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The limits of friendship: US security cooperation in Central Asia.

Chapter 3


The goal is to prepare in advance, so that if we are ever called to do a mission like this, we are not meeting people for the first time.

--Brig Gen Martin R. Berndt explaining the CENTRASBAT exercise in September 1997

The period from 1996 though 1998 marked a steep increase in US security-cooperation efforts in Central Asia. Although funding for the denuclearization efforts began to decline, funding for the IMET program tripled, funding for new initiatives such as the ICP and FMF was initiated, military contacts and exchange visits expanded and deepened, and many of the security-cooperation programs began to focus on a new unit, the CENTRASBAT. By the end of this period, USCENTCOM had assumed responsibility for military relationships in Central Asia. Most of the increase in activities was with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and, to a lesser degree, Kyrgyzstan. Turkmenistan, with a foreign policy of positive neutrality, limited its interaction with the US military; Tajikistan was still suffering from its civil war.

Roots of Expansion

There are a number of factors that contributed to the dramatic expansion of the security-cooperation programs in Central Asia. Most importantly, by the end of 1995, the nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan had been secured, eliminating what had been the primary and most immediate concern for the United States. The ballistic and cruise missile warheads were returned to Russia by April 1995, and the last nuclear device in Kazakhstan, in limbo at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site since 1990, was destroyed in May. Although much more work remained on the program (the SS-18 ICBMs were returned to Russia in September 1996 and the missile silos destroyed in September 1999), the initial concerns regarding the nuclear warheads had been resolved. (1) Both the United States and Kazakhstan viewed these initial denuclearization efforts as successes in military cooperation, and senior policy officials and military officers in both countries were ready to build on those achievements.

Additionally, US perspectives on the role of security cooperation had continued to evolve during the early years of the Clinton administration. Security-cooperation activities were now seen as valuable tools to support engagement, the process of assisting the political and economic transformations in Eurasia, and in doing so expanding the number of nations with democratic governments and open economic systems. Engagement, in short, would lead to enlargement of stable, secure, prosperous, and free states--as described in the 1995 National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement. (2) This new perspective fundamentally altered the role of US military forces in peacetime. Armed forces were no longer simply preparing and training for the next war. Instead, they were a critical tool used to promote US foreign policy objectives:
   The U.S. military plays an essential role in building coalitions
   and shaping the international environment in ways that protect and
   promote U.S. interests. Through means such as the forward
   stationing or deployment of forces, defense cooperation and
   security assistance, and training and exercises with allies and
   friends, our armed forces help to promote regional stability, deter
   aggression and coercion, prevent and reduce conflicts and threats,
   and serve as role models for militaries in emerging democracies.

In 1995 the United States still had hopes that the Central Asian states would continue the modest steps taken toward political and economic reforms, although in reality very little had been accomplished. But a new concern arose: potential Russian monopolization of the energy infrastructure in Central Asia. By this time, it was clear that the oil and natural gas deposits in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan could form a significant percentage of the world's energy resources, and Washington wanted to ensure Moscow did not control their exploitation and shipment to the West. At the time, all of the existing oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia transited Russia, giving Moscow a monopoly in the export and distribution process. Promoting new pipelines that did not transit Russia had both a practical and a political aspect: while it would help guarantee free access to these resources, Washington also saw the development of the oil and gas deposits as the platform for economic prosperity and political development in Central Asia. (4)

These factors drove the Clinton administration to adopt a more active foreign policy in Central Asia, but also to alter its foreign policy toward Russia with regard to Moscow's involvement in the Caucasian and Central Asian states and their energy resources. Washington had originally viewed a democratizing Russia as a source for stability and security in these southern areas. By the mid-1990s, however, US officials had concluded this approach had failed. Although Russia had strategically and militarily withdrawn from the region, except for the deployment of forces in Tajikistan, it continued to deal with the Central Asian states with a heavy hand. The United States sought to promote the independence and sovereignty of the Central Asian states as a means of decreasing Russian influence, and in doing so increase the potential of these nations to adopt political and economic reforms. This challenge toward Russian hegemony in Central Asia marked the beginning of a new rivalry.

Washington's approaches to Central Asia were not unwelcome. By the mid-1990s, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan were eager to develop new military ties with Western nations, particularly the United States. The defense structures of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had proved to be completely inadequate, and Russia had quickly established bilateral military agreements with each nation to provide structure and continuity to the relationships. The Central Asian states largely welcomed the support, but by the mid-1990s had recognized its limitations. The Russian military was collapsing-deployments in Moldova, Georgia, and Tajikistan and the strategic morass in Chechnya left little to offer. Almaty, Bishkek, and Tashkent began searching for additional security partners, particularly in the West. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan sought to balance new relationships with their existing ties to Russia, but Uzbekistan sought a strategic shift, and ultimately saw the United States as its primary partner. (5)

An important element of the desire to seek outside partners was the state of development of the armed forces of these nations. Through this period, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan continued to grow, stabilize, and mature their armed forces. All had established their own defense ministries, and most had created specific offices within them responsible for international military cooperation. (6) Kazakhstan's first defense attache to the United States, Lt Col Muslim M. Altynbayev, the son of Defense Minister Col Gen Mukhtar Altynbayev, was accredited by the DOD in May 1997. (7) The establishment of these organizations and the growth of indigenous capabilities meant these forces were better poised to absorb the increased programs offered by the United States.

A bureaucratic constituency similarly began to develop within the Departments of Defense and State that could advocate for increased resources and attention. By 1995 defense attaches had been assigned to the embassies in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan; attaches would be assigned to the other countries in 1997. (8) Desk officers within various offices in the Defense and State Departments were specifically assigned to manage these growing programs in Central Asia and, by extension, the relationships with these countries. Offices, organizations, and commands no longer viewed security cooperation with Central Asia as a adjunct to the programs in Eastern Europe and Russia, but strategically important in its own right.

By the mid-1990s, the conditions were set for the United States to increase its military cooperation activities in Central Asia. Additional resources were found, new programs were added, and new relationships were built. Through its security -cooperation programs, the United States sought to balance its relationship to Kazakhstan with a new one involving Uzbekistan. At the time, many observers saw Uzbekistan to be the key to regional stability and advocated that Tashkent should receive primacy in US foreign policy in the region. Frederick Starr, soon to be the director of the new Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, argued in an influential Foreign Affairs article in early 1996 that Uzbekistan was "uniquely positioned to anchor the security of the region." (9) His thoughts were echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski and others, including Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who praised Uzbekistan as "an island of stability." (10) Nonetheless, US policy sought a balance between Tashkent and Almaty in this period, and security assistance funding continued to favor Kazakhstan, if only by a small amount. (11)

The United States and Uzbekistan initiated this new relationship when, on 13 October 1995, Secretary Perry and Uzbekistan' minister of defense Lt Gen Rustam Akmedov signed a "Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Defense and Military Relations," similar to the framework document agreed to by Kazakhstan in early 1994. (12) Both of these agreements established bilateral working groups (BWG) between the United States and each country. These working groups would meet on an annual basis to negotiate the broad areas of cooperation the two countries would undertake during the following year. The results of the BWGs were captured in a Plan of Cooperation that was signed by the secretary of defense and the respective minister of defense. The United States conducted separate BWGs with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that outlined cooperative efforts for 1996, providing a certain measure of structure to the activities. Washington wanted to avoid favoring one over the other, so along with relatively equal levels of funding and comparative levels of interaction, it promoted multilateral initiatives such as CENTRASBAT to encourage regional cooperation and reduce Russian influence.


Denuclearization and democratization continued to be important objectives for the expanded security-cooperation efforts, but they became increasingly disconnected. Although the denuclearization effort originally spawned the military contacts program, one of the original methods for promoting democratization, by the mid-1990s these activities were almost completely separate. Part of this was due to the elimination of nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan, which meant there was no longer a need to establish military ties designed specifically to defuse a potential nuclear crisis; instead, the defense ties established through the military contact programs primarily were used to promote other objectives. Additionally, the CTR program increasingly used US (and occasionally Kazakh or Russian) contractors to carry out the actual activities in Kazakhstan, thereby reducing the interaction between uniformed members of the two military forces. Bureaucratically, the denuclearization effort was executed by the OSD, the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA), (13) and the OSIA, while the military contact programs generally were conducted by the combatant commands such as USEUCOM, USACOM, and USPACOM. (14) Likewise, the bureaucratic structures in the Central Asian states separated the two activities. In Kazakhstan, denuclearization and arms control activities were managed by the Kazakhstan Center for Monitoring Arms Reductions and Supporting Inspection Activities (established in 1992, but beginning actual operations in 1995), while other security cooperation programs were managed by the International Military Cooperation Department within the Ministry of Defense. (15) As DOD agencies (including those conducting the CTR Program) began to increase their attention on proliferation issues, they began to work more closely with nonmilitary organizations within Kazakhstan, such as the Customs Service and Border Guards. (Although frequent restructuring and reorganization of governments ministries within Kazakhstan meant these services were occasionally subordinated to the Ministry of Defense.) Finally, USEUCOM, which conducted a significant percentage of the military contact events during the early years, increasingly linked those activities with programs such as the Marshall Center to reinforce the concept of democratization.

