According to the Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia (RA) the essential goal of the Armed Forces is to ensure the state’s external security and continuous increase of the security situation of Armenia and Artsakh. Below I am presenting the vision of the RA Defence Minister for implementation of the aforementioned grand purpose and other priorities of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces set forth in the Government Programme.
The unstable security environment of the RA and challenges facing the state and society, and external threats, including direct military ones, emanating from those challenges, require a reliable defence system. In addition to a proactive foreign policy, that system is the essential condition for: assured and sustainable defence capacity of Armenia and Artsakh that fosters economic development; provision of safety and security for Artsakh’s population; and creation of favourable conditions for Armenia and Artsakh in the settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; and, if necessary, for negotiating from a position of strength.
The paramount goal of the Defence System is the formation of armed forces that are combat-ready, apolitical, subject to the democratic and civil oversight, and open to all-inclusive societal engagement. Such an Armed Forces would require considerable resources that are disproportionately large versus Armenia’s current capabilities, which should be combined with highest standards of transparency, the most efficient use of human and other resources, preclusion of squandering, and absolute public trust in the army.
As the crucial means of increasing combat effectiveness and efficiency of the Armed Forces, the Government Programme explicitly articulates the imperative to radically change the current atmosphere in, and approaches to, the force development and military service. Undergoing a cognitive transformation to replace our sense of obligation with a sense of mission is essential for attaining this paramount objective. This applies to each and all categories of personnel of the defence sector, from generals and officers to junior and senior warrant officers and privates, from discretionary position holders and civil servants to auxiliary staff. Sense of obligation usually instills into a person a culture of ‘standing by for order’; and this person uses ‘received no order’ explanation as an excuse if inaction resulted in mission failure. Sense of mission brings about a completely opposite culture: this implies an ownership of the given task, enterprise or conception; when the responsibility for accomplishing the goal is equally shared by the defence minister and a junior servicemember, by general and private alike; and at times your own disciplined initiative may truly open up strategic opportunities.
Adhering to this logic, we should all be guided by consciousness of the historic mission assigned to us by our state and people. Any person holding a senior position must realize that in order to perform this mission best, one must excel in the following two core functions:
First is leading subordinates: lead by example; reward people based on their merits; punish justly; assign a clear mission and provide a reasonable guidance for its accomplishment; allow for disciplined initiative, while controlling implementation and not shirking overall responsibility; and finally, be tolerant of minor slips - and you will find that you have established a high performance team with healthy balance of character, competence, and commitment of its members.
Second is visualization of resources, including planning, acquisition, and oversight of their expenditure. First of all, we must realize that Armenian human resources are limited; hence the Armenian soldier and officer must focus on qualitative excellence, rather than quantitative criteria. Every single commander and official must be guided by consciousness that human, material, financial and other resources allotted by society for provision of the state and public security are to be used with extreme efficiency. Improper, ineffective, uneconomical and inefficient expenditure of resources is especially detrimental to countries like Armenia, with limited financial capacities and relatively large armed forces. We all must realize that material and financial resources provided by the society to the Armed Forces are assets saved by the citizens from their own welfare, healthcare, educational and other spheres and allocated to us for realizing security objectives. This matter is of even greater importance in countries with compulsory military service, when the state is responsible for the living conditions of soldiers, their nutrition, clothing, and rest and leisure time. From this point of view, each commander should be aware that he holds primary responsibility for the lives, safety and welfare of the conscripts entrusted to him by parents. On the other hand, every conscript should understand that being a defender of the Motherland, he is no longer under the care of parents and dear ones, and must physically and psychologically be ready to face the hardships and challenges of the military service with honour.
