The Republic of Atropia is vulnerable because of its natural resources and as a result of conflicts over its province of Lower Janga. Atropia possesses significant oil and gas reserves in both the northeast and the Caspian Sea. Further, the Trans-Caucasus petroleum (TC-P) pipeline, one of the most critical infrastructure components in the region, originates near its capital Baku. The abundance of these rich natural resources generates potential threats from external forces.
Limaria currently occupies Atropia’s Lower Janga province, an area fought over by Atropia and Limaria for 20 years. At present, over 9 percent of the Lower Jangan population belongs to the Limarian ethnic group. Refugees displaced from the Lower Janga dispute exceed more than one million people. An estimated 400,000 Atropian Limarians and 30,000 Lower Janga Limarians fled to Limaria and Donovia to avoid the conflict. An estimated 800,000 Atropians from Limaria or Lower Janga sought refuge in Atropia. Various other ethnic groups in Lower Janga also evacuated to refugee camps in Atropia and Ariana. All efforts to settle the dispute have failed. Ariana contains a large internal Atropian ethnic minority and disagrees with Atropia over the delineation of Caspian Sea oil and gas fields. Atropia, a majority Shia nation, resists Arianian-sponsored attempts to politicise Islam within Atropia.
Atropia is a neutral, Western-leaning oligarchy centred on the Ismailov family. While not a broadly democratic state, Atropia is secularised, and the population enjoys a high standard of living by regional standards due to oil revenue. Government repression is limited, although some degree of censorship exists. Corruption is extensive and creates a reformist desire in the population who, while accepting of the Ismailov family dominance, would like greater freedom of expression and less official corruption.
Like most countries in the region, Atropia possesses a long history of regional irregular and regular warfare that shapes the country’s military attitudes. Donovia regional influence and over a century of ever-changing political boundaries never coincided satisfactorily with Atropia’s ethnic groupings. These unresolved issues contributed to the Atropian military’s current state. Atropia contains a majority Muslim population that remains less radical than the religious fundamentalists found in Ariana, but the possibility remains for Islamist attitudes to gain noteworthy influence over the military, with the potential for increased radicalisation.
Like Ariana Atropia faces geopolitical difficulties in exporting its oil and natural gas. Bordered by adversaries, the Atropians must rely on tenuous routes to export their resources. Like all nations of the Caucasus Atropia has relatively high inefficiency due to corruption, government involvement in the economy, and/or lack of export industry development.
Atropia’s oil and natural gas resources generate most of the country’s wealth. Since it began to actively exploit oil reserves in the late 1990s through international oil consortiums, the country has experienced strong GDP growth. Atropia launched a deliberate program to develop its own natural resources. This hydrocarbon-specific economic policy continues to bring big dividends for Atropia’s economy. Additionally, it bolstered Atropia’s quest to become a regional player and to secure its sovereignty and integrity from encroachment by Donovia and Ariana. The growth in its economy also benefitted Atropia’s security as it became an integral player in the world energy sector, especially in
supplying Western Europe. President Salam Ismailov, son of the previous President Hazi Ismailov, sits at the top of the pyramidal patronage system that flows through all aspects of Atropian bureaucracy and economy. Salam Ismailov directs the state oil and natural gas systems, which are the two biggest revenue producers in the Atropian economy. Despite all the hydrocarbon revenue in the country the economy is not balanced between sectors, with large portions of the population working in small service or agriculture industries. Atropia also lacks a significant middle class.
Atropia is slowly developing its public broadcast and INFOWAR capabilities, both of which are driven by oil revenue. TV and the Internet are the most powerful media, while Atropian INFOWAR capability focuses on potential threats from Ariana and Limaria. Atropian INFOWAR assets are generally tier two and three, though increasingly tier one elements are being purchased from abroad and integrated into the Atropian military and government.