Proliferation Prevention

The CTR program continued to eliminate the remaining vestiges of the nuclear weapons infrastructure in Kazakhstan, but the emphasis and funding slowly began to shift toward securing and eliminating biological and chemical weapons and toward preventing the proliferation of the materials, technology, and knowledge needed to develop any type of weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

Based on the personal relationships established through the denuclearization effort, US and Kazakh officials agreed in June 1996 to jointly eliminate a legacy of the vast Soviet biological weapons program, the anthrax production facilities at Stepnogorsk, (for which $5 million was specifically authorized by Congress). Other initiatives soon followed, including an agreement to eliminate partially constructed chemical weapons facilities at Pavlodar and the expansion of the CTR program to Uzbekistan. In 1997, under a temporary umbrella agreement with the Uzbekistani Ministry of Defense, DOD began a five-year program to eliminate the chemical weapons production facility at Nukus, and, in October 2001, started to demilitarize the biological weapons testing range at Vozrozhdeniye Island. (16) Securing and eliminating biological and chemical weapons formed the core of the CTR program's work in Central Asia for the next six to seven years (table A.6 and figure A.5, appendix A).

The CTR program also initiated proliferation prevention efforts in Central Asia, but these were soon shifted to other agencies. From its inception, the CTR program included the objective of improving export controls and border security in recipient nations in order to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials. In Kazakhstan, this effort included assistance in drafting the necessary legislation to support the new State Border Service and Customs Service and building infrastructure, but it also included the first transfer of equipment to Kazakhstani security forces. Six patrol boats, including five 27-foot Boston Whalers and one 42-foot Sea Ark, were delivered in late 1995 and early 1996 to assist with enforcement capabilities on the Caspian Sea. Originally intended for the Kazakhstani Customs Service, a ministerial restructuring meant these boats were ultimately delivered to the new Kazakhstani Navy, which was given the responsibility of maritime security. (Another ministerial reorganization in 1999 shifted these patrol boats to the State Border Service.) In conjunction with the transfer of the patrol boats, the US Army Corps of Engineers conducted a Port Engineering Infrastructure Survey at Aktau and Bautino, Kazakhstan, in July 1996. At the time, the Kazakhstani Ministry of Defense planned to establish a naval headquarters and training institute at Aktau, and the port survey was intended to determine its suitability for military use. (17)

At the end of 1995, however, the export controls initiative was removed from the CTR Program and the Defense Department and transferred to the Department of State, becoming the EXBS Program. (18) In 1995 Congress mandated DOD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) establish a joint program to "deter, interdict, and prevent the possible proliferation and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by organized crime groups and individuals" within the former Soviet Union, primarily through law enforcement training and the provision of some equipment. Similarly, in 1997 DOD established a joint effort with the US Customs Service (USCS), now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to improve the counterproliferation capabilities of border services. While this program included some training, it primarily focused on providing equipment. (19) These two programs have been combined under the title of the ICP. Funding for the program has been modest--just over $3 million was spent in Central Asia from 1995 through 1999 (table A.4, appendix A). (20)

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were the first nations in Central Asia to benefit from the ICP. Joint DOD-FBI teams traveled to Almaty and Tashkent in late 1996 to explain the program and conduct country assessments. Both countries were invited to send delegations to the DOD-FBI-sponsored WMD Executive Seminars held in Budapest, Hungary; the Kazakh representatives attended in June 1997 and the Uzbeks in August. Kyrgyzstan was also admitted to the program in August 1997 and attended the seminar the following February. Soon the ICP program began executing events in Central Asia: ICP teams managed a colloquium on legal issues in Uzbekistan in April 1998 and conducted a series of training events in Druzbha, Aktau, and Almaty in July. Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek delegations also attended training through the ICP at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Radiation Academy in Washington State in October 1998. (21)


Simultaneously, the efforts to promote democratization within the military forces in Central Asia also began to narrow its focus toward more specific objectives, although this development was slow, uneven, and generally applicable only to Kazakhstan. Two specific objectives were deliberately identified through bilateral Plans of Cooperation--noncommissioned officer professional development and defense resource management--and one emerged through opportunity rather than deliberate planning--civil-military relations in the context of disaster response.

Military Contacts Program

The military contacts program matured and expanded during this period, assisted by several new initiatives. In 1992, as USEUCOM solidified its JCTP as the military contact program with nations of East Europe and the European portion of the former Soviet Union, the National Guard Bureau in Washington, DC, proposed creating a parallel State Partnership Program (SPP) to link specific state National Guard organizations with these same nations. The SPP started in the Baltic region (largely because the withdrawal of Soviet forces left these new states with no military forces, institutions, or equipment) with agreements signed in early 1993 with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, but soon grew to include most of the nations in the region. (22) Kazakhstan was partnered with Arizona in 1993, but events did not start until 1995; Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were partnered in 1996 (table 2). (Tajikistan was eventually partnered in 2002.)

The SPP offered many advantages: having the National Guard as a resource ensured the military contact programs were not unduly affected by the major reductions in the active duty force structure through the 1990s; the Guard's role as citizen-soldiers provided increased exposure to the concepts of civil-military relations, and the SPP included opportunities for broad governmental, academic, and commercial ties between these states and nations. (23) The National Guard units began to conduct an increasing number of the military contact events each year.

The second initiative started with NATO. In January 1994 at the Brussels Summit, NATO leaders established the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program as a means of developing practical military ties with its former adversaries in the Warsaw Pact that would lead to partnerships, and for some, membership. These ties were bilateral between NATO and the partner nation, but the structure and many of the specific events conducted under this program fostered increased multilateral ties. A nation joined the PfP program by signing a Framework Document, in which it commits:
   to preserve democratic societies; to maintain the principles of
   international law; to fulfill obligations under the UN Charter, the
   Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Helsinki Final Act and
   international disarmament and arms control agreements; to refrain
   from the threat or use of force against other states; to respect
   existing borders; and to settle disputes peacefully.... to promote
   transparency in national defense planning and budgeting to
   establish democratic control over armed forces, and to develop the
   capacity for joint action with NATO in peacekeeping and
   humanitarian operations ... The Framework Document also enshrines
   a commitment by the Allies to consult with any Partner country that
   perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political
   independence or security. (24)

The partner nation defines the areas in which it wishes to cooperate through a presentation document and then develops, in concert with NATO, an Individual Partnership Program (IPP) describing specific events that will help it meet its goals. These events could be conducted by a NATO organization or by a NATO member state under the PfP program. Over time, this process can ultimately lead some nations to a Membership Action Plan, which identifies the specific actions necessary to be eligible for full membership within NATO (table 3).

Most nations in Central Asia joined PfP soon after it was announced but it took until mid-1996 for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to develop their first IPPs. NATO's interest and involvement in Central Asia remained limited throughout the 1990s with only a limited number of multinational events such as personnel exchanges, exercises, seminars, and conferences, often conducted by the United States or Turkey. The Central Asian states have been reluctant participants in NATO activities, however, preferring bilateral relationships whenever possible, and in recent years a number of NATO nations have established bilateral security cooperation programs to complement those done via the NATO channels. Often specific NATO activities are conducted by a single lead country such as Turkey and are often portrayed or perceived in country as bilateral activities. (25) Until 2002 the focus of these efforts was largely on civilmilitary cooperation, defense reform, civil defense and emergency response, peacekeeping, and with a few scientific and educational exchanges. While many of these efforts have continued, much more effort is now given to counterterrorism and counterdrug trafficking initiatives. But the PfP program helped reinforce US objectives of denuclearization and democratization and offered additional tangible objectives for its security cooperation efforts--increasing the interoperability of the Central Asian military forces so they could participate in NATO-led peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. (26)

To encourage the development of the PfP program, in July 1994 at a NATO meeting in Warsaw, Poland, Pres. William J. Clinton announced his intent to ask Congress for up to $100 million in funding for a new Warsaw Initiative Fund (WIF). (27) These funds could be used to fund partner nation participation in exercises, seminars, conferences, and other events that were either part of the nation's PfP program or that were agreed to be "in the spirit of" the PfP objectives. WIF could also be used to fund interoperability programs, including equipment transfers (table 4).

