Kazakh army to adopt high-precision weapons - defense minister
20/03/2007 14:46 ASTANA, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakhstan plans to upgrade its Armed Forces with modern high-precision weapons in the near future, the defense minister said Tuesday.
Kazakhstan is developing a new draft of its military doctrine and President Nursultan Nazarbayev has recently signed a decree approving a state program to modernize the Kazakh Armed Forces by 2015.
"The structure of weaponry and military equipment is changing; therefore we will change our approach to the deployment of these weapons," said Danial Akhmetov, who became the Central Asian republic's first civilian defense minister in January 2007.
"We must rely on pinpoint strikes with high-precision weapons that are in service with the Armed Forces," he said, adding that the new military doctrine will focus on equipping the army with advanced weaponry, introduction of automated battlefield control systems and new technologies.
Kazakhstan has long opted for the development of a highly efficient professional army. Its Armed Forces currently is comprised 87,000 troops and only 15-20% of that number are conscripts.
The minister reiterated Tuesday that the Kazakh army will rely heavily on professional, well-trained soldiers in future military operations.
"Permanent combat readiness units that do not require conscription will form the foundation of the [Kazakh] army," Akhmetov said.
He also stressed the importance of combat training in military development and said the Defense Ministry will allocate up to one-third of the military budget for this purpose in the near future.
"A strong army spends 30% of the military budget on combat training and we will pursue this goal," the minister said.
High revenues from extensive exports of energy resources has allowed the former Soviet republic to achieve a fast pace of economic development with an average annual GDP growth of 9-10%. Consequently, the country has been able to significantly increase its defense expenditures over the past few years.
In 2007, the Kazakh military budget doubled over the previous year to exceed $1.2 billion, according to RBC daily.
Some experts believe that a sharp increase in Kazakhstan's defense spending reflects the country's concern about the deterioration of the geopolitical situation in the region.
An ongoing anti-terrorism operation in Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear ambitions, a volatile situation in Iraq, and the rise of Islamic extremism in neighboring Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan pose a clear and present threat to the security of energy sources and supply routes which are vital for the fast-growing Central Asian state.
With rising security concerns in Central Asia, Kazakhstan will seek closer military-technical cooperation with foreign countries, especially its neighbors, including Russia, the minister said.
The country is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a post-Soviet regional security group, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, another regional security and economic alliance in Asia comprising Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
CSTO members - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan - use the organization as a platform for fighting drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime, and have pledged to provide immediate military assistance to each other in the event of an attack. The bloc has a Collective Rapid Reaction Force deployed in Central Asia, and is continuing to build up its military forces.
The two blocs will conduct their first joint military exercise in summer 2007 to practice combat interoperability and troop cohesiveness while staving off potential threats.
The joint maneuvers, named Peaceful Mission Rubezh-2007, will be held in the Russia's Volga-Urals area and will involve ground and air units of all member countries.
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