OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Recent joint exercises for various Kyrgyz forces gave them the skills to defend the border from extremists.
During the Bogot (Barrier)-2016 exercises July 7-8 in Osh Province, special forces from the State Border Service (GPS), Emergency Situations Ministry and the regular armed forces worked on co-operating in defeating border security threats.
The GPS and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) organised the exercises, according to the GPS press office. They were part of the OSCE project "Enhancing the ability of the Kyrgyz government to engage in regional co-operation in border security and management."
"This is the third year in a row that we have held these sorts of exercises," the GPS said in a statement.
The troops participating in the joint exercises developed practical skills in breaking up crimes during tense border situations, accepting refugees from neighbouring states and destroying terrorist units. They also trained on using modern weapons and aircraft.
The troops acquitted themselves well, observers said.
The border troops and other forces involved practiced facing situations that crop up every day on the border, army Maj. Gen. Zakir Tilenov said after the drills, according to the GPS.
"Every situation is inherently different and requires a special approach," Tilenov said. "The GPS ... has border guard units run through simulated situations every year."
GPS Chairman Abdikarim Alimbayev told troops in the drill about some steps the GPS is taking to better secure the border.
"Our service continues to equip and improve the Uzbekistani and Tajik sections of the border," he said. "We are also improving border units' infrastructure and setting up additional outposts."
At a roundtable about the exercises, held later in Osh city, the participants discussed co-operation among security agencies in securing the border, Deputy Prime Minister Jenish Razakov told Caravanserai.
"Similar joint exercises ... in 2014-2015 had positive results too," Razakov said. "Co-operation between security and law enforcement agencies, as well as with local governments ... plays an important role in the drills."
A broad audience
Distinguished officials watched the troops perform the exercises. They included national government officials, MPs and the directors of all the country's security agencies, as well as local leaders and civil society activists.
Such exercises inspire hope for peaceful co-existence with neighbouring countries, Fakhriddin Tajibayev, a businessman from Chekabad, Osh Province, told Caravanserai.
"We are calm because [our troops] are defending the border against instigators of conflict and against militants trying to return home from wars," he said. "But residents in border villages need to be alert and to help the state protect our borders."
Every citizen must help secure the border, he said, adding that older Kyrgyz should learn the laws and explain them to the younger generation so they can avoid border incidents.
"During ... seminars and adult education, we always focus participants' attention on their responsibilities," Matlyuba Rakhimjanova, leader of an Osh women's council, told Caravanserai.
"Sometimes individuals try to cross the border illegally or to use false documents at a check-point," she said. "Or they try to smuggle something."
Holding exercises like Bogot-2016 regularly will convey to the public that the authorities are protecting the border and the residents of the border zone, she said.