Only a few of these WIF interoperability programs, including the environmental exchanges, defense planning seminars, and defense resource management studies (DRMS) were implemented in Central Asia, and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were the primary recipients. Some were more successful than others: the defense environmental assessments and exchanges later became an important element of the military contact program, but the resource management studies were ultimately cancelled in 1998-1999 because USCENTCOM planners believed the training was not effective and the Kazakhstanis and Uzbekistanis were not focused on the effort. (28)

Beyond promoting increasing interoperability and integration with NATO, the WIF program offered the practical benefit of offering an additional source of funding, beyond CTR and Combatant Commander's Initiative Fund (CIF), for the military contact programs. This funding became available in 1996, with $1.125 million allocated for events with Kazakhstan, $25 thousand for Kyrgyzstan, $25 thousand for Turkmenistan, and $1.375 million for Uzbekistan allocated for that year.

Another source of funding for military contact events, known as the traditional commander in chief (CINC) activities (TCA) program, was initiated in 1996 specifically to support the foreign military interactions by the unified commanders. With certain restrictions, TCA funds could be used for:

* Military liaison teams

* Traveling contact teams

* State Partnership Programs

* Regional conferences and seminars

* Personnel and information exchanges

* Unit exchanges

* Staff assistance/assessment visits

* Training program review and assessments

* Ship rider programs

* Joint/Combined exercise observers

* Combined exercises

* Humanitarian civic assistance projects

* Bilateral staff talks

* Host nation medical and dental support meetings

* Guard and Reserve participation in these types of programs

* Program administration (29)

CTR and WIF, however, remained the most common sources of funding for military contact programs, and USCENTCOM, after it took over responsibility for the military contact program in Central Asia in 1999, seldom used TCA, reserving it for use with nations in the Middle East that were not eligible to receive CTR and WIF funding. (30)

In 1995, for the first time, the DOD developed bilateral annual military contact plans with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that attempted to capture all of the contact events scheduled for the following year. The number of events for each country grew dramatically as well. The program with Kazakhstan, for example, had 19 scheduled events for 1996, 26 for 1997, and 41 for 1998; for Uzbekistan 14, 18, and 39, respectively (table 5).

The plans do not tell the entire story, as some events each year were cancelled while others were added, but the growth in the program is evident. In August 1998, the US defense attache in Tashkent, for example, noted that while 17 events were actually conducted in 1995, 27 were conducted in 1996, and 54 events in 1998. (31) Unfortunately, few records were kept on the number, type, or details of the military contact events that were executed in these countries.

As these events were conducted by a variety of commands (USEUCOM, USPACOM, USACOM, USCENTCOM, and the national guards from the SPP states), there was little focus to the individual military contact plans. Kazakhstan, which had the largest quantity of military contact events from 1996 through 1999 (for which the planning was done in 1995 through 1998), also had the largest range of visits, covering 25 separate topics over the four year period. Many of these topics, including the counternarcotics, legal, military police, air traffic control, communications, chaplain, financial management, personnel management, public affairs, engineering, logistics, and transportation functional areas, had only a single information exchange visit, raising the question of how useful these visits were in practical terms of influencing the development of the Kazakhstani armed forces. However, three main themes for cooperation began to figure prominently in the military contact plans of these countries through this period: officer and non-commissioned officer professional development programs, civil-military cooperation in response to natural disasters, and military medical operations. These three themes accounted for over 40 percent of the military contact events conducted in Central Asia during this period. (32)

However, the military contacts program was not coming close to achieving its primary objective of democratizing the armed forces of the Central Asian states, and it is not clear that the US planners involved in developing the events recognized democratization as a goal. The Military Contacts Program is authorized under United States Code Title 10, Section 168, specifically states: "The Secretary of Defense may conduct military-to-military contacts and comparable activities that are designed to encourage a democratic orientation of defense establishments and military forces of other countries." (33) As de scribed by Dr. Marybeth Peterson Ulrich, "the legal basis of the program clearly supports military democratization activities aimed at influencing the ideological orientation of the participant states." Yet only about 40 percent of the planned contact events during this period could be considered as promoting a democratic orientation in this region. Surprisingly, almost 80 percent of those planned for Turkmenistan fall in this category (primarily because of the emphasis on events relating to civil-military responses to disasters), while the statistics for the other countries fall off dramatically: 53 percent in Kyrgyzstan, 40 percent in Kazakhstan, and 30 percent in Uzbekistan. (34)

Education and Training Programs

Commensurate with the expansion in military contacts was a vast expansion of the training and education programs, including increased attendance at the Marshall Center (which, incidentally, was included on the military contact plans for each country). Whereas only 14 individuals from Central Asia attended courses at the Marshall Center in 1994, on average 26 attended each year between 1995 and 1997, and 46 in 1998. (Many others attended shorter conferences at the Marshall Center.) The Marshall Center also began sponsoring conferences within the region that focused on democratization; the first of which was in Tashkent in August 1996 on "Democratic Oversight, Civil-Military Relations, and Regional Stability and Security in Central Asia" and the second in Almaty in December 1997.

Significant increases in IMET funding began in 1996. (35) IMET funding for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which totaled $370 thousand in 1995, more than tripled to $1.125 million in 1996, and grew steadily for the next several years. The State and Defense Departments continued to advocate for the IMET funding by stressing its role in promoting democratic reform in the region, arguing that the training provided by these funds would help establish military forces supportive of the "democratic and economic transition and committed to a durable pattern of cooperation with the West." Initially most of this funding continued to be used primarily for English language training, both for student attending follow-on courses and for training English language instructors, but the increased funding allowed Central Asian military officers to also attend courses in maritime search and rescue, military justice, defense resource management, and infantry training. (36) Central Asian officials were eager to take advantage of this opportunity; even Turkmenistani president Niyazov allowed one of his lieutenants to attend infantry officer training in the United States. (37)

Another of the important aspects of the expansion of the IMET program was having sufficient funding to allow offering seats to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan at US staff and war colleges. (38) Each of the US military services operates its own tiered educational system, known collectively as professional military education (PME), for the development of its officer corps, with specific schools and colleges for selected officers as they progress in rank. Initially, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were invited to attend the staff colleges for mid-grade officers (majors and lieutenant colonels, lieutenant commanders and commanders); the curriculum at these schools lasts a full academic year. The first Kazakhstani officers graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the College of Naval Command and Staff (CNSC) in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1997 and from the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in 1998; the first Uzbekistani officers graduated from ACSC in 1997 and CNSC in 1998 (table B.4, appendix B). These courses, although among the most expensive offered through the IMET program, are the best methods for providing professional education, appreciation of US perspectives on democratic principles, and exposure to American life because of their length, exposure to American military counterparts, and opportunities to live in American communities.

Expanded IMET Program

The continuing emphasis on using security cooperation program to promote democratic reform was encouraged by a modification to the IMET Program mandated by Congress in 1991. Known as Expanded IMET (E-IMET), it had two significant implications. First, training could be provided to civilian personnel outside of the ministries of defense whose duties include defense or security-related issues, such as individuals in the legislative branch or members of a nongovernmental organization. Second, a percentage of each country's IMET allocation was required to be used for courses that emphasized themes that supported democratization:

* Respect for democracy and civilian rule of law, including the principle of civilian control of the military

* Respect for internationally recognized standards of human rights

* Military justice systems in democratic societies

* Responsible defense resource management (39)

Some countries with poor human rights records, such as Indonesia and Guatemala, were permitted to take only courses that qualified under the E-IMET program (this restriction was lifted from Indonesia in 2005). Initially the requirement to use a certain percentage of funding on E-IMET courses was politically sensitive in some countries, but as a condition of receiving aid it proved very effective. After a few years it was dropped as increasing numbers of courses had their curriculums modified to qualify as E-IMET and as countries requested valued courses, such as attendance at staff and war colleges (described below), that met the criteria. Currently, security assistance program managers simply seek to find a balance between E-IMET courses and technical training, and E-IMET courses have consistently made up a significant portion of the education and training courses offered to the Central Asian military forces under the IMET program. Appendix D provides a listing of courses that qualify under the E-IMET Program.

