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Commandos breed confidence, bespeak lack of complacency

13 January 2022 17:57 (UTC+04:00)
Commandos breed confidence, bespeak lack of complacency

By Orkhan Amashov

Success is never final. There is no finality or clearly defined endpoint in the maintenance of peace. It is only through the application of constantly evolving deterrents that any international security system could be deemed viable.

Azerbaijan has won its epic war against Armenia. The aggressor has been defeated and compelled to succumb to peace-enforcement measures and signed an act of capitulation. But the whole business is not finished yet. The inception of a durable peace, or a prelude to it, can only be achieved by ensuring there is a critical mass of accumulated deterrents against Armenia. The critical mass is inclusive of all sorts of elements, one of which is Baku’s military capability to ensure that post-war peace can be ensured.

The creation of commando units across the country, the first of which was launched in the Hadrut settlement of the Khojavand region in the presence of President Ilham Aliyev on December 24, is just one of the critical steps taken by Baku to boost its military capabilities.

The choice of Hadrut as the place for the inauguration was, of course, not incidental. It is a key strategic position surrounded with mountains; consequently, it is imperative that Azerbaijan keeps a formidable military force in that location.

There also seems to be some justified symbolism attached to the place. Its liberation, many would agree, was one of the decisive moments in the course of the 44-day war. It was not a mere territorial gain for the Azerbaijani army, but an excruciatingly deadly psychological blow to the enemy. After Hadrut, the road to Shusha, the citadel of Azerbaijani dignity, was wide open, and the enemy was left with no option but to rush to the nearest refuge in terror, or if to quote President Aliyev "to set a new record in the sprint".

The Second Karabakh War was not just a victory, but also an important positive experience from which to learn. The campaign has revealed the areas in which Azerbaijan has to consider necessary reinforcement. Since most of the operations were carried out in mountainous areas, Baku had a good chance to appreciate the indispensability of the employment of mobile and high-alert special units, which are also essential to the future. In this sense, commando units fit the bill perfectly.

They are ideal in conducting unconventional assaults on high-value targets. Their experience shows that in overt combat, front-line reconnaissance and raiding, they possess a competitive advantage over other types of special forces carrying out similar functions. Turkish military expert Abdullah Aghar believes that when it comes to acting quickly, employing advanced forms and methods of warfare, creating obstacles and fighting till the last, commandos are second to none.

On a more strategic level, the creation of commando units marks the beginning of a new age in Azerbaijan’s army building project and denotes the transition to a more dynamic model. The war has not just allowed Baku to see the efficiency of its military reforms in practice, but also feel the pace of time and construct the future on new groundwork.

The Azerbaijani army is experiencing what one may call “re-formalisation and reorganisation”. As can be inferred from the historic Shusha declaration, the Turkish model is and will be a reference in this gargantuan mission.

“Dynamism” is beyond the use of special force units, it also means a new type of management and the reliance on various weapons and sources of arms supply. Retired Turkish army general Yucel Karauz is of the opinion that, for any national military industry to be successful, it should not be dependent on one country for procuring necessary capabilities. However, simultaneously, excessive diversity in weaponry should be avoided so as to eliminate potential coordination issues. On the other hand, in order to ensure the sustainability of the military industry, Baku needs to export too, and the joint Turkish-Azerbaijani military production, as enshrined in the aforementioned declaration, is key to the purpose in question.

Contrary to Article 4 of the ceasefire deal, Armenia has not yet withdrawn its troops from the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast and it is only too natural that Azerbaijan's military strategy should be and is cognisant of this. Although in Baku’s view, the conflict is over, the continued presence of Armenian illegal armed formations in the mountainous part of Karabakh means that there are certain obligations that Armenia has not yet fulfilled, and until then, a degree of heightened vigilance will be required. To this effect, Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko believes there is a direct link between the commando unit established in Hadrut and the continued Armenian separatist presence in Khankandi.

There have also been numerous Armenian-engineered provocations on the state border since the ceasefire. As President Aliyev confirmed in his January 12 press conference, all the attempts followed the same scenario. They all started with a covert provocation which, at all times, was remorselessly rebuffed by Azerbaijan, and Armenian pleas followed. One thing is clear. Although Yerevan, due to the dilapidated state of its armed forces, is not able to arrange anything on a larger scale, futile attempts to exact revenge by the deluded may continue.

Epic military triumphs have a tendency of causing, amongst other things, unbridled euphoria, which is very natural at the beginning, provided it does not lead to arrogance and complacency. Everything Baku has done since the end of the Second Karabakh War has shown that it is far away from falling into this trap.

Sobriety is a desirable state of mind, particularly when steps taken are bound to have considerable bearing on the lives of millions in the long run. Elation-induced intoxication of the soul is acceptable only if it does not go beyond the confines of a brief period of rejoicing. Azerbaijan will always cherish and celebrate its monumental triumph, with the full knowledge that any triumph is only consequential if it continues to be fortified and enhanced; otherwise, it will be remembered as a mere relic, however glorious, of the past.

As the old adage says, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Azerbaijan is victorious, but it is yet to cement a durable peace. However demolished the Armenian army may be, it should not be given a slightest chance to engage in anything that could be remotely detrimental to the interests of Baku. It is one vain attempt to make a warning which will fall on deaf ears, quite another thing to act on its own to suppress the potential rise of the menace. Azerbaijan has chosen the latter and rightly so.

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