From blitzkrieg to attrition.. to guerilla warfare?
The Nagorno-Karabakh theatre of conflict seems to have been experiencing a number of stages of evolution in terms of warfare strategies employed within a very short period. During the first day of fighting Azerbaijani forces, combined with mobile and massed armor formations, aimed at penetrating the enemy’s defensive system and encircling the remaining areas in a number of directions along the line of contact. Indeed, this strategy seemed to prove partly successful during the first day, as the Azerbaijani side managed to take back a number of villages and strategic heights of importance. However, soon enough it became obvious that the advantageous strategic position and long-established deterrent posture of the Armenian side helped them to slow down the advancement of the Azerbaijani forces.
The latter, in turn, seemed to have quickly switched to attrition strategies, with the only goal of wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and equipment. While attrition strategies imply the effective use of trenches as means of protection, through which the enemy would ultimately manage to gain a somewhat significant amount of time, - as was the case during the WWI -, the use of drones proved to completely alter these expectations. Hereby, the drone superiority of the Azerbaijani side seems to have exponentially increased the effectiveness of the attrition strategies, helping them to destroy the military equipment of the Armenian side within an unexpectedly short period of time. This can be demonstrated with the features of the enemy equipment the Azerbaijani side reported to have destroyed: while during the first couple of days the Azerbaijani forces managed to demolish a great amount of heavy military vehicles, such as tanks, BTRs and other technologies, the following days the Azerbaijani side claimed to have been destroying somewhat lighter vehicles.
Consequently, the Armenian side, facing an incomparably stronger opponent as a result of attrition strategies, seems to have no argument left other than resorting to guerilla warfare. Thus, ambushes, raids, “hit-and-run” tactics coupled with the heavy shelling of the Azerbaijani civilian sites through long-range armaments are expected to be prioritized by the Armenian forces in the days to come.