|Name in Armenian||Արծրուն Հովհաննիսյան|
|Birth date||30 January 1980|
|Lived in||Tsoghamarg, Yerevan|
Artsrun Karapeti Hovhannisyan (Armenian: Արծրուն Կարապետի Հովհաննիսյան, born 30 January 1980 in Tsoghamarg) is the former press secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Armenia, a military expert and analyst. From March to July 2020 he held the position of Head of the Command and Staff Faculty at the Vazgen Sargsyan Military University, and from July of the same year - Head of the HR and Education Department. He is the author of numerous articles, monographs, works, reviews. From September 27 to November 9, 2020, during the Armenian-Azerbaijani war, he chaired the daily press conferences of the Armenian United Platform Center and presented the official position of the Republic of Armenia.
Postmordem of 2020 Karabakh War
Artsrun Hovhannisyan in his two recent YouTube videos:
This information will be useful for those who analyze wars and exercise common sense, and not the emotional folks guided by hatred. I will also address some accusations and the "media terror" against me.
[it looked doable at first]
Everyone was in great spirit during the first 10-14 days of the war. Despite the very heavy airstrikes of the early days, our land forces were acting in a literate manner. The enemy armies were unable to make major breakthroughs. That kept our spirits high. I don't think there was anyone in Armenia who wasn't excited about the heroism of our soldiers. We, the media, had to show this enthusiasm.
[go fight or go home, no whining]
Despite what my critics say, I never said "we are winning". I said, "we will win". The difference is clear but some groups with agendas are manipulating this.
Not a single country in the world ever says during the war that they are going to lose, while its army is still heroically fighting. That would be unnatural to tell your fighting solder that he has no chance to stand against the enemy.
After the 1941 tragedies of Smolensk and Kyiv that resulted in over 1 million Soviet soldiers being captured, had you asked any military analyst at the time about the chances of Soviet victory, they would say it's very slim. But you wouldn't be able to tell that by hearing Yuri Levitan (Soviet radio host).
I can give you many examples but you cannot give one opposite example that the state conducted whiny propaganda about not having a chance.
[do not beat your chest too much, tho]
Yes, pointless optimism is bad during the war and I get accused of peddling it, but let's objectively analyze the war reports chronologically. You will see that at some point there was no major optimism coming from me anymore. I gave constant warnings that the battles were heavy, that the situation was not that good, but I urged you not to be broken. Was I supposed to tell you to feel broken?
The regular army is heroically defending. We have major problems only in 2-3 regions, while elsewhere they are heroically defending. Was I supposed to preach defeatism among the rest? During WW2, people were court marshaled and executed for injecting pessimism among the fighting soldiers.
[who fights and who routs?]
I've witnessed low morale among reservists. When the secrecy period ends and we're able to reveal details, you will hear stories. Stories about how Artsakh women were convincing and shaming Artsakh men not to give up, to keep their spirits high. They did not want to hear from the men that they could not defend this or that village. Two Artsakh girls were shouting at folks who were crying that Lachin would fall tomorrow. "Pick yourself up. What is this?"
The claim that we could have a different outcome had we not encouraged the soldiers, is false. History lesson: the 1918 retreat in panic from Sarighamish to Ararat valley. The day the soldiers believe they cannot win, they will rout. And if the regular army routs, you cannot stop it.
[the war brings out the best but also the worst in people]
I witnessed the bitter truth on October 2 in Hadrut and Fizuli. That information could not be shared. In Hadrut, I was supposed to visit the front line and the headquarters of the 1st Defense Region. The commander was waiting for me. In order not to use my personal vehicle to drive there, we had to use one of the vehicles in the military base. Several drivers refused to take me there - they were scared.
A conscript from Artsakh volunteered. A wonderful boy. He said he had already lost three vehicles but he agreed to take me there. The enemy tried to strike us throughout the entire journey; there are witnesses. We saw destroyed vehicles and tanks on our way.
We arrived, met the commanders, spoke with soldiers. We saw a truly heroic fight by conscripts and contractors from the regular army. You've seen the videos of destroyed Azeri vehicles and personnel. Our soldiers used the bodies of dead Azeri soldiers to reinforce the trenches that were damaged by enemy artillery. I saw the courage of our soldiers.
But then we returned to a military base and witnessed the opposite. 300-400 reservists were singing Gini Lits with dhol and zurna, while the commander Artyom Gevorgyan was unable to gather a small group from them for the deployment on front lines to cover a gap.
We heard stories about how some of these reservists had burglarized officers' homes after being deployed there, how they stole an ATM machine and a bus before fleeing the town. I could not reveal this during the war. I didn't want to talk about it now, either. But that's how the wars are. Yet I still believed that we would win. Our [regular] soldiers were lifting up my spirit. It went both ways.