Absent proper fairness, commitment and solidarity in its ranks, the army would be doomed to failure however strong weaponry and large number of personnel it has. Formation of these attributes should not be taken for granted; rather they are dependent on successful daily efforts aimed at eradication of negative practices and their vestiges, and promotion of the positive ones. There must be no manifestation of corruption in the army whatsoever. Corruption itself is a vice in any domain of functioning of the state; it is twice as bad a calamity in military sphere, where - if not curbed - it would materialize in the form of a malfunctioned shot, vehicles unable to exit a garage, and food without necessary nutritional value for soldiers. Hence, activities aimed at building integrity and enhancing accountability should be in the focus of attention of the MoD leadership.
To reduce and manage corruption risks and enhance integrity norms in defence sector and armed forces, it is necessary to develop transparent procedures for management -i.e. planning, procurement, consumption, control and accountability- of material and technical resources. These procedures are designed to ensure that resource allocation and capability development, along with synchronization of management and budgetary decisions, as well as logistical sustainability of budgetary programs, and a rational decision-making among competing demands are all based on defence strategy priorities. And since the requirements of the armed forces in the current security environment will in most cases exceed the economic potential of the state, we must completely eliminate the impact of parochial interests in resource management, when during submittal of its requirements one or another component of the armed forces does not view them within the full spectrum of combat capabilities; at the same time precluding acquisitions (whether they are systems, complexes, goods or services) unsubstantiated by military science that run the risk of early obsolescence or becoming unaffordable.
One of the most important objectives of the Armed Forces is the realization of constitutional requirement for the Army and Defence System to remain apolitical and politically neutral. In this regard, one of the outcomes of the already mentioned cognitive transformation should be the army’s practical refrainment from any possible illegitimate influence on the political and electoral processes, or from making a purposeful impact on the election results. As citizens in uniforms, servicemembers should exercise their right to participate in the formation of the country's political authorities only through free expression of will and in a disciplined manner as it befits militaries - without any undue influence. For this purpose, soon there will be recommendations for establishing mechanisms in the electoral code pertaining to the election campaign in RA Armed Forces.
At the same time, it shouldn't be forgotten that the army is an inseparable part of the public and should be transparent to the civil society to the maximum permissible extent. Identification of problems in the armed forces by broader social strata, the media and non-governmental organizations will provide for expanded discourse informed by unbiased opinion, thus contributing to search and realization of more fair and efficient solutions.
The Government Programme also calls for adjustments to the “RA Armed Forces Development Plan” and “RA Arms and Military Equipment Development State Programme.” As the two main strategic guidelines for the defence sector, these documents need to be adapted to match their conceptual provisions with new political priorities and military posture policies, as well as exposed to mid-course review and task update. The endstate of the updated documents will be enhancement of combat capabilities of the Armed Forces and battlecraft of the personnel; and in order to achieve these ends, there will be activities planned to increase allocation of resources in some areas, improve their cost effectiveness in other spheres, and transition to economy regime in still other sectors, hence attaining higher overall effectiveness in the Defence System.
Below I will address the following priority goals for development of Defence Sector and Armed Forces:
Priority Goal 1.
Equipping of the Armed Forces with up-to-date weapons, military equipment and material and technical means, introduction of principles and systems of contemporary military management and setting up of new standards for enhancement of battlecraft. Here, our endstate is to bring the level of combat readiness of the army in accord with the scope of military threats and the character of a possible war, in order to develop military capabilities necessary to deter and prevent armed attack against the Republic of Armenia, and, if deterrence fails, to stop military operations at the earliest opportunity and on favourable for Armenia terms.
Our foremost primary objective is to create favourable military conditions for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In the conflict settlement process, no matter how long it takes, we will not allow the adversary to speak to us from the position of power and pursue maximalist goals. Any “deconstructive” action on the frontier, whether it is in the form of subversive penetration, sniper fire, positional relocations, and concentration of forces for a large-scale attack, will be met with a drastic and sobering response. To do so, we will continue to consistently develop the combat capabilities of the armed forces in order to maintain and further enhance the capacity to produce necessary combat effects on the adversary at the right time, in the right place and in the right format. The combat tasks are already assigned, capabilities are built, and we work on making them even stronger.
