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Tajikistan - Army

Tajikistan was the only Central Asian country to inherit practically no equipment from the Soviet Army. Unlike the other former Soviet states of Central Asia, Tajikistan did not form armed forces based upon former Soviet units on its territory. Instead, the Russian Ministry of Defense took control of the Dushanbe-based 201st Motor Rifle Division.

It was difficult to discuss ethnicity within Tajikistan's military in the 1990s, because indigenous forces were almost nonexistent. Tajikistan's new armed forces failed to defend the regime, and as a consequence the country was wracked with civil war and cross border incursions. Failure to produce viable armed forces resulted in a security policy totally dependent upon the willingness of other states to accept responsibility for Tajikistan and to expend men, money, and materiel to prop it up. The continued existence of the Rahmon regime depended upon military support from the Russian Federation and fellow Central Asian CIS members; if the political decision were made to withdraw that support, the regime would likely cease to exist.

The Tajik civil war (May 1992 to early 1993), labeled by many as the work of Islamic fundamentalists, more accurately reflected the domestic conflict between rival ethnic groups, regions, and clans, for access to political and economic spoils. Over 100,000 perished in the civil war, some 380,000 persons were displaced by the fighting, and 110,000 Tajiks fled across the Amu Darya into Afghanistan. The Dushanbe government survived only because Russia sided with the regime during the civil war, signed a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Cooperation with Dushanbe in May 1993, and based some 22,000 to 25,000 border guards and peacekeeping forces in the republic.

Tajikistan began assembling its own army in February 1993. The initial units were drawn from Popular Front forces active in the civil war. In the new army, those bands initially kept their distinct identity and their old commanders. This proved to be an impediment to the development of a cohesive military when some units resisted subordination to any higher authority, and casualties resulted from battles among units. Early in 1996, a rebellion by the First Battalion of Tajikistan's army, based in the Qurghonteppa area, brought about the replacement of the prime minister, a deputy prime minister, and the president's chief of staff to placate the rebel unit.

By the mid-1990s, Tajikistan's army numbered about 3,000 personnel. Russians, many of them veterans of the war in Afghanistan, made up almost three-quarters of the officer corps. The Russian Ministry of Defense continued to provide material assistance to Tajikistan's army. It was especially difficult for Tajikistan to constitute an independent military force, as most of the Tajik officers had preferred to serve as Russian troops given the significant differences in salary.

U/I Motor Rifle Brigade
U/I Motor Rifle Brigade
U/I Motor Rifle Brigade
U/I Airborne Brigade
U/I Mountain Infantry Brigade
U/I Artillery Brigade
U/I Anti-aircraft Regiment
Due to the presence of a military opposition, in the late 1990s Tajikistan's own national armed forces were undergoing more intensive build-up than was the case in other countries of the region. However, financial difficulties delayed the emergence of these forces until at least 2000. As of 1997, Tajikistan had two motorized rifle brigades (one of them is a training brigade), a special operations brigade and detachment (all primarily intended for the protection of the ruling regime), and a combined aviation squadron. Tajikistan further had a basic set of units and subunits that provide operational, technical and logistic support.

Russia provided great support for the creation of a national army and was also training command and engineer personnel. A higher military college has been created and is now functioning in Tajikistan. However, all of this was far from what should have been done as the first priority. Despite Russia's huge financial outlays to support the ruling regime in Tajikistan, and despite all the attempts on the part of the Russian Defense Ministry to assist in the creation of a combat-ready army, this army was being created very slowly. Russian taxpayer money was wasted.

Full-fledged military units (two to three brigades) should have been formed and fully armed and equipped with everything they needed. These units should have been formed using Defense Ministry units, MVD units and units of Tajikistan's National Security Ministry which already exist in Gornyy Badakhshan. Favorably disposed detachments of the Gornyy Badakhshan self-defense should be included in these units, and their basic mission should be to assist the border troops and maintain order in the Gornyy Badakhshan autonomous republic.

Tajikistanís army benefited from the inclusion of substantial experienced units of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) forces that fought the government in the civil war. However, the army, which had about 7,600 troops in 2006, is poorly funded and maintained. At that time the army had 44 main battle tanks, 34 armored infantry fightingvehicles, 29 armored personnel carriers, 12 pieces of towed artillery, 10 multiple rocket launchers, 9 mortars, and 20 surface-to-air missiles.

The Tajikistani army in 2007 had two motorized rifle brigades, one mountain brigade, one artillery brigade, one airborne assault brigade, one airborne assault detachment, and one surface-to-air missile regiment. The airborne assault brigade is an elite special forces unit which Tajikistan regards as a separate branch, the Mobile Forces. Some troops are trained by China, France, India, Russia, and the United States

The Peacekeeping Operations, or PKO Battalion, is one of the top units in the Tajik Army. The US National Guardís State Partnership Program links states with foreign nations to promote and enhance bilateral relations. The program supports homeland defense by nurturing dependable collaborative partners for coalition operations in an era of persistent conflict. The intent of the Virginia State Partnership Program [SPP] is to build capabilities in partner nations, as well as develop long-term relationships to foster stability and military professionalism. After consultation with the Tajik leadership and the U.S. Embassy, the Virginia National Guard redirected more efforts towards preparing the PKO Battalion for future service on a United Nations peacekeeping mission, perhaps in 2013.

The saying "old habits never die" could be a good way to describe the current Tajikistan Soviet-style run military. From its troop-leading procedures to its training methods, it's a trend they're slowly continuing to improve on. The american NCO Corps depends on its senior enlisted personnel training their subordinates on day-to-day operations as well the overall military picture. Currently, the Tajik Army puts all responsibilities on its officers to train its soldiers on all aspects of the Army. The establishment of an NCO Corps to the Tajik Army is a slow process that will take time.

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 deployed in January 2013 to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as part of a Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), the first-ever Seabee mission in Tajikistan. In support of the Office of Military Cooperation (OMC) and Tajikistan Ministry of Defense (MOD), the Seabee crew began construction alongside the MODís construction force, the Stroibat, Phase I of a $1 million project at the Peace Support Operation Training Center (PSOTC) at Shamsi Base, funded by GPOI.

Moscow is said to be concerned with the fact that the weapons and military equipment, which are now in Afghanistan, will be transferred to Central Asia countries. According a military-diplomatic source in Russia, the subject of a transfer of surplus weapons from Afghanistan was discussed at the end of November with Tajik and Uzbek leaders during a visit to Dushanbe and Tashkent by US Army Lt. General Vincent Brooks. They discussed the transfer of unmanned lethal devices, digital radios, individual sets of equipment, GPS navigators, armored cars and vehicles, air defense systems, tanks and rocket-artillery systems, as well as small arms equipped with night vision scopes.

According to Russian sources, the Pentagon had apparently come to the conclusion that these high-tech weapons are not suitable because theAfghan Army lacks the education and has a stable relationship with the Taliban. The armies of post-Soviet countries can master these weapons without problems. After the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, some Central Asian countries will surpass the Russian army on the level and quality of their new weapons and equipment. One can only imagine how much the help from the US and NATO will be appreciated if the equipment from Afghanistan is handed over free of charge to the Tajik army. It may be worth tens of millions of dollars. For Russia this is an impossible fund to match.

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Page last modified: 05-03-2013 19:06:02 ZULU