The Expanded IMET program spawned institutes which offered programs specifically designed to meet the goals of promoting military justice systems, defense resource management, and civil-military relations. The Defense Institute for International Legal Studies (DIILS), which originated as the International Training Detachment of the Navy Justice School at Newport, Rhode Island, began providing courses named Disciplined Military Operations and Military Justice in Kazakhstan and

Uzbekistan, respectively, in 1996, and to date has trained over 400 students from Central Asia (table B.5, appendix B). The Defense Resource Management Institute (DRMI) at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, received its first in-residence students from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 1996, and subsequently trained a total of 87 students from the region through in-residence courses and mobile education teams (MET) (table B.6, appendix B). A third specialized institution, the Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR), also at the NPS, accepted its first students from Central Asia in 2003 (table B.7, appendix B).

Military Academies and Flight Training

Two other specialized training and education opportunities, not part of the IMET program, were also offered in Central Asia during this period: attendance at the military service academies and participation in flight training. In 1998 the United States invited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to nominate promising young individuals to attend the US service academies: the US Military Academy at West Point, New York; the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado. (40) The nominees were required to meet the same stringent physical and educational application requirements as US applicants to be selected. (Frequently foreign nominees are academically deficient because of the differences in education systems or due to poor English language skills.) There are nearly 10 thousand applicants each year for each academy, and less than 20 foreign students are admitted to each one. Foreign students are fully integrated into every aspect of the academy program and upon graduation are awarded a bachelor's degree and are expected to be commissioned in the armed forces of their parent nation.

Kyrgyzstan was the first to have a nominee selected--Cadet Marat Davletshin entered West Point in 1998 and graduated with the Class of 2002--and has been the most successful, with a total of five individuals accepted at three academies. Kyrgyzstan currently has two students at West Point, both of whom will graduate in 2008 and, despite a lack of a navy or a significant air force, a student at the US Naval Academy and one at the US Air Force Academy, both in the class of 2007. Kazakhstan has had two graduates from West Point (in 2004 and 2005), with another graduating in 2007 (table B.8, appendix B, and fig. 3). (41)

The second specialized training opportunity was the ALP, funded by the US Air Force through its normal operating budget. Established first in 1996, ALP offered a year of English language training followed by a year of flight training at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, in T-37 trainers, the same type of aircraft used by US Air Force pilots as they begin flight training. Upon graduation, the foreign officer is awarded US Air Force flight wings. Only 20 such invitations are extended to foreign air forces each year, and Uzbekistan was offered a slot in 1998. The ALP program was discontinued between 1999 and 2001 because the increased requirement for flight training quotas by the US Air Force left few available for optional security assistance programs, but when it resumed, invitations were offered to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (table B.9, appendix B).

Including the Central Asian states in these specialized, long duration, training and education opportunities such as the service academies and the ALP program, while supporting the objective of promoting democratization within the armed forces, had a secondary objective. These programs were considered to be long-term investments in the future military leadership of the armed forces of Central Asia. It was assumed that the US military education and training offered through the war colleges, academies, and flight training was so superior to other avenues that these young officers would quickly rise to positions of authority and influence as they progressed in their careers. In short, these programs specifically sought to groom future commanders of foreign militaries: "An ALP candidate should be a top graduate of the participating country's air force academy or other young officer with potential to achieve top leadership positions in their air force." (42) The experiences these foreign officers gained through their long study programs in the United States, side-by-side with young American military officers and cadets, would leave them with a fundamentally favorable perspective of the United States, and the personal friendships created through these two- and four-year programs would pay great benefits in future years when both the American and foreign officers reached higher positions.


Regional Cooperation

A key component of US policy in Central Asia in this period was reducing Russian influence and integrating Central Asia into Western economic and political structures, and the strategy used to achieve this goal was to increase the national sovereignty of the Central Asian states and promote regional cooperation among them. In this way, it was believed, each of the nations could individually and collectively oppose Russian pressures in political, economic, and security matters, while simultaneously advancing their own political and economic reforms. Regional cooperation became a new and important objective in US security cooperation programs.

US planners, searching for a means to put policy into action, turned to a new initiative--the Central Asian Battalion, or CENTRASBAT--a combined peacekeeping unit consisting of companies from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. From the US perspective, CENTRASBAT would provide an alternative to Russian predominance in managing regional crises and would give the Central Asian states a means to respond on their own. (43) Soon this unit and its related annual exercise would come to dominate US security cooperation efforts in the region.

Central Asian Battalion

In December 1995, the Council of Defense Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan proposed the creation of a combined peacekeeping battalion that could operate in UN-sponsored missions. This proposal was approved by the presidents of the three nations, and the concept was expanded to include requesting NATO assistance in training and equipping CENTRASBAT under the PfP program. (44)

With a strength of approximately 500 men, CENTRASBAT was to consist of a headquarters staff, three motorized rifle companies (one from each nation), reconnaissance and medical detachments, mortar and air defense batteries, and grenade launcher and engineering platoons. All elements of the unit, including those from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, were to be garrisoned at Zhibek-Zholy in the Chimkent region of Kazakhstan, near the border with Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan each contributed 40 percent and Kyrgyzstan 20 percent to the estimated $2 million annual cost of maintaining the unit. (45)

NATO did not rush to assist in the creation of the unit, but US officials were eager to get involved. CENTRASBAT offered several benefits. First, it could serve as a visible and active method for promoting regional cooperation, and it would help distance these nations from Russia. From the US perspective, even President Nazarbayev appeared to agree with this approach when he stated in May 1996 that the unit was not meant to support territorial claims against another nation, "but we don't want other states to have territorial claims against us." (46) Second, it would help provide a nexus to focus the expanding elements of US security cooperation programs. Third, following its experiences in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia, the United States was eager to train other nations to take over peacekeeping duties in troubled spots around the world. USACOM, which had already hosted Kyrgyz and Uzbek detachments at Fort Polk, Louisiana, for Cooperative Nugget 95, a peacekeeping and refugee assistance exercise, stepped forward to lead the US participation.

USACOM conducted two major CENTRASBAT exercises. The first started in August 1997 with detachments from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan undergoing airborne refresher training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. On 14 September, these 40 soldiers plus 500 members of the US 82d Airborne Division embarked on an 18-hour, 7,700 mile nonstop flight in six C-17 cargo aircraft from Pope AFB, North Carolina, to Chimkent, Kazakhstan, for the longest airborne drop in history. There they were joined by another 80 troops from Turkey and Russia, who also arrived directly from their home countries, and the 620 airborne troops, hit the landing zone within a short two-hour period. Marine Corps general John Sheehan, commander of USACOM, led the airborne drop as the first one out of the aircraft. On the ground, the forces practiced securing the Sairam airport against a simulated adversary. Joined by the remainder of the CENTRASBAT unit, they practiced peacekeeping skills such as controlling checkpoints, inspecting vehicles, providing humanitarian assistance, and maintaining separation zones. After two days of training, all but 120 of the US soldiers returned home, and the exercise shifted to Uzbekistan for the second stage, which consisted of additional peacekeeping training with Turkish, Russian, Latvian, and Georgian troops. (47)

CENTRABAT 97 served its purposes. First, it visibly demonstrated to Russia that the United States was engaging in a new, active role in promoting stability and security in Central Asia. General Sheehan emphasized both points when he remarked that the exercise indicates "the US interest that the Central Asian states live in stability," and the fact that "there is no nation on the face of the earth where we can't go." (48) These sentiments were not lost in Moscow. In less than a week, the Russian State Duma issued a statement condemning the exercise, claiming: "Under the guise of statements on the peacekeeping nature of such maneuvers, the US Armed Forces are intensively developing new potential theaters of military actions in the immediate vicinity of Russia's frontiers. It cannot be ruled out that in the course of such long-range troop landings, a possible landing of US Army units on Russian territory is also being developed." (49)

CENTRASBAT 97 also demonstrated to the Central Asian leaders that mutual cooperation can bring results. Sheehan laid the credit directly at their doors: "Three years ago, people said this type of operation was not possible. I say, look at what is happening today. It did happen, because the three presidents [of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan] wanted it to happen, and the three ministers [of defense] made it happen." (50)

But CENTRASBAT 97 also carried with it the seeds of its own demise. The exercise scenario was artificially constructed to include the first stage in Kazakhstan and the second in Uzbekistan to avoid slighting one of the two major participants. Seeking balance, or at least avoiding the appearance of favoritism, became a fundamental rule for US planners. The exercise also included elaborate opening and closing ceremonies which tended to overshadow the more mundane training aspects. In time, CENTRASBAT would become more of a showcase unit and exercise rather than one preparing for potential combat or peacekeeping operations. And while the Central Asians were generally enthusiastic participants, even to the point of painting their vehicles white with big blue UN markings, American observers were disappointed in their skills and concluded it would be years before CENTRASBAT became a viable unit. Retired US Army major general James Johnson, then serving as DOD's military representative to Central Asia, remarked: "As far as it went, the training conducted for this exercise was good, but it didn't teach proficiency. The 82d's training doctrine is to teach soldiers to crawl, walk, and run. Here, they are learning to crawl and beginning to walk, but they aren't learning to run. That's going to take a lot more time." (51) It is not clear, however, that this assessment was ever passed to the ministers of defense of the Central Asian states, and their frustration with the slow progress of the unit would soon become evident.