[Onik and Tonoyan prepare for a long winter]
There was a belief that the war would end in 10-15 days based on the 2016 experience and possible intervention from abroad. Even those who would later become our biggest critics were themselves very excited initially. They were mocking Aliyev on the internet and glorifying our troops. The excitement gradually disappeared when we realized the war was dragging longer.
I visited the Artsakh headquarters (bunker) twice, and once the CoGS office in Yerevan. I met CoGS Onik Gasparyan in mid-October and asked him how we would continue the war that was dragging despite the intensity being sharply lower compared to the first few days.
We were giving dozens of deaths per day by mid-October, compared to hundreds in the first few days. There were days in October that we would have less than a dozen losses. I wanted to know Onik Gasparyan's opinion.
But before that, I had spoken with MOD Davit Tonoyan. The latter believed we were facing the Turkish army that vastly outgunned us, we could not resist. That's why he believed we needed to shift to unconventional military tactics. This is also why Tonoyan had earlier wanted to develop the airforce and purchase SU fighter jets. We just didn't have enough time to finish this process.
When I met CoGS Onik Gasparyan, he told me approximately the same thing as Tonoyan did, that we could not resist in a conventional manner. They supported slow partisan warfare throughout the winter.
And if you notice from my press briefings, beginning that day, I gave hints about it on TV. I was saying that the density/intensity has fallen, the war might last longer, and that the air attacks and precision missiles might not be as crucial as before, which would be beneficial for us.
I made my own proposals for this. I asked my hunter and mount climber friends to help organize special groups. They didn't allow me to join these groups. We tried to find pickup vehicles for this type of warfare. My friends and I gathered dozens of pickups for hilly terrains. Our understanding was that the war would last until Spring. We believed in our victory. [Food for thought: In other words, the war wasn't lost because the army switched to guerrilla tactics with smaller groups. They attempted that tactic because they knew they were already losing the war.]
[Artsrun's sources & treason 404]
I was receiving the information exclusively from the CoGS and MOD, and occasionally from soldiers themselves to fill the dark spots. Accusing me or any soldier of treason and "selling lands" is disrespectful. These "treason" accusations are forcing me to reveal more of my activities during the war:
1-2 days before the fall of Hadrut, my brothers and I delivered vehicles at night by using a less dangerous route through the Fizuli region. We handed over the vehicles to commanders and returned through Goris while under surveillance.
I returned from Artsakh on November 6. Commanders then asked me to deliver some stuff on November 8. I asked my family member to help me deliver a drone for Shushi defense [That might be the the Russian/Armenian "Orlan" drone that was used to locate and target Azeri soldiers that were approaching Shushi, as seen in artillery strike videos published by Armenia].
[some folks were misreading things]
We would not have done all this had we not believed that we could win, despite mentioning thousands of times that the situation was serious and that slapping a flag on your car bumper would not help win the war. When the public near Varnisaj cafe cheered upon seeing me, I asked them to clap for the heroic soldier instead. I had to explain that the situation was serious.
The topic of deaths was manipulated. I did not give a specific total death toll during the war. This was a clear policy carried out by the Artsakh Defense Army. Someone circulated false rumors about 2,000 deaths. That day, when I went to give an interview to 5TV, the MOD channels had reported to me about ~1,600 deaths. Manipulating this to add a few hundred more deaths is inappropriate.
[Serj's dangerous interview]
Those who manipulate the Gandzak (Ganja) airport topic know very well what happened there. They know VERY well it's a secret operation that we must not publicly speak about because it could harm the country as a whole. I intentionally wrote nothing about the Gandzak airport. It was written by Artsakh Army and Artsakh officials.
One or two days before the airport strike, the Defense Army listed Azeri military objects located near the airport that could be targeted if Azerbaijan continued to target Artsakh's civilian population. Azerbaijan continued to target Artsakh's civilians. This was followed by the strike at the airport.
Not every detail should be publicly discussed. The publication by the Artsakh officials had a very clear reason and it was part of the operation. Do not manipulate those who cannot understand this on their own.
[in Soviet Russia, the messenger shoots YOU]
Parallel with the communication tasks, we also helped supply the front lines with arms. We had a technological shortage: communication, cameras, small surveillance drones, etc. PROFAL company did us a big favor and created several mulyazh [dummy devices?] for TOR missile units. It was so good that the antenna was spinning underneath. Such covers were being prepared by many, for various weapons.
Sometimes the Defense Army would be too busy so we had to deliver it ourselves to hotspots. The following day after installing it, the enemy conducted two strikes on it. We moved it to another location, they struck again. This was done on 6-7 mulyazhes.
[the media campaign against Artsrun]
[Rants about toxic personal attacks against him coordinated by some media outlets]. In 2014, when based on certain political calculations a media terror was launched against my boss and his family, I did not cave in and resisted it. That's when the hate propaganda shifted towards me.
