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Uzbekistan - Ministry of Defense

Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been established by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 3, 1992. Regulations and structure of the Ministry of Defense have been approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan ?UP 2719 dated September 29, 2000. The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Uzbekistan is the state executive authority conducting a governmental policy and management in the defence sphere, as well as coordinating activity of the ministries, agencies and other authority bodies on the issues concerning to defence.

The president of Uzbekistan is the commander in chief of the armed forces, and he has authority to appoint and dismiss all senior commanders. The minister of defense and the chief of staff have operational and administrative control. Since early 1992, President Karimov has exercised his supreme authority in making appointments and in the application of military power. The staff structure of the armed forces retains the configuration of the Turkestan Military District. The structure includes an Operational and Mobilization Organization Directorate and departments of intelligence, signals, transport, CIS affairs, aviation, air defense, and missile troops and artillery. In 1996 total military strength was estimated at about 25,000. The armed forces are divided into four main components: ground defense forces, air force, air defense, and national guard.

One week after independence was declared in August 1991, Uzbekistan established a Ministry for Defense Affairs. The first minister of defense was charged with negotiating with the Soviet Union the future disposition of Soviet military units in Uzbekistan. In enforcing its independent status in military matters, a primary consideration was abolishing the Soviet Union's recruitment of Uzbekistani citizens for service in other parts of the union and abroad. For this purpose, a Department of Military Mobilization was established. In early 1992, when international interest in a joint CIS force waned, the Ministry for Defense Affairs of Uzbekistan took over the Tashkent headquarters of the former Soviet Turkestan Military District. The ministry also assumed jurisdiction over the approximately 60,000 Soviet military troops in Uzbekistan, with the exception of those remaining under the designation "strategic forces of the Joint CIS Command." In the same period, the Supreme Soviet approved laws establishing national defense procedures, conditions for military service, social and legal welfare of service personnel, and the legal status of CIS strategic forces.

A presidential decree in March 1992 declared the number of former Soviet troops in Uzbekistan to exceed strategic requirements and the financial resources of Uzbekistan. With the subsequent abolition of the Turkestan Military District, Uzbekistan established a Ministry of Defense, replacing the Ministry for Defense Affairs. The CIS Tashkent Agreement of May 15, 1992, distributed former Soviet troops and equipment among the former republics in which they were stationed. Among the units that Uzbekistan inherited by that agreement were a fighter-bomber regiment at Chirchiq, an engineer brigade, and an airborne brigade at Farghona.

For the first two years, the command structure of the new force was dominated by the Russians and other Slav officers who had been in command in 1992. In 1992 some 85 percent of officers and ten of fifteen generals were Slavs. In the first year, Karimov appointed Uzbeks to the positions of assistant minister of defense and chief of staff, and a Russian veteran of the Afghan War to the position of commander of the Rapid Reaction Forces. Lieutenant General Rustam Akhmedov, an Uzbek, has been minister of defense since the establishment of the ministry. In 1993 Uzbekistan nationalized the three former Soviet military schools in Tashkent.

The opening ceremony for CENTRASBAT took place in Kyrgyzstan on September 26, 1998. USCENTCOM Commander General Zinni discussed the exercise with Uzbek Minister of Defense Tursunov who angrily stated When I see a Kazakh, I see a Russian, and when I see a [Kyrgyzstani], I see a weak Kazakh. The depth of the animosity between the countries was made very clear. Tursunov became increasingly difficult to work with during the rest of his tenure as MOD.

Owing to their efforts to ensure the preservation of their regimes and a deep-seated distrust of all but their closest confidants, many Central Asian leaders use their internal security apparatus to ensure various ministries stay in line. During most of his tenure, Uzbek MOD Kadir Gulomovs first deputy ministers was a senior National Security Service (SNB) officer. Gulomov rarely meet with US officials without this officer being present. American Embassy personnel working security cooperation issues with the Uzbek MOD did so through the International Department, which reported to Gulomov through the same SNB officer. Karimov perceived Gulomov, a fluent English-speaker and a highly polished and popular individual with US officials, as a threat.

As the US-Uzbek relationship soured, these arrangements had serious repercussions for those that had worked closest with US officials. President Karimov seemed to single out those officials with particular vengeance. On November 18, 2005, Karimov unexpectedly fired Defense Minister Kadir Gulomov. An MOD spokesman stated that Gulomov had been named advisor to Karimov on matters of education and science. On May 17, 2006, reports surfaced that criminal charges had been brought against Gulomov and that he was to be tried by courts martial. No information was immediately available about the charges against Gulomov, although most observers believed the matter to be related to his close relations with US officials during tenure as MOD and that the charges had a undeniable undertones.50 Subsequent reports indicted he had been charged with fraud, corruption, and abuse of office. On May 22, 2005, the trial began. It ended on July 14 with Gulomov being sentenced to five years imprisonment with the sentence suspended.

The presidential resolution "On establishment of the Public Council under the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Uzbekistan" from 24 October 2012 emphasizes that the Public Council will serve to deepen democratic reforms and to form civil society, to ensure openness and transparency in the activities of the military and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic Uzbekistan, to ensure participation of citizens and the public in governmental policy in the defense and military area, to increase the prestige of military service, to promote the education of young people for military service and encourage the youth in the spirit of patriotism.

The council consists of 28 members, including the members of the Senate and the Legislative Chamber of the Republic of Uzbekistan, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, intellectuals, cultural workers and scientists. Based on the goals and objectives of the Charter of the Public Council, commissions for the five priority areas are established.

One of the commissions will conduct a systematic monitoring and in-depth analysis of public opinion on key issues of defense and military policy and make proposals and recommendations to improve the sector. The second commission is tasked with conducting public examination of normative-legal documents of the defense and military sector. The third committee will deal with the social and legal protection of military personnel and their families. The fourth and fifth commission, respectively, are tasked with organizing cultural, educational, sports and media coverage of reforms in the armed forces of the country, improving the image of the national army.

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