USACOM repeated the exercise in September 1998, this time with 259 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, New York, and 272 members of CENTRASBAT. Another 200 soldiers from Turkey, Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan also participated in the peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance exercise. Again, the exercise was split, starting at the CENTRASBAT garrison in Zhibek-Zholy in Kazakhstan, moving to Chirchik in Uzbekistan for seminars, and then to Osh in Kyrgyzstan for field training (fig.4). Notably, the Kazakhs angered their Uzbek hosts by conducting their airborne drop ahead of schedule. (52)


Multilateral and Bilateral Exercises

CENTRASBAT was not the only exercise used to promote regional cooperation. The United States also invited these nations to a series of multilateral exercises it had been conducting under NATO's PfP program. As mentioned above, in August 1995, even before formal military cooperation programs had been established with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, platoons from those two countries were invited to Fort Polk, Louisiana, to participate in Cooperative Nugget 95, a peacekeeping and refugee assistance exercise. Along with being the first PfP exercise held in the United States, Cooperative Nugget 95 was the first time US and Central Asian troops had trained together in a combined exercise. The following year, a platoon from Kazakhstan's CENTRASBAT element joined them at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for a peacekeeping and amphibious assault exercise called Cooperative Osprey 96. These exercises, conducted by USACOM, soon became a routine part of the growing military cooperation program during this period, and the three nations generally sent elements of their CENTRASBAT unit to participate. All three nations returned to Fort Polk in June-July 1997 for Cooperative Nugget 97 and then again to Camp Lejeune in June 1998 for Cooperative Osprey 98. The Central Asian states also participated in NATO PfP exercises sponsored by USEUCOM; including the communications and information systems interoperability exercise Combined Endeavor 98 in Sembach, Germany. These exercises offered the Central Asian states opportunities to train with other NATO nations as well as work together in a relatively benign training environment. (Kazakhstan was to participate in the Combined Endeavor exercise each year thereafter.) (53)

Concurrent with these multilateral exercises, but not directly designed to promote regional cooperation, the United States also began a series of bilateral special operations forces exercises (SOFEX) with the special forces of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. (54) As Central Asia was not assigned to any of the regional unified commands, US Special Operations Command, Pacific (USSOCPAC) in Hawaii initiated the program, turning to its 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) at Fort Lewis, Washington, for the personnel. This was an unusual choice, as the 1st SFG's skills include Asian languages such as Korean, Chinese, or Japanese, rather than Russian, Uzbek, or Kazakh, but it reflects the challenge of establishing a new program and the multiple commands operating in the region during this period. Balance Kayak exercises were held in Kazakhstan in August 1996, June 1997, August 1998, and spring 1999, focusing primarily on combat medical training and civic action. Balance Ultra exercises were held in Uzbekistan in autumn 1996, June 1997, September 1998, and June 1999 in the Ferghana Valley, and focused on combat medical training and mountain training. In 1999 US forces planned to expand the program to Turkmenistan with a counter-drug exercise using personnel from the 5th SFG at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, subordinate to US Special Operations Command, Central (USSOCCENT), but it is not clear whether this exercise ever took place. (55)

Equipment Transfers

The emphasis on the CENTRASBAT unit, peacekeeping operations, and NATO interoperability through the PfP program also opened the door to the first set of military equipment transfers from the DOD to the armed forces of Central Asia. (56) Under certain conditions governed by the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) of 1976, and the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), foreign military forces are permitted to purchase defense goods from the United States via the FMS program. On 19 March 1997, President Clinton issued Presidential Determination 97-19 authorizing Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to use the FMS program--and, except for Tajikistan, the last of the post-Soviet states to gain this approval. As for all countries, however, this authorization was not a carte blanche--all requests for military equipment were carefully controlled by DOD and DOS, with significant Congressional oversight on major weapon sales. Simultaneous with the Presidential Determination, the State Department requested Congress authorize FMF grant funds in 1997 for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to purchase US defense goods and services. The State Department justified this request by linking it with the missions of the CENTRASBAT unit: "to enhance ... capability to operate jointly with NATO forces in peacekeeping, search and rescue, humanitarian and other operations," a rationale that stayed consistent for the next several years. (57)

In 1997 the first year FMF was authorized for Central Asia, Kazakhstan received $1.5 million; Kyrgyzstan, $800 thousand; Turkmenistan, $500 thousand; and Uzbekistan, $1 million. In 1998 these amounts increased by about 50 percent, and then stabilized for the next several years (table A.6 and fig. A.5, appendix A). In 1998 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were also authorized to receive surplus US military equipment at no cost through the Euro-Atlantic Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. (58) The provision of FMF and the authorization for EDA, however, did not lead to immediate deliveries. It would take several more years before US military equipment began arriving in Central Asia.

Reaching the Summit

From 1995 to 1998, US security cooperation objectives in Central Asia expanded; while some become more diffused, others became more focused. The major programs for denuclearization were completed in Kazakhstan and efforts to address proliferation and export control issues began. US efforts to promote democratization became somewhat more focused during this period, with military contact events and education programs starting to focus on defense resource management and officer and noncommissioned officer professional development, particularly in Kazakhstan. And only in Kazakhstan, however, was this objective formally stated in the planning documents. But the military contact program also became much more diffuse, with multiple commands executing events across a broad range of topic areas. And despite the fact that both the military contact program and the training and education programs were justified as promoting the democratization of the armed forces in Central Asia, there was little evidence that US security-cooperation planners saw themselves in that role and actively pursued that fairly vague objective, except in the case of defense resource management and officer and noncommissioned officer professional development. Likewise, US and Central Asian forces began to exercise together in both multilateral and bilateral forums, including in the hallmark annual CEN TRASBAT event, and the United States initiated the FMF and EDA programs to offer military equipment to these nations. The rapid growth in security cooperation programs appeared to be having some impact, but the Central Asian states were still waiting for the true benefits to appear.

This growth, however, must be put into context. Central Asia remained strategically unimportant in US security cooperation planning, greatly overshadowed by larger and more complex programs conducted in other regions such as Eastern Europe. The US military planned approximately 100 military contact events with Kazakhstan from the beginning of the program through 1998, while it planned almost 700 events with the Czech Republic in essentially the same period. (59) The State Department provided just over $4 million in IMET funding from 1996 to 1998 to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, a combined total of only 80 percent of what was provided to the three Baltic States during the same period. Likewise, FMF funding in the same period totaled $9.4 million for the four nations, roughly equivalent to what was offered to Uganda. Despite the relative expansion of the programs compared to what had been conducted through 1995, Central Asia remained a backwater in US security cooperation efforts.

Michael J. McCarthy

Lieutenant Colonel, USAF


(1.) Kazakhstan, 63-64 (see chap. 2, note 3).

(2.) A National Security Strategy, 9-10 (see chap. 2, note 1).

(3.) A National Security Strategy for a New Century (Washington, DC: The White House, 1997), 8.

(4.) Stephen Blank, "The United States and Central Asia," in Central Asian Security: The New International Context, edited by Roy Allison and Lena Jonson

(Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2001), 130-31.

(5.) Marina Pikulina, Uzbekistan in the Mirror of Military Security: A Historical Preface to Current Events (Surrey, United Kingdom: The Conflict Studies Research Centre), 1999, 1-3.