Atropia finds itself at a crossroads between a modern future and an agrarian past in its infrastructure. A dichotomy exists where cities possess most modern society amenities, but many rural people continue to live as their ancestors did centuries ago. About 25 percent (2.46 million) of the Atropian populace live in the capital city, Baku, or its immediate suburbs. Except for Ganja (307,500) and Sumgayit (268,800), no other Atropian cities exceed 100,000 people. Larger Atropian cities include an old inner city surrounded by more modern construction.
Rural village dwellers live in homes built similar to those of their ancestors. Industrial development utilises modern construction and methods, especially in the oil industry. Atropian industry uses factories and methods that continue to pollute and damage the environment. The government does little to regulate the industrial sector, and businesses continue to operate outdated equipment that harms the environment. Military operations in rural areas will require more logistical support due to a lack of modern infrastructure but will face fewer problems due to civilians on the battlefield (COB). Military operations in urban areas will allow for greater use of host nation support but will rouse additional problems due to heath issues caused by pollution, more COBs, and humanitarian support needs for the higher number of civilians.
The Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountain ranges dominate Atropia’s topography and extend beyond its borders. Atropia occupies a total land area of 31,848 square miles. The country possesses two geographic regions: the mountain ranges and the vast flatlands (sometimes referred to as the Kura-Aras lowland).
A dam on the Kura River in the north-western part of the country creates Atropia’s largest body of water, the Mingachevir Reservoir, at 233.5 square miles. The reservoir possesses a flow capacity of 555 billion cubic feet per year and is used for flood control, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. The Kura is the longest river in Atropia and in the Caucasus region. It flows 932 miles to the Caspian Sea, with 559 miles in Atropia. The Kura plays an important role in maritime transportation as Atropia’s only navigable river, with only the lower 310 miles passable for ships. The Kura is rated at more than 2.5 ounces of suspended particle per cubic foot of river water, making it one of the most turbid (cloudy) rivers in the world. The Aras River also flows along the southern border with Ariana to form Atropia’s second-longest river.
Heavily populated areas such as Baku, Ganja, Sumgayit, Shirvan, and Mingachevir will slow down troop movement and hinder operations because of their construction patterns. The close construction provides numerous hideouts and concealed movement opportunities for fighters. Underground passageways, rooftops, and narrow streets will allow fighters to move easily from building to building. On the other hand, houses in rural villages remain relatively small and dispersed, and their low population density will favour military activities. Roads throughout Atropia exhibit poor condition, lighting, and signage that will further complicate vehicular traffic. Inadequate maintenance of those roads and bridges leads to poor trafficability and could increase vehicle maintenance requirements.
The central lowlands offer the best opportunity for military travel in Atropia as the rolling hills and flat plains in the Kura-Aras lowland will expedite the travel of armoured or mechanized forces. The defender will use the Kura-Aras lowland terrain to defend his avenues of approach. This lowland terrain will offer adequate cover and concealment to both the offense and the defence.
Atropia’s mountainous regions serve as perfect hideouts for fighters and facilitate smuggling. The mountainous terrain will force mechanized or armoured forces to slow their movements or find alternate routes to conduct missions. The rugged terrain will also pose an obstacle to dismounted infantry forces. The Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountain ranges will make movement across the mountainous terrain difficult and suitable for enemy ambushes. In winter, heavy snowfalls and frost may close some mountain passes for three to six months and force planners to find longer alternate routes. Unpredictable mud volcanoes west of Sangacal (southwest of Baku) and northeast of Baku will negatively influence military missions in those areas.
The Caucasus countries, for the most part, do not believe in the sensitivity of time, and do not view punctuality or the importance of time as the US and most other Western countries do. Most of the people in the region do not view time as a resource and do not feel any compulsion to effectively manage their time. The people in the Caucasus region do not make the connection between effective use of their time and production. This lack of time consciousness will likely frustrate US soldiers as they work with their allies, but it will also give the US a battlefield advantage against its enemies.