I had the same media duties in 2016 and afterward, and my growing popularity was unacceptable for some circles. The hate intensified. Whenever someone would write something positive about me in 2016 and 2020, they were pressured to delete the comments.
They looked me in the eye in 2017 and said "You think we don't want to get rid of you? We do. We just don't have a proper replacement for you." The authors of these words could not stomach certain things.
I was and remain a "not one inch"-er, despite how unpopular it is today. It is a mindset. Today there is a race to show who was less not-one-incher, who was the first one critical of not-one-inchers, etc.
[the mistakes that were made]
Just as for any other military figure, it was difficult for me after the war, but I never searched for "traitors" right and left. I accept that everyone made a mistake 2, 3, 10 years ago, and during the war. Our mistake was not closing Artsakh doors [against those who were fleeing, presumably]. Our mistake was not executing those who were stoking panic in the army. That is my regret. I will write about this.
Now about some mistakes that we made in the media field. After 2016, I examined international practice to understand what we could have done better in 2016. I concluded that in leading states, the media agencies are those that manage the actual combat, and not "supportive" structures. I also concluded that the war takes place in a virtual field.
Based on these, it became necessary to create "information forces" that would operate online, simultaneously with ground/air warfare. And if it isn't properly subordinated and doesn't report directly to CoGS, then it will have problems. I presented the plan in 2016. It was not implemented for reasons unclear.
According to that model, there would be an information forces commander instead of a press secretary. It would work in conjunction with other branches. I urged the army to fix this during my resignation in 2020.
[how he convinced the army command to show the action map]
I came across this issue in 2016 and 2020. I had a problem with receiving information in a synchronized manner. You only learn about a general outcome of an operation once it is finished, you may receive contradictory information, etc. Most issues arose from this. The Information Center should directly report to CoGS.
It took a great effort and a lot of time for me to convince them to publish the map of where our and Azeri forces were. I said at the beginning of this war that we must publish a map, even if it's with some delay. For various reasons, the map was shown only on the 15-20th day, which is quite late.
[managing the optimism]
As I've said before, everyone was very optimistic during the first 10 days of the war because things weren't going too bad. We believed that the war would end soon and we would win. The messaging was optimistic during the first 10 days.
But it gradually reduced and there was none in the last 12 days. You can check the news chronologically. During my later briefings, I continuously warned against being overly optimistic. I said don't be extremely excited but also don't be extremely disheartened.
[the couch experts who invaded Baku]
You might have come across some phone calls from non-official sources with Artsakh dialect, in which they claimed that Armenian forces had already reached Getashen, and that our situation is so good that we have launched an attack in the north.
These had nothing to do with official sources, yet today we're being held accountable for their unnecessary noise.
[how an ant became an elephant]
Azeri intel units would appear and disappear in villages. It's a normal process in military warfare. They wanted to know the village's defense weaknesses, the mood. The media coverage of these small Azeri units would result in a big panic.
I did not believe at first when the MOD told me that some people were intentionally sabotaging us and politicizing it to accuse the government of "already having sold the lands, go home you don't have to fight." Or it could have been out of fear. Anyhow, this led to many villages abandoning defense. Our mistake was not executing those who stoke the panic and rumors. The "it's already sold" rhetoric broke the reservists' back.
In one village, 10-15 local men had their rifles on. By the way, one of our biggest errors was evacuating the Artsakh population in the early days. But there were villages where some men stayed to fight. Every village had its defense unit managed by former officers. They showed heroic defense.
[training the reservists]
We began working on reservists only from 2014-2015. The largest one was in 2019, with the mobilization of 45,000 reservists. I think we were late on this. Routine work wasn't done for years, especially on those who would mobilize and train for several weeks.
This is why the reservists were unfamiliar with the modern war and felt panic. This panic played a huge role. Very few commanders, including Arayik Melkumyan, were able to skillfully keep the reservists in good order and form units consisted of volunteers and locals.
[VOMA and other irregular units]
History proved that groups based on military clubs, militarized institutes, and patriotic upbringing were prepared the best. The weapon possession laws should be relaxed.
One example is the VOMA club. Despite some unfair criticism towards them, they did well because they were prepared. They did not rout. The panic did not affect them.
The same about the Practical Rifle Federation(?) and its leader Artyom Gevorgyan, with whom I worked to create Armenia's first civilian and military sniper tournament.
VOMA and similar clubs have become more popular after the war. They have high popularity. New ones are being founded. I highly value such clubs. These were the most effective from the reserves.
[do not let the boys down]
Whenever I would lose a friend or we would suffer losses in the frontlines, I would speak in a depressive tone. The army and MOD would beg me to lift my spirit up before going live for the news briefing, because there was no other option. If the soldier hearing my message did not believe in victory, they would not fight.