(6.) Kazakhstan established its Ministry of Defense in May 1992, Kyrgyzstan in August 1993, Tajikistan in December 1992, Turkmenistan in July 1992, and Uzbekistan in early 1992. Susan Clark, "The Central Asian States: Defining Security Priorities and Developing Military Forces," in Central Asia and the World: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, ed. Michael Mandelbaum, (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1994), 206.

(7.) Author with Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), correspondence, February 2006.

(8.) The Defense Attache Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, was established in January 1994; in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in November 1995; in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in February 1997; in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in July 1997, and in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in October 1997 (Although, the attache for Tajikistan was normally based in Almaty and traveled to Tajikistan on an irregular basis with an armed escort.) Author with DIA, correspondence, April 2006.

(9.) Frederick Starr, "Making Eurasia Stable," Foreign Affairs 74, no. 1 (January/February 1996), 85.

(10.) Shahram Akbarzadeh, Uzbekistan and the United States: Authoritarianism, Islamism, & Washington's Security Agenda (New York: Zed Books, 2005), 62-65.

(11.) From 1995 to 1999, Kazakhstan received $1.844 million in IMET

funds, $5.550 million in FMF, and four war college slots; Uzbekistan received $1.657 million in IMET, $4.200 million in FMF, and three war college slots. Only in one area did Uzbekistan receive more than Kazakhstan: Tashkent was offered an Aviation Leadership Program scholarship in 1998. See tables A.1-A.6, appendix A.

(12.) Turkmenistan would eventually sign a similar, although much shorter and vaguer, "Joint Statement on the Results of US-Turkmenistani Defense Consultations" in April 1998; the United States and Kyrgyzstan never established a framework agreement. Director of Strategy and Plans, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Planning Reference Book, 2000 Joint Chiefs of Staff/Office of the Secretary of Defense Planning Conference for the NIS [newly independent states] Peacetime Engagement, Washington, DC, June 1999.

(13.) Formerly the Defense Nuclear Agency.

(14.) Rueckert, On-Site Inspection, 170 (see chap. 2, note 2); and Harahan and Bennett, Creating the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, 10-12 (see chap. 2, note 2).

(15.) Rueckert, On-Site Inspection, 184 (see chap. 2, note 2); and Trip Report, Central Asia Orientation Visit, Maj Michael J. McCarthy, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) Directorate of Intelligence, 31 July 1998. Of note, Col Assylbek Mendygaliev, who was the director of the Kazakhstani Center for Arms Reduction in 1998 during the first official USCENTCOM visit to the region, is now the defense attache of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Washington, DC.

(16.) Daughtry, "Forging Relationships," 330-33 (see chap. 2, note 4).

(17.) Kazakhstan Port Engineering Infrastructure Survey, (Stuttgart, Germany: US Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Programs Center, Europe, 1996), 1.

(18.) Cooperative threat reduction (CTR) funds continued to be used for these programs until 1997, at which time Congress appropriated separate funding accounts. "Interdicting Nuclear Smuggling: International Counterproliferation Program," Nuclear Threat Initiative, cnwm/interdicting/index.asp; Daughtry, "Forging Relationships," 326-27 (see chap. 2, note 4); and "Cooperative Threat Reduction Assistance to Kazakhstan," (see chap. 2, note 12).

(19.) Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to the NIS, U.S. Government Assistance to and Cooperative Activities with the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, FY2000 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2001), 239-40; and "Interdicting Nuclear Smuggling (see chap. 3, note 18).

(20.) Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to the NIS, U.S. Government Assistance To and Cooperative Activities with the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, FY2000 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2001), 240, Appendix 1; Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to the NIS, U.S. Government Assistance To and Cooperative Activities with the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, FY2001 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2002), 260, Appendix 1; Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to the NIS, U.S. Government Assistance To and Cooperative Activities with the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, FY2002 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2003), Appendix 1; Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to the NIS, U. S. Government Assistance To and Cooperative Activities with the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, FY2003 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2004), 240, Appendix 1; Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to the NIS, U.S. Government Assistance To and Cooperative Activities with the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, FY2004 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Department of State, 2005), Appendix 1.

(21.) Author with Defense Threat Reduction Agency, correspondence, April 2006.

(22.) Of interest, USEUCOM also attempted to establish relationships using units from the Army Reserve, thereby increasing both the bilateral ties and the units available for military contact events. Kazakhstan was partnered with the 63d Army Reserve Command (63d ARCOM), which consisted of reserve combat service and combat service support units in California, Arizona, and Nevada. That relationship apparently never developed, as there is no indication that the 63d ARCOM played a role in the military contact events of the mid-to-late 1990s and is not part of the current program. Cossaboom, The Joint Contact Team Program, 19-20 (see chap. 2, note 11).

(23.) John R. Groves Jr., "PfP and the State Partnership Program: Fostering Engagement and Progress," Parameters XXIX, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 43-53.

(24.) The Partnership for Peace, NATO, index.html (accessed 22 March 2006).

(25.) Robin Bhatty and Rachel Bronson, "NATO's Mixed Signals in the Caucasus and Central Asia," Survival 42, no. 3 (Autumn 2000), 132-33.

(26.) Jennifer D. P. Moroney, "Building Security in Central Asia: A Multilateral Perspective," in In the Tracks of Tamerlane: Central Asia's Path to the 21st Century, ed. Daniel L. Burghart and Theresa Sabonis-Helf (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2004), 348-49.

(27.) The total amount of $100 million for the Warsaw Initiative Fund (WIF) program in 1996 was split between the budgets of the Departments of State and Defense. In a bureaucratic slight-of-hand, the State Department recoded $60 million of FMF funds already designated for these nations as its contribution to WIF, so only the $40 million from the Defense Department were actually new funds. Director of Strategy and Plans, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Planning Reference Book, 1999 Joint Chiefs of Staff Planning Conference for the NIS Peacetime Engagement, Washington, DC, May 1998; and Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 12).

(28.) Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 12); and author with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, correspondence, September 2005 and March 2006; and "DRMS Participants," DRMS, [Defense Resource Management Studies] .htm (accessed 16 April 2006).

(29.) OSD, talking paper, traditional combatant commander activities (TCA) funding summary, 3 June 1999; Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 12).

(30.) The military contact programs use Combatant Commander's Initiative Fund less frequently through this period and not at all by 1998. Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 12).

(31.) Trip Report (see chap. 3, note 15).

(32.) Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 32).

(33.) United States Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Part I, Chap. 6, Section 168. Military-to-military contacts and comparable activities, .edu/uscode/html/uscode10/usc_sec_10_00000168----000-.html.

(34.) I am indebted to Dr. Marybeth Peterson Ulrich for this methodology, who used it with much greater skill and effect in her book Democratizing Communist Militaries (see chap. 2, note 8). Data derived from Bilateral Military Contact Plans (see chap. 3, note 31).

(35.) IMET funding had dropped dramatically in 1994 and 1995 for all countries; total funding for 1995 was only $26.350, million, a 43 percent reduction from the 1988-1993 median of $46.100 million. Cope, International Military Education and Training, 13-14 (see chap. 2, note 14).

(36.) Congressional Presentation, 320-25, 367-68, 373-74 (see chap. 2, note 18); Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 1997 (Washington, DC: Department of State, 1997), 332-39, 350-51, 357-59; and Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 1998 (Washington, DC: Department of State, 1998), 605-10, 620-22, 627-29.

(37.) "Turkmenistan: Military Officers to Receive Training in U.S.," Moscow Interfax, 10 February 1996; and author with Defense Language Institute English Language Center, correspondence, November 2005.

(38.) The US military professional military education (PME) system generally has three levels, one each for junior officers (captains), mid-grade officers (majors), and senior officers (lieutenant colonels and colonels), although this varies somewhat by service. In most cases, the institutions at each level are designated as colleges and are grouped into a single university for each service, with joint colleges grouped under the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. Although some Central Asian officers have attended the junior-level PME colleges (most often the US Air Force Squadron Officers College at Maxwell AFB, AL), this discussion focuses on Central Asian attendance at the mid-grade and senior-grade colleges. For ease of discussion, the term "war college" will be used throughout this paper.

(39.) Cope, International Military Education and Training, 6 (see chap. 2, note 14).

(40.) Attendance at the service academies cannot be funded using the IMET program, but generally DOD will waive the tuition costs given the economic conditions in these countries.

