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US, Kazakhstan governments celebrate opening of canine training center to combat narcotics trafficking

September 4, 2012

By Joan Kibler

WINCHESTER, Va. - Representatives from the U.S. and Kazakhstan governments celebrated the opening of the regional canine training center at the Border Guard Academy in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Aug. 11.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District constructed the canine training center under the Department of Defense's counternarcotics program.

"The program is focused on increasing the capabilities of recipient governments in counternarcotics operations, supporting those countries' counterdrug strategies, and promoting interagency cooperation," said U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Kenneth Fairfax.

"Over the last year, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with Bozdemir Construction company, has been in the process of building this new training facility for the Border Guard Academy's Canine and Cavalry Training Department," Fairfax said during the ceremony.

"The Corps, the contractor, the Embassy and the Border Guard Academy staffs worked diligently to bring this facility to fruition," he continued. "This facility was built in accordance with Kazakhstan construction norms and standards and will serve the Border Guard Service and its canine professionals for many years into the future. We look forward to seeing many cadets use this training facility to gain knowledge necessary to secure Kazakhstan's borders."

Representatives from the Border Guard Academy, the U.S. Embassy and counternarcotics staff, U.S. Central Command, and the Middle East District attended the ceremony.

The canine training center is one of three border facility projects being constructed under a $4.9 million contract with Bozdemir Construction. The remaining sites are scheduled to be turned over this fall.

The Middle East District is carrying out projects at multiple locations in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The projects consist of border crossing facilities or training complexes to help the host nations carry out their efforts to counter trafficking in narcotics, according to Robert Strom, program manager, Middle East District.

"Our projects are providing an immediate benefit to the host nations and our country by providing defensive capabilities," said Dr. Khaled Masoud, area engineer, Middle East District. "We have many stakeholders interested in the success of these projects."

The district works closely with host nation customs offices, border patrol agencies and canine training centers, in addition to the staffs of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Central Command.

The Defense Department's far-reaching counternarcotics strategy calls for government agencies to build the capacity of Central Asia partners to secure their borders and prevent illicit drugs from entering - and ill-gotten proceeds from exiting - their region. At the next level, combatant commands develop their counternarcotics strategic plans in line with the DOD policy.

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