The long-term modernization process of the Armed Forces will encompass all domains of military power, starting from combat alert duty, long-range deterrence and combat training, all the way to military management system, new methods of warfighting and education. Certainly, of crucial importance is equipping the inventory of the Armed Forces with modern armaments; and in this sphere we will both engage in military-technical cooperation with allied and partner countries and develop domestic military industry. Our military-technical and military-industrial policy is primarily focused on increasing the range, accuracy and effectiveness of the strike and fire engagement capabilities of the armed forces; and to this end we will continue to equip inventory of the army with up-to-date long-range precision missile attack, artillery and air-defence assets, as well with multipurpose aviation.
Modernization of the Armed Forces Command & Control (C2) System and management culture is also a primary objective. That system should have sufficient responsiveness, viability, mobility and technology intensiveness necessary for conducting contemporary military operations. In addition to technical solutions, for implementation of this objective we will continue introducing C2 principle of "Mission Command" aimed at fostering initiative, quick orientation, decision, and action. The essence of this principle is as follows: provide your subordinates with necessary resources and capabilities, give them sound guidance and confidence, and you will see that they will find better solutions on the ground and, most importantly, will execute them more swiftly than if you were to try to decide for all, and in so doing remain oblivious to the peculiarities of situation in the area of responsibility of each individual commander.
Of no lesser importance is an overhaul of forms and methods of warfare, i.e. military art, and creation of capabilities to carry out decentralized and distributed operations, in order to bring the armed forces preparedness in line with the character of the possible war and ensure that the enemy is outpaced both in decision-making and action.
And, of course, it is important to pursue a policy of promoting investments in the military-industrial complex and establishing joint ventures through improvement of tax and administrative procedures, attracting foreign investments, and setting up joint ventures within public, private and international co-operation. The Ministry of Defence will stimulate generation of appropriate production capacities, advancement of Research and Development and applied science, and increase in the scientific-and-technological specialist potential in order to ensure prompt implementation of Defence Procurement and Acquisition Order for the development, production, operation, repair and modernization of arms and military equipment.
Priority Goal 2.
Continual equipping of the lines of close contact with adversary with state-of-the-art technical means, and increasing efficiency of executing combat tasks. We must maximize, on the one hand, our ability to identify, acquire and engage enemy sniper activity, subversive penetration and assault attempts, and, on the other hand, the degree of cover, concealment and protection of own personnel.
In this context, the primary objective is to improve the conditions of combat alert duty and increase the safety of the personnel. We must gradually take steps to replace the static defence we are employing at the forward line with mobile-flexible defence, equipped with video monitoring and other surveillance systems and remotely controlled weapons. With this type of defence posture the following will be achieved: the personnel will be significantly less exposed to enemy aiming fire; the level of protection and resilience of the personnel will improve; and the likelihood of ambushing and destruction of enemy subversive groups will increase. For this purpose, among other forces and assets, there are reconnaissance, technical and human intelligence and analytical capabilities being generated to provide early warning of the enemy’s intents and concepts of operation at strategic level and all the way down the depth of his operational layout.
Priority Goal 3.
Essential increase in the quality and effectiveness of the Personnel (Morale Building) Service. Our endstate here is to bolster morale and discipline of the Armed Forces personnel, ensure protection of human rights in the army, minimize non-statutory relationships, and prevent to the maximum extent cases of injuring the servicemembers’ dignity, as well as self-harm and suicide attempts.
In order to assure protection of human rights within the armed forces, our primary objective is to carry out activities aimed at awareness and legal consciousness raising, transparency enhancement and simplification of the internal investigation processes.
Priority Goal 4.
Ensuring the continuity of military service members’ education throughout the military service. As a crucial line of effort of the Armed Forces development strategy, we must work consistently to increase the educational qualification and the intellectual level of a service member.