You never tell the full truth during a war. Even the most democratic states do not. Even knowing the full truth can be problematic. Often it is impossible for those who give you the news to know all the details because of rapid developments. No one does it, no one can do this. It causes panic and retreat. We should close the topic on this note.
I returned to Artsakh on November 5 and met the Artsakh Defense Army chief the next day. On November 8, I delivered a surveillance drone that was used for our artillery.
The Defense Army chief spoke about the looming battle for Shushi. His eyes were shining. He believed we could defend it. He crossed three times in front of me. He said he was waiting for some aid from Armenia's CoGS.
My commander Seyran Ohanyan was also in Shushi. I asked him how we could help. Everyone was calling me to see how they could help. There was excitement about the need to defend Shushi. I returned to Armenia and tried to gather the requested aid.
[Bayraktars and Israeli drones]
After the war, I was accused of claiming that drones aren't necessary. What actually happened was someone used a drone to damage oil storage in Saudi Arabia. Armenian social media was filled with comments that we need to buy these drones.
I said you cannot resolve the issue with these types of drones. The issue is more conceptual. They cut my words out of context and said "Artsrun Hovhannisyan says drones cannot solve the problem, we don't need drones."
I've always insisted that we need an air warfare toolkit. Ten years ago I spoke about the need to purchase SU jets.
Or in early 2020 when the news broke out that Azerbaijan was importing Bayraktar drones, I said that smaller drones can be more dangerous than Bayraktars if they are used in a specific manner. I have studied this field for a decade. [Here is my article from 2010](http://www.noravank.am/arm/articles/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=4892).
Thanks to the enemy propaganda, Bayraktar became a widely discussed topic in Armenia. You should understand that Bayraktar is not as dangerous when viewed separately. Bayraktar played the role of cooperating with Israeli drones. It is the Israeli drones that made the first strike, they were more dangerous, they achieved better results.
Bayraktar was dangerous when it worked in a network in conjunction with Hermes-900 to receive intel from it, when it worked with F16 which targeted the air-defense that could be used against Bayraktar.
This is an entire military science. Are you trying to argue by writing one Facebook comment after falling for Turkish propaganda that advertised Bayraktar to the Moon? Bayraktar is not Wunderwaffe.
[the legendary Azeri tank brigade that is no more]
During the first week of the war, the units from the 1st Defense Region received a heavy blow, participated by a legendary Azeri T-90/BTR brigade from the 4th Army Corps. They tried to achieve a breakthrough here.
If you've been here, you'll remember it's flat land, so Azeris decided to move forward by concentrating a high density of armor vehicles. Our army heroically resisted this brigade in the 1st and 9th defense regions. They did it brilliantly.
The photo that I published showing the destroyed T-90 and BTR 90 was from the annihilated Azeri brigade. They were literally broken. They could not form a crack. The entire Armenian command staff took part with anti-tank weapons in their hands. This is one of the most heroic moments of our nation, and we must separate and analyze this episode.
Tags: #ArtsrunHovhannisyan #2020war
2021 August 26 Civilnet interview
Interview with ex-MOD spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan. How Shushi was recaptured by Armenian forces after a big counterattack on November 8 (Gyorbagyor), and how it fell a day later. Azeris sneaking into villages for recon, panic, & planting flags. Onik's southern attack. Building drones. SU-30SM.
Artsrun: we need institutional reforms in the military information field to bring it under one unified military command to address virtual warfare. [he spoke about the problems in the previous video linked above]
I'm happy about the government's recent announcement to create a Drone Department. We should have done that long ago. I've been speaking about its need since 2010. Now I'm saying the same about the need to create Military Information Forces.
The whole world has already gone through this. The leading countries have implemented it. Americans have a decade-long experience by now, while China and Russia formed it a few years ago. Armenia has gone through a lot. What else does it take for us to understand that we need Information Forces with a unified command?
The commanders make decisions about the artillery, aviation strikes, tanks, etc. but do not take care of the information side, because it's not part of their duty and it's viewed as a secondary thing.
Reporter: your critics say Shushi had already surrendered by November 6, while on November 8 you wrote Gyorbagyor 2020 (Azeri forces being destroyed)
Artsrun: Shushi definitely did not surrender on November 6. I was there on November 6. I returned to Armenia in late November 6. On November 7 we almost completely lost Shushi, before recovering it on November 8, and lost it again on November 9. [probably why Pashinyan wrote "the Shushi battles continue" on Facebook after the initial loss]
When I wrote "Gyorbagyor 2020, remember this day" on the evening of November 8, I was very excited because we had just recaptured the city, but I was not allowed to share that information because it was not completely cleared because of ongoing battles.
The information that we had recaptured the city was coming not only through MOD's official channels but also from personal contacts with soldiers fighting in Shushi. They had also informed me that after November 7's loss, we almost fully restored it on November 8, but localized battles continued within the city.
