Armenia Table of Contents
Influenced by the requirements of supporting the forces of Nagorno-Karabakh against Azerbaijan and the long-term objective of military self-reliance, Armenia has worked toward making the Armenian Army a small, well-balanced, combat-ready defense force. Chief architects of the force were General Norat Ter-Grigoriants, a former Soviet deputy chief of staff who became overall commander of the new Armenian Army; Vazgan Sarkisian, named the first minister of defense; and Vazgan Manukian, who replaced Sarkisian in 1992.
As expressed by the military establishment during the planning stage, Armenia's military doctrine called for maintenance of defensive self-sufficiency that would enable its army to repel an attack by forces from Azerbaijan or Turkey, or both. That concept was refuted, however, by radical nationalists who advocated a more aggressive posture, similar to that of the Israeli army in defending a "surrounded" land, maintaining the armed forces at a high degree of readiness to inflict crippling losses on an enemy within days. Both doctrines emphasized small, highly mobile, well-trained units. The specific outcome of the debate over military doctrine has been concealed as a matter of national security. However, Armenia apparently surpassed its initial goal of 30,000 soldiers on active duty, achieving an estimated troop strength by early 1994 of 35,000. By that time, the Ministry of Defense had increased its goal to a standing army of 50,000, to be supplemented in wartime by a reserve call-up.
A top defense priority in 1994 was improving control of the Zangezur region, the vulnerable, far southeastern corridor bordering Iran and flanked by Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic and Azerbaijan proper. The program for Zangezur includes new military installations, especially on the Iranian border, as well as a new bridge and a new natural gas pipeline into Iran.
The army and the Ministry of Defense have structures similar to those of their counterparts in the former Soviet Union, except that the highest organizational level of the Armenian forces is a smaller unit, the brigade, rather than the traditional division, to maximize maneuverability. Plans call for brigades of 1,500 to 2,500 troops to be divided into three or four battalions, in the manner of the paramilitary forces of the Karabakh Armenians.
Data as of March 1994