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Kyrgyzstan - Army

In the early days of independence, Kyrgyzstani authorities spoke of doing without an army entirely. That idea since has been replaced by plans to create a standing conscripted army of about 5,000 troops, with reserves of two to three times that number. Kyrgyzstan made its first moves toward a national military force in September 1991, immediately after declaring independence, by drawing up plans to create a national guard. However, events overtook that plan, which was never realized.

Bishkek originally made little effort to establish a national force, giving strong support to the CIS unified command movement and relying on Russia's 40th Army (headquartered in Almaty) to fund ex-Soviet forces in Kyrgyzstan. During the early months Kyrgyzstan continued to call up conscripts to serve in the CIS unified forces; a March 1992 agreement with Russia allowed approximately 70 percent of Kyrgyz recruits to serve "in the territory ofother republics." The law "On Military Service" stated that 1992 draftees would serve only in "strategic forces" deployed in Russia; service outside Kyrgysstan would be on a contractual basis.

In the early months of independence, President Akayev was an avid supporter of a proposed "unified army" of the CIS, which would replace the former Soviet army. Those plans collapsed when Russia announced that it would not finance CIS troops. In April 1992, Kyrgyzstan formed a State Committee for Defense Affairs, and in June the republic took control of all troops on its soil (meaning remaining units of the former Soviet army). At that time, about 15,000 former Soviet soldiers of unknown ethnic identity remained in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan eventually created national forces, but not of its own free will. According to one official, "in May 1992 Akayev received a telegram from [CIS Defense Minister] Shaposhnikov telling him to take control of the forces on Kyrgyz territory because the center would no longer pay for them." On May 29,1992, President Akayev issued a decree setting up the Kyrgyz Army, using a Soviet motorized rifle division (MRD) stationed in Osh as the core. Only a year later, on August 18, 1993, did Bishkek announce the creation of a Kyrgyz General Staff.

In 1992 a Kyrgyzstani command took over the republic's directorate of the KGB's Central Asian Border Troops District, which had about 2,000 mostly Russian troops. In late 1992, alarmed by the possibility of penetration of the border from Tajikistan and China, Russia established a joint Kyrgyzstani-Russian Border Troop Command, under Russian command. However, that force has been plagued with desertions by Kyrgyz troops, about 200 of whom fled to China in 1993. Border troop bases are located at Isfara, Naryn, and Karakol.

The question of who would command Kyrgyzstani ground force troops has been very troublesome. Russian officers continued leaving Kyrgyzstan through 1993 because of low pay and poor living conditions, and in 1994 Moscow was officially encouraging this exodus. To stem the out-migration, agreements signed in 1994 by Bishkek and Moscow obligate Kyrgyzstan to pay housing and relocation costs for Russian officers who agree to serve in the Kyrgyzstani army until 1999.

In 1994 Kyrgyzstan agreed to permit border troops of the Russian Army to assume the task of guarding Kyrgyzstan's border with China. This agreement followed Russia's complaints that continuing desertions by Kyrgyzstani border troops were leaving the former Soviet border--which Russia continues to argue is its proper border--essentially unguarded. Akayev has periodically pushed for even more Russian military presence in the republic, hinting broadly that if Russia is not interested in resuming control of the Soviet airbases in the republic, perhaps other powers, such as the United States or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, might be; however, the fact that Kyrgyzstan in early 1995 gave the last remnants of its Soviet-era air fleet to Uzbekistan in a debt swap suggests that neither Moscow nor Tashkent has taken such offers seriously.

motorized rifle brigade
motorized rifle brigade
mountain motorized rifle brigade
special forces brigade
artillery brigade
air defense brigade
Formally, the army is under the command of the president, in his role as commander in chief; the National Security Council is the chief agency of defense policy. Established in 1994, the National Security Council has seven members, not including the president, who is the chairman: the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the state secretary, the minister of internal affairs, the minister of defense, the chairman of the State Committee for National Security (successor to the Kyrgyzstan branch of the Committee for State Security--KGB), and the commander of the National Guard. The president appoints and dismisses senior military officers. President Akayev also has followed the formulation of defense policy quite closely. The Ministry of Defense has operational command of military units; General Myrzakan Subanov has been minister of defense since the agency was founded in 1992. The Ministry of Defense and the National Security Council are advised by the Center for Analysis, a research institution established in 1992.