(41.) Author with Service Academy Exchange Program Coordinator, correspondence, US Military Academy, 16 February 2006; Author with Service Academy Exchange Program Coordinator, correspondence, US Naval Academy, 13 February 2006; and Author with Service Academy Exchange Program Coordinator, correspondence, US Air Force Academy, 13 February 2006.

(42.) Air Force Instruction 16-108, Managing the Aviation Leadership Program, 1 September 1995, 4.

(43.) Neil MacFarlane, Western Engagement in the Caucasus and Central Asia (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1999), 53.

(44.) "CENTRASBAT,", military/ops/centrasbat.htm (accessed 6 January 2006); and "Central Asian Military Unit Nears Birth," The Jamestown Foundation Monitor 2, Issue 89 (7 May 1996), 20&issue_id=1061&article_id=9869 (accessed 29 January 2006).

(45.) Pikulina, Uzbekistan in the Mirror of Military Security, 8 (see chap. 3, note 5); and "Central Asian Military Unit Nears Birth," (see chap. 3, note 45).

(46.) "Central Asian Military Unit Nears Birth," (see chap. 3, note 45).

(47.) "CENTRASBAT," (see chap. 3, note 45); Douglas J. Gillert, "After Jumping, Battalion Learns to Crawl," American Forces Press Service News Articles, 1 October 1997, ?id=41525 (accessed 17 March 2006); Linda D. Kozaryn, "Parachutes Ready: Next Stop Kazakhstan," American Forces Press Service News Articles, 3 September 1997, (accessed 17 March 2006); "Historic U.S.-Led Military Exercise Begins," The Jamestown Foundation Monitor 3, no. 172 (17 September 1997), http://www article_id=2653 (accessed 10 February 2006); "Uzbekistan: Uzbek President Calls Military Exercise 'Historic Event'," Moscow Interfax, 19 September 1997; and "Uzbekistan: Military Exercises End, Defense Minister Comments," Moscow ITAR-TASS, 20 September 1997.

(48.) "Historic U.S.-Led Military Exercise Begins," (see chap. 3, note 48).

(49.) "Russia: Duma Criticizes Government Over US Exercises in CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] States," Moscow Interfax, 26 September 1997.

(50.) Gillert, "After Jumping, Battalion Learns to Crawl," (see chap. 3, note 48).

(51.) Ibid.

(52.) "CENTRASBAT,", (see chap. 3, note 45); "Kazakhstan: Almaty Conference Prepares for NATO Peacekeeping Exercise," Moscow Interfax, 5 February 1998; and Lyle J. Goldstein, "Making the Most of Central Asian Partnerships," Joint Forces Quarterly, no. 31 (Summer 2002), 83.

(53.) Kenley Butler, "U.S. Military Cooperation with the Central Asian States," Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 17 September 2001, http://cns %2Fhtdocs%2Fresearch%2Fwtc01 %2Fuscamil. htm&queryzip=Kenley+Butler &Collection=CNS+Web+Site (accessed 17 February 2006); "Cooperative Nugget 95 Closing Ceremony," Department of Defense News Release no. 467-95, 24 August 1995, id=602 (accessed 12 February 2006); Memorandum For Correspondents 088-m, "Exercise Cooperative Nugget '97 Scheduled," 29 May 1997, http://www.defense (accessed 12 February 2006); and "CIS: Central Asian Battalion to Participate in NATO Exercises," Moscow Interfax, 7 August 1996.

(54.) Some sources identify the Balance Kayak and Balance Ultra exercises as part of the joint combined exchange training (JCET) program, but they were not. These events, and others conducted in the region during this period, were special operations forces exercises (SOFEX), which were conducted by the special operations component command within the theater (first US Special Operations Command, Pacific, and later US Special Operations Command Central), and in the case of Central Asia, were funded through the CTR program. (Although in more recent years counternarcotics funding has been used.) On the other hand, the JCET program, established in 1991, was de signed to provide an opportunity for US special forces units to hone their own skills in a foreign environment similar to one in which they may conduct future operations. JCET events (which are technically not exercises) have the additional but secondary benefit of providing training to the host nation. Details on JCETs are usually classified, so it is impossible to assemble a complete picture of the program in Central Asia. Other special operations units, such as the US Air Force's 6th Special Operations Squadron, may have also conducted SOFEXs or JCETs in Central Asia during this period. Author interviews at USCENTCOM, September 2005; author with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, correspondence, April 2006; and author with USCENTCOM, correspondence, April 2006.

(55.) Col Shamil' Gareyev, "Military Cooperation: Uzbekistan and the U.S.A." Asia-Pacific Defense Forum (Winter 1997), winter_97/UZBEK_r.html (accessed 10 February 2006); Col S. A. Zhasuzakov, "JCET Balance Kayak 97--Kazakhstan and the U.S.: Training Together," Asia-Pacific Defense Forum (Summer 1998), Summer_98/KAYAK_r.html (accessed 10 February 2006); "Uzbekistan: U.S. General Expected in Tashkent Today," Moscow Interfax, 6 June 1997; Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 12); and Director of Strategy and Plans (see chap. 3, note 28).

(56.) The provision of the patrol boats to the Kazakhstani Customs Service in 1995-1996 under the CTR program did not fall under the FMS program as the Boston Whalers and Sea Arc were considered commercially-available civilian equipment rather than military equipment, and therefore not subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, US Department of State, International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR),

(57.) Identical language is used in the FMF justifications for Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 1997 (Washington, DC: Department of State, 1996), 334, 338, 351, 359.

(58.) Author with the Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance for Europe and Eurasia, US Department of State, correspondence, March 2006; and Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 1999 (Washington, DC: Department of State, 1998), 1006.

(59.) Ulrich, Democratizing Communist Militaries, 189-203 (see chap. 2, note 8).

Chapter 4


The goal of U.S. policy in Central Asia would be not to dominate the region, but to make it free of other powers' domination, thus making it possible for the five Central Asian states to become stable and peaceful. In other words, instead of dominating Central Asia, the United States would be satisfied to see it as a no-man's land.

--Dr. Eugene B. Rumer, National Defense University, Washington, DC

By 1999, the dramatic increase in security-cooperation programs reached a plateau. The foundations of US security-cooperation efforts with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan had been established, and the programs proceeded for the next few years without significant changes. The contact programs had reached a sustainable level of interaction between the partner militaries, although coordinating the events was beginning to tax the resources of the US defense attaches in the region. US special operations forces were routinely conducting small but focused training exercises with their counterparts. The four nations were receiving modest levels of IMET and FMF funding for training and equipment. Improving the capabilities of the CENTRASBAT unit provided the focus for many of the programs, and its annual exercise served as the centerpiece of the US security-cooperation efforts. In the words of Kyrgyz defense minister Lt Gen Esen Topoyev, meeting with US Marine Corps general Anthony Zinni, commander of USCENTCOM, in the spring of 2000, the relationship "had acquired a continual and steady nature." (1) In total, these programs were very modest compared to US efforts in other regions, but seemed sufficient for the limited interests Washington had in the region. But other geopolitical currents began to unsettle the ties that had been built; all participants were beginning to reexamine the newer, stronger, relationships and reevaluate whether these linkages were meeting their objectives.

Roots of Reassessment

This period of reassessment was most evident in US-Uzbekistani relations, and it derived from Washington's increasing concerns over Pres. Islam Abdughanievich Karimov's growing authoritarianism. Since Uzbekistan's independence in 1991, the Karimov regime has been noted for its systematic abuse of human rights in attempts to eliminate opposition and maintain political stability. Both the Clinton administration and Congress were becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress on political and economic reform and the abysmal state of human rights. But, by the late 1990s, the persecution of the relatively moderate opposition groups and increasing instances of "harassment, arrests, beatings, and attempted assassinations," fostered the creation of more radical groups. (2)

In February 1999 Tashkent was rocked by a series of explosions set off by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a militant Islamic group that sought to establish a caliphate based in the Ferghana Valley. The Uzbekistani government reacted strongly to the bombings, seeing them both as an attempt to assassinate Karimov (who was traveling by car nearby) and to overthrow the government. The bombings were followed by an IMU invasion of the Batken Valley in Kyrgyzstan in 1999, and a second invasion in 2000. Along with military operations coordinated with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan stepped up its internal repressive measures and human rights abuses. (3)

The United States reacted with mixed signals. At USCENTCOM (which had recently assumed responsibility for the region), General Zinni sought to increase military engagement programs in order to try to influence the Karimov regime, but the Clinton administration and State Department were unwilling to expand the security-cooperation activities for fear of being seen as rewarding repressive regimes. (4) Visiting officials routinely lectured Karimov on the importance of respecting human rights, but took little other action. (5) Trying to balance the competing aims of security and promoting human rights, Washington neither expanded the cooperation programs nor reduced them; instead, it maintained them at a level that ensured it could not accomplish any of its strategic objectives. It also demonstrated to Karimov that he could safely ignore American pressures to improve Uzbekistan's internal political situation and that he could not rely on the United States to satisfy his fundamental security concerns.

