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Turkmenistan - Ministry of Defense

Although it set up its own Ministry of Defense Affairs (January 1992) and created a ceremonial National Guard (October 1991), the bilateral Russo-Turkmen Agreement of July 1992 stated that formations and units on Turkmen soil would be under Russo-Turkmen "joint jurisdiction" with the Russian Defense Ministry retaining sole control over certain air defense and long-range bomber units and the two defense ministers coordinating the activities of joint armed forces deployed on the territory of Turkmenistan. Of approximately 300 Soviet units stationed in Turkmenistan in December 1991, about 200 units and formations were transferred to Turkmen control.

In the early 2000s, Turkmenistan made significant increases in annual defense expenditures. As of 2002, the country's military budget was 90 million dollars, or 3.4 percent of GDP. This modest figure was due to the "self-reliance" and "food sovereignty" of the army. Troops spent a great deal of time on animal husbandry and farming. Of course, this had a negative impact on combat training. In addition, the higher echelons of power in charge prospered through corruption and localism. Between 2003 and 2005, the defense budget increased from US$83 million to US$173 million. By 2009 spending was estimated at US$200 million. Turkmenistan has announced it is going to increase its military capability, in part because of disputes with Azerbaijan over Caspian oil fields. Training was to be stepped up, but few details have been made public.

In early 2009 Colonel Yaylym Berdiyev replaced General of the Army, Agageldi Mammetgeldiyev, who was allowed to retire for health reasons. Colonel Berdiyev was previously the Chairman of the State Customs Service. General-Major Muhammetguly Atabayev continued to be the primary deputy and acting Chief of the General Staff, and is a medical doctor. Atabayev was the only general officer in the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) were in the slow process of transferring emergency response-related responsibilities to a new organization, the State Service for Emergency Situations.

On 21 January 2009, President Berdimuhamedov held an expanded session of the State Security Council that included a broad assemblage of government officials, representatives of public organizations and the media, senior commanders of military and law-enforcement officials. On the agenda were an assessment of the work done by law-enforcement and military agencies in 2008, consideration of a presidential decree "On the Military Doctrine of Turkmenistan" and instructions for law-enforcement and military organizations. Chiefs of law-enforcement and military agencies reported on their respective areas of responsibility and on the implementation of scheduled plans for military reform.

The first official to make a presentation was Niyazov-era holdover Minister of Defense, Agageldi Mammetgeldiyev, who reported in particular about progress on the construction of military townships. Following the report, President Berdimuhamedov relieved Mammetgeldiyev from his position due to health reasons, reportedly at the minister's own request, and thanked him for loyal service to the country. Berdimuhamedov then gave the floor to Prosecutor, General Chary Hojamyradov, who reported on serious violations in the Ministry of Defense revealed in the course of a special inspection. Supreme Court Chief Justice, Yaranmyrat Yazmuradov, also made a statement concerning the investigation of some Ministry of Defense Officers.

Next on the agenda was the report by State Border Service Chief, Bayram Atayevich Alovov. He was followed by Prosecutor General Hojamyradov, who gave a detailed description of shortcomings in the Border Service uncovered during his investigation. Berdimuhamedov remarked that the activity of the Border Service had not fully met its responsibilities, noting prevalent instances of mismanagement. Alovov was dismissed from his post and demoted in military rank from General Major to Colonel.

Following a report about weak management in the State Migration Service, Berdimuhamedov relieved the acting Chairman, Yaran Sadykov, from his position. The President also "gravely reprimanded" the Minister of Internal Affairs, Orazgeldi Amanmyradov, and required him to correct his shortcomings.

Berdimuhamedov wasted no time in announcing replacements for the vacant posts. Noting his professional qualities and organizational skills, the President appointed the current Customs Service Chief, Yaylym Yagmyrovich Berdiyev, to the position of Minister of Defense and Secretary of the Security Council. Orazgeldi Taganmuradovich Esenov was appointed Acting Customs Service chief. Berdimuhamedov also tapped State Counternarcotics Service (SCNS) Chief, Murad Yslamov, to become the head of the State Border Service. In so doing, the President noted his achievement in organizing the work of the recently-established agency. Serdar Gurbangulyevich Batyrov was appointed the Acting Chief of Counternarcotics Service and Seyitniyaz Gurbanmammedovich Ballyev the Acting Chairman of Migration Service.

On 27 October 2009, Turkmenistan's Independence Day, President Berdimuhamedov issued a decree conferring military and special titles and class ranks to military and law enforcement officials. Minister of Defense, Colonel Yaylym Berdiyev and Chief of the State Border Service (SBS) of Turkmenistan, Colonel Myrat Yslamov were conferred the rank of Major General. These promotions increased the number of the MajGens in Turkmenistan from two to four. So far, only the Minister of National Security Charymyrat Amanov and Deputy Minister of Defense, Chief of the Main Service for Civil Defense and Rescue Operations, Muhammetguly Atabayev held this rank. No current official held the rank above MajGen, except for Berdimuhamedov himself. Former Minister of Defense Mammetgeldiyev, who was awarded by Turkmenbashy with the rank of Army General, retired early this year. Presently, in a country with an estimated 50,000-person army, only President Berdimuhamedov has the rank of Army General. Another general, Gurbanmuhammet Kasymov, former Turkmen Ambassador to China and later to Kazakhstan, resigned his position due to health reasons.



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