“Whosoever Commands…” the Air, Commands the War

By Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian, Los Angeles, 15 December 2023

“The era of drone swarm is coming,
and we need to be ready for it”.
                        Zachary Kallenborn

Since the glorious days of the much-revered Tigran The Great, the Armenians have been comparatively in a spiral of losing their ancestral lands. Their homeland has been shrunk by the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Azeris, etc. Today, the Republic of Armenia’s size is one tenth of what it has been for millennia.

In some of those past territorial wars, the Armenians won, but in many others they lost. The main reason for losing wars is rooted in the lack of a strong militarist doctrine in their overall national policy and their debilitating disunity. The latest loss is Artsakh because of the derelict and egocentric Armenian military leaders who should have been ready to counter Azerbaijan’s “telegraphed” offensives.

The premise of this essay is that Armenia should pursue a rush militarist policy for acquiring the right weapons for the protection of what little is left of its homeland.

Arguably, the Armenian leaders seem to have lacked either unity or belief or desire of a government that a country should maintain a strong military capability for self-defense and always be prepared to use it even aggressively to safeguard or promote national interests.

Turkey and its ogre kid brother Azerbaijan’s hostility and militarism in the region have not abated in any perceptible manner. Predicated on the advantage of militarism, these two rogue states have embarked on an ambitious plan to continue conquering the lands of their neighbors in the same cruel tradition of their plundering ancestors who burst out of the Central Asia to subjugate the peaceful and settled nations. Over the years, they have amassed military power to reckon with in order to hold onto their conquests.

A glance at history shows that the right weapons make all the difference in war. For example, the Hittites wanted to dominate the region. To become a formidable force, they came up with a superior chariot –three-man chariots as opposed to the old model of one-man driven chariots. One man was to steer the chariot, the other two would freely use their bows and arrows to shoot at the enemy soldiers, right and left. As a result, they conquered Egypt without much difficulty and with little casualty of loss of soldiers.

For a recent example of what the right weapon does for a nation at war, let us look at England. “For whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself,” wrote the English adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh. The English embraced Raleigh’s advice and created a mightier sea force than what they already had, which encompassed all the naval and maritime capabilities of a particular nation. As a result, they created the strongest empire in the world.  In its heydays from the 18th to the 20th centuries, Britain was “the empire on which the sun never sets” to signify its vastness of territories under its jurisdiction.

Hitler rained bombs on London to make Britain surrender during WWII, but PM Winston Churchill refused to succumb. The whole nation rallied to produce fighter planes and drones and contributed financially to fight back Hitler and to defeat him. They succeeded through militarism and unity.

PM Winston Churchill and Capt. David Margesson, Secretary of State for War, watching preparations being made for the launch of a De Havilland Queen Bee seaplane L5984 from its ramp. The Queen Bee pilotless target drone was a radio-controlled version of the Tiger Moth trainer.

Armenians should learn lasting lessons from those nations which when faced with strong enemies militarized their forces to turn the tide against them. The vast Armenian Diaspora has ample resources to help Armenia and Artsakh to either acquire or produce their own air-to-ground autonomous modern weapons.

Ruefully, the Armenian nation miserably lost the Second Artsakh War in 2020 due to Azerbaijan’s capability to unleash combat drones obtained from Turkey and Israel. These UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) were also remotely piloted by Israeli experts. It was not the weapon, but the one who pulled the trigger who is the criminal who is now facing the Palestinian forces.

We should also admit our shortcomings. The Armenian military leaders proved to be irresponsible and selfish: they did not prepare against Azerbaijan’s growing allied forces and the accumulation of modern weapons. Instead, they were complacent and wallowed in their successes in the First Artsakh War in 1992.

By violating the ceasefire agreements and in front of the “spectator” Western powers, Azerbaijan launched a surprise attack on Artsakh on Sept. 19, 2023 after having laid a starvation siege on the people for ten months.

Fearing imminent war, violence, and persecution, the entire population of Artsakh fled from their homes, farms, and homeland of millennia to seek safety haven in Armenia. The exodus of the beleaguered people constituted an “Ethnic Cleansing Genocide.”

In the aftermath of the 44-Day War in 2020, President Aliyev has put on Azerbaijan’s military agenda to “liberate” the so-called “Western Armenia” as belonging to Azerbaijan.

