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Ministry of Defense

The Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces is the President of the Kyrgyz Republic. It administers the armed forces, appoints and replaces the high command. The central body of State administration of the armed forces was the Ministry of defence. Its main headquarters is the main body of the operational management of the armed forces of the Kyrgyz Republic. The Ministry of defence was responsible for the condition of all the armed forces and their subsequent development, ability to resist in case of military danger to the State. The Supreme command of the armed forces is the leadership of the Ministry of defence, headed by the Minister of defence of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The first step towards the creation of the armed forces was the Decree of the President of Republic Kyrghyzstan from January 13, 1992, the formation of the State Committee of Republic Kyrghyzstan on Affairs of Defense, headed by General-major Umetaliev Dzhanybek Asanbekovich. And on May 29, 1992, the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan "on the capture (acceptance) under the jurisdiction of the military connections, units and institutions of the former Soviet Union stationed on the territory of Kyrgyzstan," began the construction of the armed forces as the fundamental basis of the national security of the State. December 17, 1993, Decree of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic State Committee for defense of the Republic was transformed into the Ministry of defence of the Kirghiz Republic. Minister of Defence appointed General-major Myrzakan Usurkanovich U.subanov. In August 1999, by Decree of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Minister of Defence appointed General-major Topoev Esen Tolenovich.

With the Border Guards defending the borders, Ministry of Interior Forces keeping internal order and the State Security Service protecting government officers and offices, what is the Ministry of Defense doing? Critics say "Eating money." In early 2010 the Ministry of Defense was abolished, and all Defense functions, including the Border Guards, would be placed under a Military Council. The President of the Council will play a role analogous to the Minister of Defense, and in fact the position would be filled by the current Minister of Defense, Bakytbek Kaliyev. The President of the Council will not be Commander-in-Chief, however -- that role would be retained by President Bakiyev.

There are benefits to organizing to international standards. While a more professional military would certainly be a boon and might be less expensive as well, there are advantages to structuring the military under a Ministry of Defense. Perhaps an alternative would be to move all military-type forces into a single structure under a revamped Ministry of Defense, eliminating those which are duplicative or unnecessary. For the US, the ability to provide military assistance to units which are not part of the Ministry of Defense is limited. The Ministry of Defense wanted to develop further its cooperation with the U.S., including equipping Kyrgyz forces, military education, and training with special operations forces.

In late 2007, the parliament passed five new laws regarding the structure and functions of the armed forces. The Law on Armed Forces defines the number and composition of the armed forces and authorizes the use of the armed forces in emergency situations. A second law, Law on Military Service/Military Obligation defines the gradual transition to a professional NCO corps. There are also laws authorizing the creation of a peacekeeping unit, on the licensing of military equipment and the transit of military goods through the Kyrgyz Republic.

President Bakiyev shuffled personnel in several key positions, including at the Ministry of Defense, following the 20 May 2008 forced early retirement of First Deputy Minister of Defense Oruzbayev. Lt. Gen. Ismail Isakov was appointed Secretary of the Security Council. Isakov had been Minister of Defense from March 25, 2005 until his appointment to the Security Council. Lt. Gen. Tokon Mamytov, who had been Security Council Secretary since April 2007, was named "President's State Advisor." Gen. Maj. Bakytbek Kalyev was appointed Minister of Defense. Kaylev had served as Chief of the State Guard Service from 2006 until his appointment as minister.

Upon taking office in 2008, Minister of Defense Kalyev conducted a top down review of the armed forces which resulted in a reorganization of the structure of the Ministry of Defense to focus on what the Kyrgyz believe to be the main threat to their security- the ungoverned spaces in the south of the country. The new force structure planned for positioning up to five mountain rifle battalions and a Special Forces company in the southern Osh and Batken Oblasts, and the Kyrgyz asked for U.S. assistance to build barracks in the south.

Isakov was one of the people who helped bring President Bakiyev to power, and he enjoyed a very close relationship with Bakiyev. On 31 December 2008, the Prosecutor General's office opened a criminal case against former defense minister Ismail Isakov, who had recently resigned his position as Secretary of the State Security Council and moved to the opposition, for misuse of government funds, negligence regarding government property, and providing his son with an official apartment.

Ismail Isakov's problems began after he resigned as Secretary of the Security Council and told President Bakiyev that there were problems in the President's entourage and with the country's domestic and foreign policy. Following his resignation, Isakov joined the political opposition and ran for President in the July 2009 election.

By late 2009 one high profile trial of former Minister of Defense Ismail Isakov, accused of fairly petty misuse of government resources. The trial appeared to be motivated by political considerations, though General Isakov had abused his power while at the Ministry of Defense. On 11 January 2010, the Bishkek Garrison Military Court sentenced former Minister of Defense, Presidential candidate, and political insider, Ismail Isakov, to eight years in prison at a maximum security prison. Isakov was convicted of corruption, including illegally transferring to his son an apartment that belonged to the Ministry of Defense. Isakov publicly stated that his arrest was politically motivated.

Opposition members have said to us that while some of the specific charges against Isakov were likely true, they were also petty and did not justify a prison term. However, Isakov's long prison sentence is not surprising as he represented perhaps the strongest rival to President Bakiyev. Many observers believe that Isakov, as Defense Minister, was one of the least corrupt members of the Bakiyev government. In addition, Isakov's image, that of a strong military leader, and his charisma could have posed a threat to President Bakiyev. Ismail Isakov commanded troops during the 1999-2000 extremist incursions into Batken Province.

Opposition leaders freed Isakov from prison after Bakiev fled the capital following violent clashes between security forces and antigovernment protesters on 07 April 2010. Isakov's government awards and military insignia -- including the rank of general -- that were stripped from him by the military court in January were returned to him. Isakov was the acting defense minister in the self-declared interim government. In July 2010 Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov officially resigned in order to be eligible for parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2010.

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