The 1992 constitution provides that the republic shall maintain
armed forces to defend state sovereignty and that military service
for males is a universal obligation that prevails over other constitutional
obligations. Turkmenistan's government is adamant about the need
to develop and maintain strong, well-trained, and well-equipped
armed forces to defend the country's independence. At the same
time, it has stated that it will maintain a posture of "positive
neutrality" in regard to national security.
Under the agreement for shared command, the presidents of Turkmenistan
and the Russian Federation act as joint commanders in chief. By
agreement, troops under joint command cannot act without the consent
of both ministries of defense. In Turkmenistan the chief military
policy-making body, the Supreme Defense Committee, consists of
the president, the ministers of defense and internal affairs,
the chairman of the Supreme Court, the procurator general, and
the leaders of the five provinces. Prior to the creation of the
Turkmenistan Ministry of Defense in January 1992, the republic's
military establishment fell under the command of the Turkestan
Military District of the Soviet armed forces.
Turkmenistan's dependence on the Russian Federation for security
against aggressive neighbors, at least until the republic's armed
forces become a viable deterrent, creates tension with the foreign
policy goal of remaining as independent as possible from Russia.
These conflicting national security considerations explain the
Niyazov government's implementation of a bilateral military alliance
with Russia while at the same time refusing to commit itself to
substantial participation in regional military agreements that
possibly would alienate Iran.
Data as of March 1996