I gave an interview to Petros Ghazaryan after 10:00 pm on November 8, and I was eager to inform him that we had finally recovered the city. The Armenian forces had launched a massive strike in the morning of November 8, towards Azeri forces located in and around Shushi [the Iskander footage, maybe?]. I do not have full details on why failed to hold it on November 9.
On the morning of November 9, we were waiting for final permission to enter Shushi to film it, to show how it was cleared of the enemy. That's how confident I was. Hence the "Gyorbagyor 2020, remember this day". By the way, those words were coined by the MOD itself. I never used terminology without consulting them.
Those who followed the events carefully saw my attitude and the fashion of presenting news depending on good and bad days. You could tell how excited I was on November 8.
Reporter: on November 6 you said that the situation had changed in our favor, but on November 7 you said that Azeris had moved additional forces toward Shushi. Is this how they were able to take the city that day?
Artsrun: Yes. I do not have full information about the Azeri troop movement towards Shushi. There were contradicting claims, coming from Armenian generals and commanders, about the size of Azeri forces. The numbers ranged from 200 to 4,500. Do you see the wide range?
Reporter: you began publishing a map on October 24. Many villages were marked with a rifle, indicating localized battles. You reported that our spetsnaz forces were cleaning them up. But weren't those villages already fallen?
Artsrun: No. My critics claim that we did not want to admit that those villages had already fallen and that we were allegedly presenting them as "ongoing fights". In reality, the villages had not fallen.
For example, we had armed villagers defending their villages. In one instance, when we marked one such village as "disputed", I got a call from an ex-military villager asking why his village was marked as disputed. "We cleared it from enemy two days ago," he informed. We also had the opposite situation where Azeri authorities claimed there were Azeris in a village, but MOD would deny the claim.
The fact that we are discussing this topic today shows that Azerbaijan's strategy has worked very well against us. Azeris would enter a village with Armenian positions, burn down a house in the suburb, take a photo near their flag, and escape.
This would lead to the population fleeing in panic, followed by panic among the soldiers, some of whom would route. Azeris would then come back a few days later and take the village. It worked well for them. The strategy was to stoke doubt within our troops that we would be unable to hold the village.
I have witnessed dozens of instances of this argument between the regular army and Artsakh authorities/volunteers. The army asked them to defend a village for just 1 or 2 more days until we could send reinforcement, while the local authorities would spread panic "vay, the enemy has already brought hundreds of diversants".
I know an Artsakh spetsnaz guy who told me about one such incident. They reached a village and learned that some defenders had already fled. Upon reaching there, they asked locals to show where the Azeri diversionary groups were hiding. The villagers would then say "there are no Azeri troops here, there are just 4 Azeri artillery guiders sitting on top of a nearby hill." The spetsnaz would then fire a few [PK?] rounds at the Azeris, causing them to flee, before urging Armenians to return. Some would, some would not, depending on the level of panic.
Reporter: what was Pashinyan referring to on October 7 when he gave an interview to Russian RBK, saying that the Armenian army had successfully conducted a counter-attack on Jabrayil direction and that it could help secure a victory? [is this the tank attack that initially disoriented Azeris but ultimately failed because one battalion fled?]
Artsrun: I do not possess the full details of that specific episode, but thanks for asking questions that are actually related to military strategy, and not the secondary "why did you lie" nonsense that I've been hearing after the war.
What I can tell you about that October 7 attack is that up until October 10, things were looking promising. We were all extremely excited because our regular forces did not route and continued to fight despite the heavy attacks of the first days. The front line was not cracked in classical terms. We had retreated in some areas to form new front liens, but the defense was not cracked. We were all excited. The enemy was being right exhausted in front of our eyes. We could see how they were running out of steam.
But then the enemy moved its resources from north and center towards the south, to ensure a much bigger quantitative advantage in that area. That's when the situation changed. Today there are political attacks that ridiculously claim that the Jabrayil counter-attack was a political stunt by Pashinyan. It's laughable. It was a military initiative.
Years ago, when the generals were discussing what the future wars would look like, I was part of the minority who said that under new warfare, a counter-attack is almost guaranteed to fail, especially if the enemy has precision weapons and air superiority. Especially if the enemy has numerical superiority and you don't have large divisions in your rear.
Under the 4th generation warfare (Soviet-style), a counter-attack could be acceptable, but only if the preconditions are met before the attack. I have yet to ask then-army chief Onik Gasparyan if those conditions were met before his authorization to begin.
Some of the conditions: did you stop the enemy advancement before counter-attacking, did you deal a heavy artillery blow first, did you bring at least an equal number of troops. I have conflicting information, suggesting that our numbers were too small.
