Kazakstan's national security policy remains closely associated
with that of Russia, partly because the military forces of Kazakstan
have developed more slowly than planned and partly because of
long-standing habits of interdependence. The internal security
organization of police, prisons, intelligence gathering, and criminal
justice remains substantially as it was in the Soviet era.
At independence Kazakstan had no army because defense and security
needs always had been met by the Soviet army. Initially Nazarbayev,
unlike many of his fellow new presidents, argued that his country
should function without an independent army, assuming that collective
security needs would continue to be met by armies under CIS command.
Even when the Russian military establishment changed its oath
of service to refer solely to Russia rather than to the CIS, Nazarbayev
continued the policy of drafting youth into the CIS forces rather
than those of the republic. Even though the republic's strategic
thinkers saw Kazakstan as the intersection of three potential
military theaters--Europe, the Near East, and the Far East--in
the first years of independence, the republic was thought to require
only a national guard of no more than 2,500 men, whose duties
were envisioned as primarily ceremonial.
When Russia transformed the troops on its soil into a Russian
army in the spring of 1992, Kazakstan followed suit by nationalizing
the former Soviet Fortieth Army, which remained in Kazakstan,
creating the formal basis for a Kazakstani national defense force
(see table 12, Appendix).
The armed forces established in 1992 are subordinate to the
Ministry of Defense and to the president in his capacities as
commander in chief and chairman of the National Security Council.
The second-ranking military office is chief of the General Staff.
The General Staff consists of deputy defense ministers for personnel,
ground forces, air defense, and airborne forces. The president's
main advisory body for national defense is the National Security
Council, which includes the prime minister, the first deputy prime
minister, the minister of foreign affairs, the chairman of the
Committee for Defense of the Constitution, the chairman of the
State Committee for Emergency Situations, the minister of defense,
the commander of the Border Troops, the commander of the ground
forces, and the minister of internal affairs. When it is active,
parliament has a four-member Committee for National Security and
Defense for coordination of defense policy with the executive
In the mid-1990s, plans called for developing a military force
of 80,000 to 90,000 personnel, including ground forces, air forces,
and a navy (for deployment in the Caspian Sea). In 1996 the army
included about 25,000 troops, organized into two motorized rifle
divisions, one tank division, and one artillery brigade. Attached
to that force were one multiple rocket launcher brigade, one motorized
rifle regiment, and one air assault brigade. Overall army headquarters
are at Semey, with division headquarters at Ayagöz, Sary Ozyk,
Almaty, and Semey.
According to national defense doctrine, Kazakstan has a minimal
requirement for naval forces. In late 1993, Kazakstan received
about 25 percent of the patrol boats and cutters in Russia's Caspian
Sea Flotilla, which subsequently constituted the entire naval
force. In 1993 naval bases were planned for Fort Shevchenko on
the Caspian Sea and at Aral, north of the Aral Sea, but a scarcity
of funds delayed completion. Likewise, naval air bases were planned
for Aqtau and the Buzachiy Peninsula on the Caspian Sea and at
Saryshaghan on Lake Balkhash.
In 1995 the air force included an estimated 15,000 troops. After
the withdrawal in 1994 of forty Tu-95MS nuclear-capable bombers,
the Kazakstan Air Force was left with 133 combat aircraft, whose
offensive capability relied on MiG-23, MiG-27, MiG-29, and Su-24
fighters with support from An-24 and An-26 transport and MiG-25
surveillance aircraft. Thirty air bases are scattered throughout
the republic. Since 1992 Kazak pilots have received little air
training because units have been staffed at only 30 to 50 percent
of operational levels.
Creating the projected national armed forces has proved more
difficult than expected. Since independence, the officer corps,
which was overwhelmingly Slavic in the early 1990s, has suffered
a severe loss of manpower. In 1992 nearly two-thirds of the company
and battalion commanders in Kazakstan had to be replaced as Russian-speaking
officers took advantage of CIS agreements permitting transfer
to other republics. When these transfers occurred, almost no Kazak
officers were available as replacements. In the entire Soviet
period, only three Kazaks had graduated from the Military Academy
of the General Staff, and only two had earned advanced degrees
in military science.
Kazaks have dominated the top administrative positions in the
post-Soviet military establishment. In addition to Minister of
Defense Sagadat Nurmagambetov, President Nazarbayev appointed
two Kazak colonels as deputy ministers of defense and a Kazak
general to head the Republic National Guard (the guard unit responsible
for protecting the president and other dignitaries as well as
antiterrorist operations). Kazakstan's first National Security
Council consisted of seven Kazaks, one Russian, and one Ukrainian.
In October 1994, both Slavs left office and were replaced by ethnic
Kazaks. Despite a secret call-up of officers in reserve, by the
fall of 1993 Kazakstan was short at least 650 officers, while
the Border Troops Command, 80 percent of whose officers were non-Kazak,
was understaffed by 45 percent.
Kazakstan's extensive land borders are highly vulnerable to
penetration by international smugglers, illegal immigrants, and
terrorists. In 1992 the Eastern Border Troops District of the
former Soviet Union was dissolved; this action resulted in the
formation of the Kazakstan Border Troops Command under a Kazak
general. After this transition, overall control of border security
remained with the National Security Committee, formerly the Kazakstan
Committee for State Security (KGB). The border troops commander
is a member of the National Security Committee and a member of
the Council of CIS Border Troops Commanders, which was established
in 1993 to foster regional cooperation. Cooperation with Russia,
with which Kazakstan shares roughly half its borders, is the primary
goal of border policy, and several agreements provide for Russian
aid. Cooperative agreements also are in effect with the other
four Central Asian republics.
Kazakstan's border troops force is estimated at 5,000 to 6,000
personnel. Troops are trained at the Almaty Border Troops School
(formerly run by the KGB) or under a cooperative agreement at
four Russian facilities. Headquarters are at Almaty, with several
subordinate commands, including a coastal patrol squadron headquartered
at Atyrau on the north Caspian Sea coast.
Training and Recruitment
Exacerbating the severe shortage of trained military personnel
is the virtual absence of higher-level military training facilities.
The only two such schools in existence, the general All Arms Command
School and the Border Troops Academy, both in Almaty, are capable
of graduating only about 200 junior officers a year, and in 1993
three-quarters of those left the republic. There were also three
military secondary boarding schools--in Almaty, Shymkent, and
Qaraghandy--and a civil aviation school in Aqtöbe, which is to
be converted to a military flight school sometime after 2000.
There are indications of severe problems in filling the ranks
of the armed services. Some accounts indicate that as many as
20,000 soldiers were absent without leave from the army in 1993,
and desertion and low morale among conscripts continued to be
a major problem in the mid-1990s. Another concern is the deteriorating
physical condition of inductees, one-third of whom are said to
be unfit for conscription. Discipline appears to be problematic
as well. In 1993 more than 500 crimes by soldiers were reported
in Almaty Province alone; members of the Kazakstani peacekeeping
force in Tajikistan reportedly have robbed and raped villagers
they were sent to protect. At the command level, in 1993 one general
was dismissed for selling weapons and other military goods.
Data as of March 1996