Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan focus on extremist threats during joint military exercises

By Kanat Altynbayev


Kyrgyz and Kazakh troops can be seen at the opening of the military exercises at the Edelweiss training centre on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul September 3. [Kazakh Defence Ministry]

ISSYK-KUL, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have just concluded joint military exercises to help bolster security in Central Asia and tackle potential terrorist threats.

A contingent of Kazakh troops arrived in Kyrgyzstan Tuesday (September 3) to take part in the Issyk-Kul–Anyrakai 2019 joint tactical and special training exercises, reported that day, citing the Kyrgyz military general staff.

The joint exercises between the Kyrgyz and Kazakh special operations units took place at the Edelweiss training centre on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan through Friday (September 6).

Kazakhstan sent two special operations groups and one armoured group, totaling about 30 service members in all, according to the Kazakh Defence Ministry.

The objective of the exercise was to test the combat readiness and cohesiveness of the units during a special operation to locate illegal armed groups.

"This is an excellent opportunity for commanders to train personnel who can effectively use firearms, technical reconnaissance equipment and the protective features of the terrain," the Kazakh Defence Ministry said in a statement. "Moreover, such exercises under field conditions build service members' psychological resilience and physical stamina."

"Given present-day realities, co-operation with the goal of joint and high-quality resistance to international extremism and terrorism is of particular importance," said Col. Ruslan Ishkarin, deputy commander of Kyrgyz ground forces, as quoted by "Special attention will be paid to these aspects during the exercises."

More than 300 personnel from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan took part in last year's Issyk-Kul–Anyrakai joint exercises.

Intensifying military co-operation in the region

Military co-operation between the two nations will only intensify as they address continuing threats from militant groups, predict analysts.

"Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan should work on increasing their combat readiness and ability to co-operate effectively, since these days the threat of terrorism and extremism is growing," Edil Osmonbetov, a Bishkek-based political analyst who specialises in security issues, said in an interview.

Terrorism is not just an external threat but also a domestic one as well, as different groups of the population become radicalised, he said.

International military exercises do much to strengthen regional security, said Dauren Ospanov, a retired major from Almaty.

"It is vital to continually share experience and skills both within the region and with Western countries, which can provide us with effective theoretical and practical assistance," Ospanov said in an interview.

In June, the United States led the Steppe Eagle 2019 peacekeeping training in Kazakhstan for service members from several countries.

Troops from Great Britain, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the United States took part in the joint training.

The soldiers from Central Asia gained valuable experience, including useful skills for fighting under a variety of conditions.

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Atambaev will likely go berserk