Did our troops even reach their destination? This is why I've been saying that 5th gen warfare requires a new strategy. You cannot even "reach" the enemy for a counter-attack. You get taken out by the enemy's precision weapons and airforce.
Reporter: after the July clashes, we knew that a big war was coming because of reports about mercenaries, [jihadist] pickup trucks, etc. At the time, the Armenian government drafted a new bill to create the ashkharazor army [everyone prepares for war], but we did not see significant reservist training. Not much was done.
Artsrun: good question. Training topic is something that can be answered by Security Council members who drafted the proposals. I informed the authorities that I was under a heavy attack by Azeri hackers, something that happened before the 2016 war, too. It was an indicator. I know that the army took some preparatory steps but I don't possess all the secrets.
Reporter: things were going well in the north. Why didn't we attack to capture new lands?
Artsrun: I don't possess the answer to that question, but as an analyst, I'm also interested. I was waiting every day for our troops to attack in the north. We were in a better position than Azeris. Per military rules, when you lose in one area [south] you should use your advantage in another direction to score victories. I was expecting that, while at the same time knowing that we did not have strong attack power.
Why did we not have a strong attack power? We have not been honest with each other. For years, we trained our soldiers to be nothing more than armed guards, and not soldiers. Their role was to stand and defend until the end. They were not trained to capture. I know the training materials. THERE IS NOT ONE BIT OF INFORMATION ABOUT ATTACKING. Counter-attacking to recover a lost position is not the same.
Our commanders must be honest and admit that for 25 years, we never relocated a large military unit from its permanent position and take them to a new environment for attack preparations. The meticulously designed Noyemberyan training camp doesn't count.
There were fake audio recordings circulated during the war, featuring people with Artsakh dialect, claiming that Armenian soldiers had already attacked in the north and captured Gyulistan and Shahumyan. Under the context of our favorable positions in the north, it seemed plausible, to the point that I had to reach out to my official sources and find out whether these rumors are true.
Reporter: the former government claimed that Armenia had a strong military production industry. They displayed Armenian-made Krunk drones in 2012. They also accused Pashinyan of scrapping drone-purchasing plans after he came to power in 2018.
Artsrun: drones have become a trendy political tool after the war. You will hear more lies and dirt than truth, however. I've been one of the five people who was engaged with drones since 2007. I tried to prove my case in 2010, while General Balayan was trying to create the Krunk drone.
So we had 11 years since 2010 to take action. Now we sit and claim "I had plans to purchase drones but someone canceled it". Maybe you should have acted instead of always "planning". Get real, people.
Our society has a problem: we don't give a rat arse about theorists/analysts. Those who make decisions don't want to hear us. They make decisions then fight against each other o who was right and wrong.
Or the complaints on "why did you buy the SU-30SM jets?". When we were having jet debates, nobody invited me to discuss the topic. Nobody said, "this guy has written books about aviation, so let's invite and hear him out on why he is promoting jets". [this was years before the 2020 war]. I invited others to prove that air superiority was unnecessary and that SU would be pointless.
What did the war show us? Even today these people won't stay quiet after being proven wrong. Air superiority is a crucial element needed for victory. The SU jet is the crown of it, the main tool. We're talking about a network of air tools, not just SU jets.
We did not have time to implement the SU program because we began working on it too late. We purchased the jets in 2019/20 instead of 2010/15. You need time to adapt to new technology (jet details, pilot training, the jet's cooperation with other weapons, etc.)
We didn't do anything for years, and now we make political manipulations with "we had plans". They say they planned to purchase drones from Israel. What they don't tell you is that purchasing from Israel would be almost impossible. Azerbaijan had struck deals with Israeli manufacturers that they would not sell these weapons to Armenia.
Did they mention that had we purchased the drones from Israel, we would have big problems with our strategic ally [Russia]? These were all barriers. It wasn't as easy as paying and taking.
We had plans to import 2,000 drones, they said. As if those drones were laying around, collecting dust, and we just had to pick them up like a C-Class Mercedes. That's not how it works, people.
Okay. Let's say we purchased them. Do they mention that drones, just as the jets, would require lengthy training and adaptation? You can't import it, give it to a soldier, and expect him to strike a target two hours later. It takes at least 6 months to learn the drone's [arandznaki khndirneru yuratsume], their individual property alone, and that's not taking into account their cooperation with other air tools.
Reporter: after the July clashes, High-Tech Minister Hakob Arshakyan presented Armenian-made drones and said they were great, while after the war, he said the drones did not undergo the experimentation phase yet.
Artsrun: there were many concept devices. We have a beurocracy issue here. We have to be honest here. We have excellent young groups working on good drones. I've been personally engaged with some of them.
These products must undergo an official state experiment, military certification, etc. To have a good drone, you must have very high-quality components: engines, cameras, programs.