The chief of the General Staff, the second-ranking officer in the armed forces, is responsible for coordinating the National Security Council, the State Committee for National Security, the border troops, and civil defense. Since 1993 that position has been occupied by General Feliks Kulov, a Kyrgyz. The Gen-eral Staff, modeled after the Russian structure, includes the commanders of the National Guard, the ground forces, the air and air defense forces, and the internal forces.

In 1996 the Kyrgyzstani ground forces included 7,000 troops, which comprise one motorized rifle division with armor and artillery capability. Sapper and signals regiments are attached, as is a mountain infantry brigade. Headquarters is at Bishkek. Plans called for the ground forces to be restructured in 1995 into a corps of two motorized rifle brigades and for an airborne battalion to be added. In 1994 about 30 percent of the officer corps was Russian; the commander was General Valentin Luk'yanov, a Ukrainian.

By 2012 the Army had a strength of 8,500 troops. With a strength of 1,000 troops, the National Guard was disbanded in 2010 and reportedly folded into the Ministry of Defense. It may have included three special operations units.

In December 1995, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan formed a multinational peacekeeping battalion, CENTRASBAT or Central Asian Peacekeeping Battalion. The concept and structure of CENTRASBAT was based on the BALTBAT (Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion) model. CENTRASBAT originated in 1996, and was established to form a joint battalion of soldiers from the former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan to serve as a key component in developing a regional security and cooperation structure. CENTRASBAT 2000 tested US and Central Asian unit's combat readiness and ability to conduct peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, as well as develop and build cooperative relationships between the respective states and assist in laying the foundation for future peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, 13 September 2000. CENTRASBAT itself disbanded in 2000, although the battalions name was used for one exercise in that year. The exercises were renamed Regional Cooperation and continued for several years.

To protect its external borders, Kyrgyzstan has been forced to rely upon "foreign forces." At independence the "Kyrgyz Border Guards Command" (subordinate to the Ministry of Defense and commanded by a Kyrgyz general officer) administratively replaced the Kirghiz (Kyrgyz) Directorate of the former Central Asian Border Troops district of the USSR KGB. In 1992, when Almaty took over the ex-Soviet Eastern Border District, Bishkek found the Border Troops on its territory were without leadership, support, or even medical supplies. Bishkek appealed to Moscow for help and under an October 1992 bilateral treaty, Russia assumed responsibility for guarding Kyrgyzstan's borders.

Severe financial constraints forced massive reductions in the size of Kyrgyzstan's armed forces, yet it was unable to man even those positions with ethnic Kyrgyz. Kyrgyzstan relied upon foreign officers not as a management tool, but because it is incapable of manning its small armed forces domestically. The shift toward a more equal balance between Slavs and Kyrgyz is not part of a systematic program of officer development, but reflects migration of ethnic Russians out of the republic.

A "joint" Kyrgyz-Russian Border Troops Command was established, commanded by a Russian. The Group of Russian Border Guards in Kyrgyzstan (GRBGK) serves Kyrgysstan, but it is subordinate to the Russian Federal Border Guard Service and Moscow finances 80 percent ofits budget. Under recruitment, by the late 1990s more than 60 percent of the enlisted inductees into the "Russian" border forces are now ethnic Kyrgyz. Just as the Roman legions along the Rhine became increasingly Teutonic, so the GRBGK has become increasingly Central Asian.

Kyrgyzstan joined PfP in 1994 and the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process (PARP). in 2007, the latter includes participation of units in PfP exercises. These units include an infantry company, a National Guard platoon for counter- terrorism and peacekeeping training, and a border guards company. Kyrgyzstan is also involved with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC).

The U.S. Army National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) was established in 1991. The Kyrgyzstan Montana partnership started in 1996; cooperation has included a visit by then President Askar Akayev to Montana in 2003, training exercises (military, medical, search and rescue, and emergency response), and work with Kyrgyzstans Drug Control Agency. The Alaska and Nebraska National Guard have also been involved with some of these efforts.

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