ASTANA -- Sprawling military exercises held in two provinces and along the Caspian Sea September 12-18 demonstrated Kazakhstani forces' readiness to fight terrorism.
The Karatau-2017 (Black Mountain 2017) exercises took place in Almaty and Zhambyl provinces and off Kazakhstan's shores. They demonstrated that the country's troops are capable of identifying and destroying terrorist groups, according to Maj. Gen. Almaz Jumakeyev.
The drills involved "10,000 troops, 1,500 military vehicles, 40 planes and helicopters, as well as naval vessels", according to the Defence Ministry.
The exercise included scenarios of terrorists infiltrating Kazakhstan from abroad and taking up positions in remote parts of Almaty and Zhambyl provinces, as well as hijacking a ship on Kazakhstan's part of the Caspian Sea.
"All the armed forces were engaged," Maj. Gen. Adylbek Aldabergenov, chief of staff of the exercises, told Caravanserai. "Motorised rifle, tank and artillery units as well as aircraft were deployed to eliminate the terrorists."
Naval special forces conducted a lightning raid to free the ship and wipe out the hijackers, while defeating the terrorists on land took considerably more time.
Drones and psyops
Special forces and paratroopers parachuted into the terrorist strongholds in Almaty and Zhambyl provinces from a height of 6,000 metres.
Reconnaissance units laid the groundwork for successful deployments of those forces. Motorised rifle and tank units sealed off the contested areas, trapping the terrorists.
"Drones conducted recon at night," a soldier who requested anonymity told Caravanserai. "Radiation, chemical, and biological defence forces constantly monitored the situation ... Then the drones fired rockets at the identified targets."
Before the troops engaged the terrorists in combat, they conducted ideological work by dropping leaflets from aircraft. The leaflets encouraged terrorists to take the government's side.
In the concluding phase of the exercises, held at the Koktak training ground in Almaty Province, paratroopers in armoured personnel carriers stormed a crisis zone and killed all the militants.
"Kazakhstani paratroopers have modern weapons," Maj. Gen. Jumakeyev, commander of the army's paratrooper force, told Caravanserai. "We can identify, blockade and destroy terrorists anywhere in the country."