Out of those necessary components, Armenians only produce good programs. Good engines are produced only by 2-3 countries in the world. It's difficult to import them. Turkey is a NATO member that's why they get their hands on them. They signed direct contracts with Canada, the US, and the EU years ago.
Turkey began producing Bayraktars at the same time as we were trying to kickstart the Armenian drone industry in the early 2010s. I was a theorist at the time, promoting the idea, joined by two manufacturers.
We need a complex air defense system with the SU jet and the control system as the throne. It should have branches with drones being part of it. Every weapon will have its duty. Did you know that poor or cold weather is a major problem for drones and that it can become worthless without jet support?
Other false claims were made that we did not have an ideal air defense in 2016 but we had it in 2020. There is no such thing as ideal air defense. An air defense without a jet is never "ideal". There is no air defense unit that can neutralize air threats all by itself.
Some claim that had we purchased 100 TOR and S-300 air-defense units, we would be in a different position today. Wrong. The enemy would bring 10,000 [drones] against your 100 TOR. The air attacker has a physics advantage over a defender on the ground. The key is to have air superiority and not an "ideal air-defense" system.
It was declared on the first day of the war that our air defense was destroyed. That was false. OSA units had accomplished serious missions during the war. Many of them were never destroyed. Some people claimed the OSA was all destroyed, for political reasons [to attack Pashinyan's decision to purchase the OSA in 2019].
Sure, TOR is better than OSA, but it's also 10 times more expensive. TOR was made to replace OSA. But OSA can also achieve success within its limits. Globally, the concept of OSA/TOR is a failed one, them alone are not enough.
We have not yet learned lessons. Learning lessons requires an atmosphere without hatred and hysteria, where you aren't in a constant search of a guilty one. This was the atmosphere in Germany after the WW1 defeat. Being the smart people they are, the German elites - especially the military - eventually decided to sit down and objectively discuss their mistakes. The outcome was an excellent military "blitzkrieg" doctrine. It's another topic that it later failed due to political reasons.
But I do see similar post-war developments that encourage me, like the decision by the government to form a Drone Department. The ongoing 3-month reservist retraining warms up my heart. But I still see efforts, after all we have gone through, by some people to do everything to avoid the draft. We should have held these "mob" exercises since 1994 without excuses.
The army has decided to correct its mistake [with reservist retrainings]. If we do this every year, we will have a different quality army. We should put down our fakeness and do the right thing.
Tags: #Shushi #village #2020war #Artsrun #CounterAttack #SUjet #drones
Source of translation: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/pexq9h/interview_with_exmod_spokesman_artsrun/
Artsrun: we will continue to discuss the war, what was done, what needs to be done. After my first two analyses, I'm not yet confident that some people are prepared to discuss the war in a serious manner without personal insults, because of emotional outbursts and lack of willingness to engage in professional discussions.
Time has to pass and we must analyze this while in a more sober state after we gather more information, and when we're able to declassify some details.
There are different strategic indicators about the country's preparedness for war. Different military schools list different factors, but the main points are below...
1) The economy.
The share of the military budget in GDP... There is an opinion that you should not follow the standard "4% maximum" rule if you're in a constant state of war. We will talk about this.
Let's discuss the military expenditures per soldier. In Armenia, during the past 10-15 years, it was up to $8,000.
To understand whether or not that's a lot, let's compare it to a similar country. When we take into account various things, Lebanon is the closest country to us. They spent $20,000.
Azerbaijan spent $33,000. I'll let you decide whether that's a lot or not.
It is true that in addition to the officially allocated budgetary funds Armenia was also using "side channels" to purchase arms, because of the shadowy economy, etc. I have witnessed that practice since 2010-11. But these extras aren't significant that could, let's say, come close to being half of the official military budget.
Since 2014, and especially after 2016, the $200M loan from Russia was a significant aid. It was supposed to repeat $100M/year. It reached a new level in 2018-2019. Armenia's per-soldier expenditure had reached $10,000 by 2019 (the highest ever). But either way, all these loans and side expenditures did not have the same effect that a very sharp increase in the military budget would.
2) The population size.
The population is reflected in the army draft. The size is also important when it comes to those living in the conflict zone.
I'll tell you a story. During a 2015 education trip abroad, we were studying at a place with 3 Azeris: two men, one woman. She would always create scandals with Armenians. On one occasion we held an event in which we presented Armenian history and culture. She tried to interrupt it. She couldn't even speak proper Russian or English, but she said something that grabbed the attention of representatives from 45 countries who were present. She said Armenians took Artsakh and emptied it, destroyed the railways, roads, etc. I may not agree with her on all points, but we Armenians should have moved and lived on Artsakh lands after liberating them. Sadly, we did not.
We were not honest with each other. We were not honest about how much we loved and helped Artsakh. How often did you travel to Artsakh?