Our endstate is to lay down new standards of professionalism and morality in the army, to be manned by skilful, ambitious and leading officer corps, and trained, educated, motivated and combat-effective soldiers. To this end we will take steps to consolidate the professional identity and reputation of the Armed Forces, to include introduction of a new uniform symbolizing national values.
Education is tightly bound to Human Resource Management. The staff changes in the Defence System will be carried out along the complementary directions of drawing on a pool of talent from public administration sector and civil society, and utilising in the best possible way the existing professional cadres. The leadership of the Ministry of Defence will put into practice merit-based career advancement policy, thus entrusting increasingly responsible positions to the uniformed and civilian members of the profession of arms who possess strong personality, leadership traits, professional expertise, and commitment to mission.
Priority Goal 5.
Proper and complete material support of military service members. We must ensure protection of the rights of all military servicemembers and their proper logistical and medical support, as an object of oversight and care by the Armed Forces’ leadership, the Government and the public.
Our objective is to improve the qualitative and quantitative indicators of personal supplies - uniforms, underclothes, hygiene items, as well as the diet of service members. In this regard, a package of recommendations on the improvement of relevant standards will soon be developed by the Ministry of Defence and submitted to the Government of the Republic of Armenia. We also need to work towards outsourcing a number of support services, on the grounds of a dramatic improvement of their quality and forestalling corruption risks.
Priority Goal 6.
Improvement of social protection of military service members, implementation of housing, medical support and other programs. The morale and psychological readiness of the army will not be at a high level absent adequate social protection for service members, beginning with decent monetary allowance, rest and leisure conditions, and ending with healthcare. Of course, as it was already mentioned, the fact of having a large army relative to the state's economic potential in itself imposes financial constraints, but by making reasonable decisions, curbing "waste leakage", and more optimally allocating functions, we will do everything we can in the MoD to improve the living conditions of a service member and his or her spiritual contentment.
The primary objective of the Ministry of Defence is implementation of comprehensive social welfare programs for active duty and retired military and civilian personnel, disabled militaries, family members of soldiers killed and missing in action, as well as transforming the system of medical support for military service members, beginning with administration of first-aid, through casualty evacuation from the battlefield, all the way to treatment in hospitals. In this context, the special-purpose program of state support for long-term mortgage lending entitled "Affordable Housing to a Service member" is being finalized, and will provide a breakthrough solution to this major issue of social protection of all militaries (without age restrictions). And, of course, we don’t lose sight of the need to scale up monetary allowance of the personnel of defence sector, and this issue will be solved concurrently with the economic growth in Armenia and increase in the state budget receipts.
Priority Goal 7.
Enhancing the capabilities of existing international integration and collective security processes and procedures. The endstate of this goal is to develop political-military alliances and partnerships, while maintaining a balance in forging relationships based on the national interests of the Republic of Armenia and existing political-military commonalities.
We are not in a political vacuum with our adversary, but are surrounded by a community of countries and international organizations with diverse and sometimes even contrary agendas. The success of formation of foreign security positions in favour of Armenia’s interests, support to our defence reforms and credibility of Armenian Army are largely dependent upon how well we navigate through this vortex of international relations.
Our primary objective is to take steps to strengthen allied and partner relationships in defence sector, diversify substantive and geographical pattern of those relations, as well as to channel international cooperation into development of components of multilateral and bilateral political-military relations, military and military-technical cooperation, and enhanced interoperability.
This was the vision of the Minister of Defence on the implementation of goals, priorities and objectives set forth for the Defence System and the Armed Forces in the Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia. I am confident that the staff of the Defense System will find even more effective practical solutions within the purview of their professional expertise and skills that, when integrated into the guidance of the Army leadership, will ensure honourable fulfilment of our common mission. And the aspiration for achieving perfection in honesty, fairness, dedication and cohesion in fulfilling this mission, has no alternative.
Minister of Defence of the Republic of Armenia