The Central Asian Battalion (CENTRASBAT) series of exercises is designed to improve interaction with the Central Asian States by focusing on peacekeeping/humanitarian operations and exercising command, control, and logistics within a multinational framework. CENTRASBAT is conducted in Kazakhistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Other participating nations include Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, United Kingdom, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Mongolia.
This exercise was initially sponsored by US Atlantic Command, with sponsorship shifting to US Central Command following the modification of the Unified Command Plan to include Central Asia in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.
CENTRASBAT focuses on strengthening military-to-military relationships and regional security between Central Asian and other regional militaries. Military units from the national peacekeeping battalions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as a U.S. battalion, used this exercise as a tool to increase interoperability and improve the participating forces' abilities to conduct basic peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. The exercises have a practical significance for NATO countries, which have on repeated occasions since 1997 been able to test in practice their theoretical calculations on getting their units to the Central Asian region by air, and to study and work out in practice methods of making assault landings in various sectors, taking into account the local conditions and the terrain and, have been able to make adjustments to training.
The Central Asian Economic Community (CAEC) of Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan decided to address military and security cooperation in a joint Council of Defense Ministers, which was formed in December 1995. The council created the tripartite Central Asian Battalion [CENTRASBAT] in 1996. This peacekeeping battalion was intended to coordinate military exercises, air defence and defence supplies. Tajikistan joined the CAEC in 1998, but the lack of economic sources and political will rendered Centrasbat little more than a showpiece military formation.
In August of 1997, the Central Asian Nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as part of an eight nation joint excercise that was conducted in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in September 1997. The "Centrasbat" exercise grew from a request by the three Central Asian nations who had formed a joint security organization for the purpose of training readying themselves to participate in multi-national peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. On September 14, 1997, 500 US and 40 Central Asian troops boarded planes at North carolina's Pope Air Force Base for the 18 hour 7,700 mile non-stop flight to Uzbekistan. This was the longest distance airborne operation in history. The flight culminated with the largest airborne operation since WWII with a total of 620 troops partcipating. The incoming troops acted on a scenario of supporting the one-year-old Central Asia Battalion against "dissident elements." But the main purpose was to teach the three countries how to work with other nations' militaries, including standard North Atlantic Treaty Organization commands.
US joint forces returned to Central Asia Sept. 20, for CENTRAZBAT 98, the second in a series of annual, multi-national, military exercises conducted in the spirit of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, under the direction of U.S. Atlantic Command, took part in peacekeeping training with the Central Asian Peacekeeping Battalion (CENTRASBAT) and forces from four other nations. The CENTRASBAT is made up of forces from Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The other participating nations are Turkey, Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Approximately 259 U.S. personnel will take part in CENTRAZBAT 98, along with 272 from the CENTRASBAT, and about 200 from the other four participating nations. The first section of the CENTRASBAT 98 maneuver, which included participation by the US, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia, was held between 22 and 23 September 1998 in Circik and the second section was held in Os city in Kyrgyzstan between 26 and 28 September. A part from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a total of 55 observers will participate in the maneuver which will be held within the framework of the NATO'S Partnership for Peace program.
The CENTRASBAT peacekeeping/humanitarian exercise conducted in the spirit of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, came to the United States for the first time 13-19 May 1999, when US Central Command hosted a training seminar at Tampa. The primary participants of the seminar included Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United States. Observer countries included Turkmenistan, France, United Kingdom, Mongolia and Germany. CENTRASBAT '97 and '98 were field exercises conducted in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan respectively. The CENTRASBAT '99 annual multi-national exercise was conducted in a seminar format for the first time. It provided NATO and Partner Nations the opportunity to freely exchange ideas, methods and techniques used in peacekeeping/humanitarian operations. This training also fostered cohesiveness between participating nations and lays the groundwork for future real-world peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
American servicemen and women joined forces with Central Asian militaries 10-18 September 2000 for an "in the Spirit of Partnership for Peace" exercise called CENTRASBAT 2000 (Central Asian Peacekeeping Battalion). In the exercise's fourth year, personnel from U.S. Central Command, FL, 82nd Airborne Division from Ft. Bragg, NC, and 5th Special Forces Group, Ft. Campbell, KY., converged in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance field exercise.
Other participants in the exercise included platoon- and company-size contingents from the countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Mongolia, Russia and the United Kingdom. France and the Ukraine attended the event as observers. Although Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan earlier stated they would not be taking part in the Centrasbat-2000 exercises because of the military situation in the south of the two countries, Kyrgyz and Uzbek units did take part in the exercises. When fighting with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan militant detachments began in the republics' southern areas, Tashkent and Bishkek issued statements saying that they would not be taking part in the exercises. According to official explanations, this was prompted by their unwillingness to distract their military's attention from the then ongoing battles on their territories.
CENTRASBAT 2000 consisted of four phases: deployment and opening ceremonies, unit planning process and preparations, a tactical field training exercise, and the closing ceremonies and redeployment. The units formed a combined exercise coalition of four battalions under the control of a combined brigade. The culmination of CENTASBAT 2000 was Phase III: the tactical FTX, which lasted nearly three days and covered many aspects typical of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions such as refugee control, checkpoint outposts, patrolling and security operations.
More than 225 paratroopers from three countries jumped into a landing zone approximately 50 miles north of Almaty Sept. 10, kicking off the CENTRASBAT 2000 exercise. One hundred fifty-five soldiers from the 82nd Airborne unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., joined 77 paratroopers from the Republic of Kazakhstan and Turkey in three separate jumps before a group of spectators.
In 2001, the CENTRASBAT exercise was a Headquarters Command Post Exercise (CPX) and was conducted in Ramstein, Germany. The field training exercise resumed in 2002.
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