Back to demographics... I won't give specific military draft numbers because it's officially classified but I'll say this: between 2000-2010, our annual draft numbers declined by 50%. Between 2010-2019, the numbers were cut in half.
Some former military officials launched criticism after the war, claiming we lost the war because some units was closed [or merged]. Dear militarymen, of course, the reduction in the number of army units played a negative role, but don't you want to ask why they were slashed?
It's another thing whether the 2016-2020 military unit slashes/mergers were done properly. We can talk about it later.
3) Educational-cultural development of army and population.
This is very important. I can talk very long about this topic because there are almost no classified parts in this field. Let's talk about our education and values.
What have we done so far? We prepared a national doctrine, strategic documents, all written beautifully. As a rule of thumb, a country should use these documents to guide the process of preparing for war. What type of war are you expecting? What weapons will you need? How to prepare the population? Will the war be blitz or slow? We will talk about "predicting the type of war" in future discussions.
Today we're talking about our value system. People who were tasked with developing it since the independence days had formed a low-value, foreign, non-Armenian value system, at the level of "Indian soap operas". We were fed garbage through every microphone and TV. This cheapness poured into our brains through ears and nose.
The "producers" of this value system are accusing others of treason today. People who murdered the Armenian culture in the past 25-30 years talk about "Homeland" today as if they are the heroes today.
The masterminds of this cultural genocide know who they are. Many of them became stars by providing services to higher-ups.
During the war, we used various social media platforms to share the news. We had a team because I couldn't do it all by myself. Young and active experts were managing my social media accounts. I barely had time to log into Facebook. To confuse the enemy [about my location], I would allow my staff to post Facebook activity for several hours, while I would travel to the borders. I was not using Instagram and didn't even know I had a page.
After the war, an event "saved" my life and forced me to "discover" my Instagram. I asked the crew for the login and password. I began reading the Instagram posts written during and after the war, and noticed that our "stars" [aforementioned "servants"] had written positive comments about me during the war, but later felt afraid of their masters and deleted them. Instagram keeps these deleted posts. It's funny. God bless all of them. It's just something I wanted to share with you.
I don't care about people's political views. I respect the person's contribution to the military. I have always and will always love [famous patriotic genre singer-turned HHK MP] Shushan Petrosyan.
Nersik Ispiryan is a friend and a phenomenal performer of patriotic songs, regardless of his opinion towards me. While I was in 7th and 9th Defense Rings in Artsakh, soldiers would tune in to Nersik's songs. I'd called Nersik and tell him about it.
I remember the barriers Nersik faced years ago when he tried to organize a solo concert. Meanwhile, the modern singers with often unknown genders had no issues.
4) Strategic command system.
The command system is complex and we have problems here. Let's talk about the strategic system. When we conducted the SHANT military exercises years ago, it exposed a very important problem. I've spoken about such problems, but not about the problem in the "strategic" system.
Artsakh Defense Army, being a separate structure independent from Armenia, caused very serious problems in the control system. This war showed that the problem was rooted very deep. It became worse ESPECIALLY after the 2015 Constitutional amendment. I can't give all details because it contains secrets.
[FLASHBACK: Security Council chief Armen Grigoryan gave an interview after the war and accused Serj Sargsyan of damaging the MOD/army command link with the 2015 Constitutional amendments, which was a "selfish and self-centric amendment". Gen. Samvel Babayan later said the command problems between Armenian MOD and Armenian Army existed even before the 2015 amendments, but as far as I recall, he did not mention the issue with Artsakh Army command, as mentioned by Artsrun today. Back to Artsrun...]
The expert circles must discuss the Constitutional amendment and its effect on command, even if it's done behind closed doors. Our command system had greatly suffered after this amendment.
[Artsrun says the Artsakh army should have been controlled by the Armenian side instead of being "decentralized".]
Let's stop calling each other "Turk" and analyze all this with a clear mind. We are all guilty. I intentionally don't give names during my criticism. When you point a finger at someone and shout "you are wrong", he will not accept it. You have to explain point-by-point what the mistakes are. Then they accept it. Let's respect each other. Part 4 of the analysis is coming soon. //
Tags: #postmortem #MilitaryExpenditure #values #2015amendment #ConstitutionalAmendment #Artsrun #PopulationSize #ArmySize
|Armenian dialects||Eastern Armenian +|
|Birth date||January 30, 1980 +|
|Birth day||30 +|
|Birth month||January +|
|Birth year||1,980 +|
|Birthplace coordinates||40° 56' 53", 43° 51' 22"Latitude: 40.94806|
Longitude: 43.85611 +
|Birthplace name||Tsoghamarg +|
|Languages||Armenian + and Russian +|
|Lived in||Tsoghamarg + and Yerevan +|
|Name in Armenian||Արծրուն Հովհաննիսյան +|
|Person name||Artsrun Hovhannisyan +|