Azerbaijani Land Forces
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|Azerbaijan Land Forces
Azərbaycan Silahlı Qüvvələri Quru Qoşunları
Flag of Azerbaijan Land Forces
|Active||c.1992 - present|
|Size||IISS 2013: 56,850|
|Part of||Azerbaijan Armed Forces|
|Samad bey Mehmandarov|
The Azerbaijani Land Forces (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Silahlı Qüvvələri Quru Qoşunları) are the land force component of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan has been trying to further develop its armed forces into a professional, well trained, and mobile military. Based on 2013 statistics the country has about 56,850 ground force troops, with additional paramilitary forces of 15,000. In addition, there are 300,000 former service personnel who have had military service in the last fifteen years.
Reportedly, in wartime, the Army proper could call upon the support of the National Guard, the Internal Troops of Azerbaijan, and the State Border Service. The exact wartime command structure remains unclear.
During the Soviet period, Azerbaijan was part of the Transcaucasus Military District, whose forces in the republic were commanded by the 4th Army. The 4th Army consisted of three motor rifle divisions (the 23rd Motor Rifle Division (MRD) at Ganja, the 60th Motor Rifle Division at Lankaran, and the 295th Motor Rifle Division in Baku) and army troops that included missile and air defense brigades and artillery and rocket regiments. Azerbaijan also hosted the 49th Arsenal of the Main Agency of Missiles and Artillery of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, which contained over 7,000 train-car loads of ammunition to the excess of one billion units. In addition, the 75th Motor Rifle Division, part of the 7th Guards Army, was in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.
In summer 1992, the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, following a resolution by the Azerbaijani president on the privatization of units and formations in Azerbaijani territory, forwarded an ultimatum demanding control over vehicles and armaments of the 135th and 139th motorized rifle regiments of the 295th Motor Rifle Division. The transfer of the property of the 4th Army (except for over half the equipment of the 366th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment of the 23rd Division captured by Armenian armed formations in 1992 during the regiment's withdrawal from Stepanakert) and the 49th Arsenal was completed in 1992. Thus, by the end of 1992, the Azerbaijani Government received arms and military hardware sufficient for approximately three motorized rifle divisions with prescribed army units. The stores and equipment of the 75th Division were handed over to the Nakhichevan government. The former Division HQs may have contributed to the formation of corps headquarters.
Azerbaijan has also implemented a new organizational style in order to modernize its army. Over the last 15 years, Azerbaijan has been preparing its military for possible action against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. However Azerbaijan has continually stated that it is interested in a diplomatic and peaceful solution.
Azerbaijan has contracted with Turkey for troop training to strengthen its armed forces. This is necessary in view of deficiencies that Jane's World Armies said in 2004 included huge problems in training, equipping and motivating its soldiers; corruption in its ranks; and a highly politicised officer corps. The Soviet Army tradition of dedovshchina, institutionalised hazing, appears to be continuing in the armed forces as of 2008. The quality and readiness of much of the army's equipment, Jane's said, is also a problem, as a decade of poor maintenance and chronic shortages of spare parts means that many systems are not operational, or cannibalised for parts. Azerbaijan has the second highest military expenditure in CIS. Azerbaijan's defense spending is second only to Russia's within the Commonwealth of Independent States. 
Faced by Armenian forces apparently with some Russian support, the Azeri military was forced back out of Nagorno-Karabakh, and was significantly reorganised in the mid-1990s predominantly around brigades, though at least one division was reported as late as 2000. Manoeuvre formations have consistently stayed at a strength of around twenty brigades and regiments since 1995, though that has slowly risen recently. During the 1990s, these brigades may have included the 701st Motor Rifle Brigade (мсбр)(1st Army Corps), the 708th Motor Rifle Brigade (1st Army Corps), 130th Motor Rifle Brigade (1st Army Corps), 161 мсбр(2 АК), 709 мсбр Быв. 23 мсд, and the 112th Motor Rifle Brigade.
In 2002-4 the IISS Military Balance reported personnel strength falling while total manoeuvre formations increased by one. The Military Balance 2003-4 reported an army strength of 56,000, with four corps headquarters and twenty-three motor rifle brigades, compared to the previous year’s edition showing 62,000 personnel and twenty-two brigades. Artillery and anti-tank units include two brigades and a regiment. 1st Army Corps is headquartered at Yevlakh (Евлах) reportedly with six brigades in 1999. (Brinkster.net gave the corps 1, 3, 9, 10, 15, 17th Motor Rifle Brigades in 1999. The 2nd Army Corps at Pirəkəşkül had seven brigades attached in 1999 (Brinkster.net naming these brigades as the 2, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14, and 18th Motor Rifle Brigades), while 3rd Army Corps, also with six brigades attached, was headquartered at Shamkir/Shamkira (Шамкира). Brinkster.net named these formations as the 7, 11, 12, 16, 19, 20 Motor Rifle Brigades (1999). 4th Army Corps was in the isolated Nakhichevan enclave. It is a former motor rifle division with three motor rifle regiments (1999).
The IISS estimated in 2007 that the Azeri regular army was 56,840 strong, probably basing this figure on Conventional Forces in Europe treaty data. It attributes to the army five corps headquarters, 23 motor rifle brigades, one artillery brigade, one multiple rocket launcher brigade, and one anti-tank regiment. Of the five army corps, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Army Corps are concentrated against NK; part of 2nd Army Corps is deployed on the Azerbaijan-Iranian border; the 4th (Bakinskiy) Army Corps covers the capital and the coast and the 5th Army Corps is deployed in Nakhichevan.
Azerbaijani formations reportedly include motor rifle brigade at Гянджа/Gyandzha, motor rifle brigade at Hacı Zeynalabdin, мсбр Кусары/Kusar, мсбр Nakhichivan, мсбр Казах/Kazakh, мсбр Товуз/Tovuz, мсбр Бейлаган/Beilagan, мсбр Göytəpə, Jalilabad (Гейтепе), мсбр Джульфа/Dzhulfa, мсбр Кедабек/Kedabek, tank brigade Gyuzdek/Гюздек.
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NCOs and Enlisted
- The Military Balance 2013. London: Routledge for the IISS. 2013. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-85743-680-8.
- Azərbaycan Quru Qoşunları yaradıld (Azerbaijani)
- В Азербайджане созданы сухопутные войска (Russian)
- Vladimir Petrov, How South Caucasus was armed, Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (Moscow, Russia)
- Tehran IRNA, 9 January 1992, as transcribed in FBIS, Soviet Union Daily Report, 92-007, 10 January 1992, p. 53., via ref in 75 MRD note in 7th Guards Army article.
- Jane's World Armies Azerbaijan, as accessed October 2004
- "Infosud - Tribune des Droits Humains | www.infosud.org Journal en ligne offrant une information indépendante et pluraliste sur les droits de l'homme dans le monde". Humanrights-geneva.info. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
- "Azerbaijan has second highest military expenditure in CIS". News.Az. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- IISS (2012). The Military Balance 2012. London: Routledge for the IISS. pp. 92–93.
- C. W. Blandy Azerbaijan: Is War Over Nagornyy Karabakh a Realistic Option? Advanced Research and Assessment Group. Caucasus Series 08/17. — Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, 2008, p.12