armenia and the oil production facilities in Azerbaijan. Attention is paid to Armenia’s ability to strike all the oil facilities, including those in the Caspian Sea.
It is possible that soon the evaluations by the Western think tanks on the armed forces of Azerbaijan will change, new qualities and perspectives of their development will occur because Azerbaijan intends to buy an unprecedented quantity of weapons soon.
The United States has appeared in an ambiguous situation because not even NATO but Pentagon became the initiator of the arms race in the South Caucasus. In fact, the United States is not hiding its intentions and wish to support further strengthening and improvement of the armed forces of the South Caucasus as an important factor of resistance to the threats of Russia and Iran.
The United States sees the involvement of the countries of NATO region as not the most effective path of unfolding its policy in the South Caucasus because NATO membership, despite enabling closer cooperation in the defense sphere, leads to stagnation in the armed forces, supposes significant reduction of the number of personnel and turns the region to makeweight for NATO’s goals.
The close collaboration between the countries of the South Caucasus and the Western community but not in NATO and the EU enables using the military potential of these countries better and more freely.
The United States which puts forth specific goals in front of the armed forces in Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea basin in the direction of containment of Iran and Russia cannot simultaneously limit the development of defense of this country. At the same time, the Americans have become convinced that the growth of Azerbaijan’s political-military potential leads to additional problems with control in directing its policy to an acceptable side.
The United States has encountered similar problems in other regions and is afraid of becoming convinced over time that the partner countries are unmanageable.
The United States explains with varying enthusiasm to Armenia the circumstances relating to the U.S.-Azerbaijani military cooperation. The United States convinces the political leadership and the military command of Armenia that Azerbaijan’s army building is under control but these explanations are becoming less credible.
The United States hopes that they will be able to keep the region under control and prevent resumption of military actions in the Karabakh province, Abkhazia, South Ossetia.
There are signs that over time the United States will conduct a more selective policy in regard to the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia on NATO membership. B not only a geostrategic partner but also a source of oil, Azerbaijan is definitely believed to have sufficient combat readiness with the help of which the United States would be able to control the entire Caucasian-Caspian region and, to some extent, Central Asia, considering the functions of military transit which has been fulfilled by Azerbaijan for a long time.
This is not about excessive arming of Azerbaijan but assigning it to defense of oil facilities and pipelines. In this regard, its membership to NATO is not the most convenient format, especially that the European community is not enthusiastic about accepting a Muslim country, which will make its stance on Turkey even less supported by arguments.
At the same time, the membership of Georgia and Armenia to NATO is seen by the Americans as a natural and acceptable process of development of their relations with the Western community. The military functions assigned to Georgia by the American strategy, like those of Azerbaijan, are related to defense of energy infrastructures.
Armenia’s role is seen in the participation of its small army contingents in different peacekeeping and other missions on the scenes of political tension. The U.S.-Armenia military cooperation has taken this direction.
Hence, the military aspects of development of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot be considered without paying attention to the relations of these countries with the United States and NATO which hope to keep the region of the South Caucasus under control.