A variance of Aliyev’s claim is that the Khanate Erevan (Province of Yerevan), Lake Sevan, and Zangezur (Syunik) including eight villages along the border of Tavush province (marz) with Azerbaijan should be handed over to Azerbaijan or else he would take them by force. That demand constitutes virtually the whole of the Republic of Armenia’s sovereign territory. As a result, the Armenian population all has to be crammed in Gyumri –as the new capital of a rump state.

Also, to realize Turkey’s long-standing dream of Pan-Turkism to join the Turkish-speaking states of Central Asia as one nation, Armenia should allow the construction of a so-called Zangezur corridor under Azerbaijan’s control to be able to join its Nakhetchvan exclave with the mainland Azerbaijan. Killing of two birds with one stone seems to whet the appetite of these two rogue states.

That Armenia is facing an existential threat is not farfetched. It is about time our leaders agreed upon adopting the policy of militarism before it is too late to become self-reliant and self-sufficient in protecting its own rights and interests.

Most Armenians boast about being smart, tenacious, and resilient. There is a lot of truth in that attitude. Chances are, they may be individually smart, but when they get into a group, they miserably fail to produce any semblance of “swarm intelligence”. They are hard to get along with one another. They lack unity and they publicly bemoan that as being a national deficiency. Therefore, they remain impotent to produce any synergistic effect in tackling national issues and problems.

Throughout history, military strength has had its own overt communication to the enemy: “Do not mess with me; otherwise, you will get a bloody nose.” Military power also deflects or even discourages aggression by rogue states.

When do Armenians learn to embrace militarism for self-defense? When do they stop giving unity lip service? When do they begin to listen to their experienced Diaspora?

While getting armored vehicles from France or some artillery guns from India is fine, they won’t solve the challenge for ground fighting has moved to the high skies. Since WWI, air warfare has been emphasized by all military experts. Drones determine the outcome of any war nowadays.

The drone revolution is happening right now; either one hops on the bandwagon or remains on the wayside hopelessly helpless in a world characterized by competition, greed, and conflicting relationships among countries. Conflict seems to be germane to all nations as long as the world also consists of rulers and the ruled, of rogue states, and dictatorship countries, such as Azerbaijan and Turkey, as violators of human rights and those who fail to uphold human values and dignity.

DARPA’s Gremlin swarm drones flying on a mission to destroy enemy targets without a remote pilot directing them.

The adoption of 5G, the fifth generation of the latest iteration cellular technology, which is able to increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks, continues to enable drone technologies burgeon across various industries. The confluence of the sciences and technologies of Artificial Intelligence, Swarm Intelligence, and Molecular Nanotechnology is producing new kinds of drones which determine the outcome of the war between a small country and a Goliath–favoring the one that employs autonomous drones.

There is an urgent message to innovation laggards who are behind in adopting new science and technology for advancing their national business, social, and defense infrastructures. One rapidly evolving frontier is in the UAVs technology.

Iran, India, China, Turkey, and Israel are producing drones for export as well as for their own arsenals. Armenia should also embark on producing its own drones, especially when it is sandwiched between two Turkish enemies sworn to annihilate the Armenian people.

In Shaan Shaikh and Wes Rumbaugh’s article The Air and Missile War in Nagorno-Karabakh: Lessons for the Future of Strike and Defense (December 8, 2020, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies), the authors argue that during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, “Azerbaijan’s combination of drones and artillery effectively targeted Armenia’s high-value military assets, most notably in attacks on T-72 tanks and S-300 air defenses”. They claim that, in particular, strikes on air defense units constrained Armenia’s ability to counter Azerbaijan’s UAVs. As a result, Armenian forces were eliminated in no time.

Every military analyst has been saying in one way or another that drones are the future weapons of the 21st century”. Here is what one expert, Louis A. Del Monte (author of multiple books on drones), has said: “Military nanotechnologies, especially nanobots [tiny nanoweapons], will emerge as the defining weapons of the twenty first century”. For self-defense, Armenia should seriously begin to either assemble combat drones or purchase them from China or India as soon as possible for “Whosoever Commands…” the Air, Commands the war.

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