NUR-SULTAN -- The Kazakh Defence Ministry last month conducted a large-scale military exercise to test the combat readiness of the country's special forces.
The main objectives of the Altyn Zhebe (Golden Arrow) exercise held March 12-30 were to "verify the combat effectiveness of special forces units and the ability to carry out any combat mission within a time limit" and "to improve the field training and professional readiness of service members of all categories," the Defence Ministry said in a statement on March 12.
At the training exercises, Defence Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev reviewed the military units and the facilities of the Akmola and Almaty garrisons over the two-week period.
He also inspected the storage conditions for materiel, examined fighting vehicles and spoke with commanders of military units.
The exercise involved the air force, and an airborne extended-distance deployment of troops took place, the ministry said. The total number of troops who took part in the exercise was not disclosed.
The practical operations of the military exercises took place at night, when special forces parachuted into a mountainous area, the Ministry of Defence said.
The special forces occupied elevations assigned to them and performed reconnaissance and search missions, while drones monitored their missions, it added.
"The test programme is complex and requires flawless training, including physical training, on the part of military personnel," Askar Nurgaliyev, a soldier in Regional Command Astana, told Caravanserai. "The exercises took place on mountainous terrain, and the main part of the programme was carried out at night."
The service members performed several tasks, including passing a firearm qualification and adjusting artillery fire, he said.
Demonstrating key skills
In addition, at the base of the Mine Clearance Centre of Military Unit No. 65476 in Kapshagay, the commanding officers of mine clearance teams honed their skills in detecting and disarming explosives.
Three hundred signal operators from the airborne assault forces took part in the exercises, the ministry said, adding that they also tested the stability of the communication system when subjected to jamming.
The modern communication equipment available to Kazakhstan's airborne assault troops enables the transmission of information throughout Kazakhstan in encrypted form, according to the Defence Ministry press office.
As part of the exercise, troops also took part in the first ever mortar-battery competition at the Shygys (East) test site in East Kazakhstan Province.
About 120 soldiers showed off their skills both as units and individually. The artillerymen conducted practical shooting from mortars at different distances, and with a change of firing position under conditions that were meant to simulate real-life situations.
Demonstrating combat effectiveness
While the Kazakh military regularly stages exercises, the Altyn Zhebe (Golden Arrow) test of combat effectiveness was "the most extensive, and encompassed the different service branches," said Rauan Dautaliyev, a Shymkent-based political analyst.
"The unstable situation in Central Asia and the threat of terrorism... is currently a topic of discussion in Kazakhstan at the highest levels," he told Caravanserai.
"The test that took place represented both planned military exercises and a demonstration of combat effectiveness," he said.
The Kazakh army is now "in its best shape since Kazakhstan became independent," Dautaliyev said.