Nagorno-Karabakh, 2020. As tensions rose between Armenia and Azerbaijan, small clashes soon turned into combat. Instead of a traditional battlefield ruled by main battle tanks and artillery, armed drones turned out to be game-changers. Using Turkish-made drones, Azerbaijani forces destroyed numerous enemy tanks and armored vehicles, leaving the tactically dislocated Armenian side unable to respond. Military analysts around the world took notice: New technology and capabilities could impact outcomes on the modern battlefield.

When the integration of new technology is discussed, however, the perspective of smaller states is often absent. For us, this is personal: One of us is the head of Swedish joint operations and the other is an infantry squad leader in the Swedish Army Reserves. These experiences and hard questions drove us to write a book together: Strategic Choices: The Future of Swedish Security. In this book, we explore how smaller states, out of scarcity of resources, often have to find creative and innovative ways to adopt technology to overcome, or at least offset, the advantages a well-resourced opponent might have. While the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan were about evenly matched in turns of numbers, the way both sides used different concepts and platforms offers important lessons for smaller states facing bigger enemies. Smaller states can identify asymmetric advantages that could create military problems for larger adversaries through well-thought-out concepts that combine capability development, doctrines, education, exercises, and — of course — operations. In general, smaller states don’t have access to the full spectrum of the latest technologies. In order to maximize operational effect against a bigger adversary, the use of military capabilities based on new technologies should be accompanied by smart tactics and methods.

The article is published in War on  the Rocks, a platform for analysis, commentary, debate and multimedia content on foreign policy and national security issues through a realist lens. Read the rest of the article: https://warontherocks.com/2021/12/are-new-and-emerging-technologies-game-changers-for-smaller-powers/

Foto: U S Air Force photo by Carly Kavish