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Kazakhstan - Army

The Kazak army totals approximately 46,800 troops spread across four military districts. Numerically the Kazakh armed force was about 70,000 men by 2002, and there was no shortage of slightly dated military hardware. What the Kazakh Armed Forces lack is full democratic control, modern educational and training methods and, as always, funds.

At independence Kazakhstan had no army because defense and security needs always had been met by the Soviet army. Initially the Kazak president (Nursultan Nazarbayev), unlike many of his fellow new presidents, argued that his country should function without an independent army, assuming that collective security needs would continue to be met by armies under CIS command. Even when the Russian military establishment changed its oath of service to refer solely to Russia rather than to the CIS, Nazarbayev continued the policy of drafting youth into the CIS forces rather than those of the republic. Even though the republic's strategic thinkers saw Kazakhstan as the intersection of three potential military theaters -- Europe, the Near East, and the Far East -- in the first years of independence, the republic was thought to require only a national guard of no more than 2,500 men, whose duties were envisioned as primarily ceremonial.

Kazakstan was the last Central Asian state to give up the idea of a unified command. The Kazakh military was formed soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, from units of the 40th Army in the Soviet Turkestan Military District. When Russia transformed the troops on its soil into a Russian army in the spring of 1992, Kazakhstan followed suit by nationalizing the former Soviet Fortieth Army, which remained in Kazakhstan, creating the formal basis for a Kazakhstani national defense force.

On May 8, 1992, one day after Boris Yeltsin announced the creation of a Russian army, President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared himself Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Kazakstan. His initial moves were more limited. He established a National Security Council and the State Committee of Defence1 (a de facto Defense Ministry); restructured the Soviet internal security apparatus; created a Republican Guard to protect the President and senior officials; and transferred control of the Internal Troops (responsible for maintenance of public order and suppression of public disturbances) to republican control. A Presidential decree of April 16, 1992, transferred the bulk of the ex-Soviet 40th Army to the jurisdiction of the Kazakstani government, which redesignated it the "All-Arms Army."

A large quantity of Soviet equipment was left in Kazakhstan, comprising some 2,680 tanks, 2,400 ACVs and 6,900 artillery pieces. Most of this equipment has become unserviceable, and Kazakhstan’s MoD planned to destroy or recycle it. Basic Russian-made armament is old but serviceable, though in some cases not adequate for the tasks given to the armed forces.The Kazakh military has mainly Russian arms and military equipment, including up to 1,000 main battle tanks (T-80, T-72 and T-62), some 2,500 infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1 and BMP-2) and armored personnel carriers (BTR-80A and BTR-82A), around 200 self-propelled artillery systems, and at least 150 Uragan and Grad multiple rocket launchers. By nother estimate, in 2009 the basic armament of the Ground Forces consisted of 884 main battle tanks (T-72s and T-62s), 2,090 armored combat vehicles (ACVs) and approximately 980 artillery pieces, all of which were serviceable. Some sources report that the army had more than 120 Russian manufactured helicopters (Mi-24, Mi-8 and Mi-26), while other sources deny the Land Forces had any aviation assets, reporting all aviation to be in the Air Defense Forces.

The state institution "Directorate of Commander-in-chief of Land Forces of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan" was created on grounds of the resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan #554 dated by April 20, 2009 and also order of Minister of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan #145 dated by April 20, 2009.

In 1996 the army included about 25,000 troops, organized into two motorized rifle divisions, one tank division, and one artillery brigade. Attached to that force were one multiple rocket launcher brigade, one motorized rifle regiment, and one air assault brigade. Overall army headquarters are at Semey, with division headquarters at Ayagöz, Sary Ozyk, Almaty, and Semey. President Nazarbayev’s Decree of March 2003 envisaged a transition from a division / regiment structure to a more flexible brigade structure, with the adoption of Western standards of training, greater professionalism, and strengthening logistics organizations.

After the President Nazarbayev approved independent Kazakhstan’s fourth military doctrine in October 2011, a detailed analysis was used as the basis for reviewing the conceptual approaches to further developing and training the Armed Forces. Most important in further transforming the Kazakh Army is to take into consideration the military threats which the military doctrine views as the chief ones over the mid-term. The Armed Forces’ top priority task is to be prepared to carry out combat missions in low- and medium-intensity conflicts. It is precisely to deal with such conflicts that Kazakhstan needs a small, highly mobile, and professional army with much better command and control systems, communications and information support.

Kazakhstan’smilitary doctrine has continued to shape the Kazakh Armed Forces from a post-Soviet mass mobilization army focused on large scale warfare to a smaller brigade-based army more capable of handling the low intensity conflicts and military operations that Kazakhstan will likely face. Efforts to reform and modernize the Kazakh Armed Forces include abolishing Soviet division/regimental formations and adopting a brigade-based structure, as well as developing “Air Mobile Forces” brigades, which have designated units assigned to potentially augment UN peacekeeping (35th Air Assault Brigade) and Collective Security Treaty Organization peacekeeping support operations. Kazakhstan has also taken a keen interest in enlisted professionalization and has established a three-year NCO academy to develop “officera ssistants” to increase small unit discipline and combat effectiveness.

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Page last modified: 10-03-2013 19:18:17 ZULU