The IMU invasions in 1999 and 2000 also undermined US efforts to promote regional security cooperation. While Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan made some attempts to coordinate their military response to the incursions, the first three did not use the joint CENTRASBAT unit to counter the threat, and instead used other national forces. The states then began a series of mutual recriminations, blaming each other for conditions that permitted the attacks. Uzbekistan also established minefields along its border with Kyrgyzstan to prevent future attacks through that country, which dramatically reduced cross-border trade and resulted in several deaths. Both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan had been concerned about the growth in Uzbekistan's military capabilities, and now both began to see Tashkent as a possible future threat. US efforts to promote regional cooperation through programs began to meet with resistance, as the fundamental distrust between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan began to overshadow the modest attempts at collaboration. (6)

Washington was also reassessing its relationship with Almaty. Kazakhstan may have adopted some of the trappings of democracy, but had never implemented them in practice. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) considered the March 1994 parliamentary elections neither "free nor fair," and by the middle of 1995 Nazarbayev had dissolved the parliament, instituted presidential rule, and adopted a new constitution which gave him far-reaching powers. But, until the late 1990s the Clinton administration still hoped that these trends could be reversed. The January 1999 presidential elections and the October 1999 parliamentary elections, both of which were orchestrated by Nazarbayev to ensure favorable results, were seen as final death blows to any efforts toward democratic reform. Instead of offering congratulations, Clinton's post-election letter to Nazarbayev recommended that "a deeper commitment by Kazakhstan to democracy and market reform" would be "very important" for both Kazakhstan and bilateral relations. (7) Nazarbayev rejected the recommendation because he considered it inap propriate and threatening to his hold on power. In April 2000 at the Eurasian Economic Summit, he declared "We in Central Asia are not going to blindly run for [all] our worth after the United States in the issues of democratizing our countries." (8)

In Washington's view, Kazakhstan appeared to be backsliding on cooperation in security issues as well. In March 1999 senior Kazakh defense officials, including Minister of Defense Altynbayev, were implicated in a scheme to smuggle MiG-21 fighter aircraft to North Korea. Altynbayev was removed from office, but in November 1999 a similar episode led to the dismissal of his successor, acting Minister of Defense Bakhytzhan Ertaev, and head of the National Security Council Nurtai Abukaev. Although Almaty removed the offending leaders, they were not severely punished (and Altynbayev returned later as Minister of Defense). Both sides recognized these events severely strained US-Kazakhstani relations. Foreign Minister Kaymzhomart Tokaev remarked: "We used to be very good partners. Big damage has been brought to our cooperation. I as Foreign Minister understand the seriousness of the situation. We are ready to do our part." (9) Washington curtailed many of its security-assistance programs, and some military aid packages were completely cancelled.

Washington was also concerned about the continual backsliding on democratic reform in Kyrgyzstan. Pres. Askar Akayev, the darling of Western observers, in the early 1990s when he instituted a broad set of political and economic reform initiatives, had slowly increased his personal control over the Kyrgyz government, reduced the role of civil society, and clamped down on his political opposition. In 1998, presidential pressure convinced the constitutional court that Akayev was eligible to run for president for a third time in 2000, sidestepping the constitutional clause that permits only two terms by claiming the first, which started before independence, did not count. Parliamentary elections in 2000 fell short of international standards, and the presidential elections the same year were worse. Kyrgyzstan was clearly backsliding on democratic reform. (10)

Struggling with the competing interests of influencing these regimes through military cooperation, while trying to punish them for violating human rights, the Clinton administration tried to walk a fine line in the 1999 National Security Strategy: "With countries that are neither staunch friends nor known foes, military cooperation can serve as a positive means of building security relationships today that will contribute to improved relations tomorrow. At the same time, we will remain firmly committed to ensure that we do not train or assist known human rights violators." (11)

Denuclearization and Proliferation Prevention

Despite the leveling off of security-cooperation programs and setbacks caused by political events, two organizational changes brought new structure, focus, and objectives to the US security-cooperation efforts in Central Asia: the establishment of the DTRA and the assignment of the Central Asian states under the Unified Command Plan to USCENTCOM. Additionally, the creation of the Central Asia Border Security Initiative (CASI) in April 2000 marked the first attempt to synchronize security-cooperation programs across departments within the federal government.

A series of terrorist attacks in 1995, including the Aum Shinrikyo use of sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system in March and the Oklahoma City bombing in April, deeply influenced Senator William S. Cohen's thinking on the nature of future threats against the United States. When he became secretary of defense in 1997, Cohen argued that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their potential use by terrorists was the most important security challenge faced by America. In a major reorganization that took affect in October 1998, he combined the OSIA, DSWA, Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA), CTR, and chemical/biological defense programs previously executed by OSD into a new organization, the DTRA. (12) The reorganization placed greater emphasis on proliferation prevention, by ensuring that chemical, biological, and nuclear materials and technology did not get passed from the former Soviet Union to states or terrorist organizations that might use them against the United States, linking (but not integrating) the biological and chemical weapons elimination programs conducted under CTR and the border security programs under the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP).

The merging of these organizations did not have an immediate effect on the execution of the proliferation prevention programs in Central Asia, which, like the other security-cooperation efforts, experienced a general slowdown during this period. DTRA continued slow but steady efforts via the CTR program to eliminate nuclear weapons infrastructure in Kazakhstan and the biological and chemical weapons facilities in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. DTRA officials managing ICP attempted to expand the program into Tajikistan and Turkmenistan with no success; delegations from both countries attended a WMD executive seminar in May 2001 but otherwise shunned the program. There were no ICP activities in Kyrgyzstan, and those in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan stalled. Funding dipped in 2000 and only 12 training events occurred between 1999-2001, compared to 19 between 1996-1998. (13) Despite these setbacks, the proliferation prevention programs began to show some modest results. In early 2000, a shipment of 10 lead-lined boxes containing radioactive material was stopped by Uzbekistani officials at the border with Kazakhstan using a $1,200 detection device provided by the ICP, and the following year Kazakhstani officials who had received ICP training in 1998 seized another illegal shipment. (14)

The ICP was one of several programs executed in Central Asia by the United States that were designed to improve border security capabilities in these countries. For most of the 1990s, these programs had been relatively small and independently managed. The IMU invasions in 1999, however, prompted Clinton administration officials to try to link these programs together to better meet this regional threat. In April 2000, during a tour of Central Asia, Secretary of State Madeline Albright announced the new CASI that encompassed six assistance programs, including EXBS, ICP, and other counterterrorism, counternarcotics (CN), law enforcement, and customs reform efforts, that had been designed to improve border security operations. ICP was the only DOD program under CASI, and it is unclear whether the subsequent funding increases in later years was as a result of this connection. But, CASI marked the first real attempt to harmonize these programs across federal agencies. (15)


As with the consolidation of denuclearization and proliferation prevention programs under DTRA, changes in the unified command structure centralized the programs that promoted military democratization and regional cooperation. As previously indicated, Central Asia had remained a responsibility of the Joint Staff, and a number of commands were conducting military cooperation activities in the region. USCENTCOM began to take a more active role in the region starting in early 1997 and was ready to assume control of the security-cooperation efforts when the decision was publicly announced in February 1998. (16) In fact, in July 1998 General Zinni, who became the commander of USCENTCOM in August 1997, hosted General Altynbayev, minister of defense of Kazakhstan, the first senior military officer from Central Asia to visit CENTCOM in Tampa, Florida. (17) General Zinni was a strong proponent of increased engagement with Central Asia, advocating that the region's energy resources and potential instability from terrorism, drug trafficking, and corruption (largely stemming from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan) made these countries "front line states." (18) General Zinni made his first trip to Central Asia in September 1998, a year before USCENTCOM officially assumed full responsibility for the region, and made a total of five trips before his retirement in the summer of 2000. (19)

USCENTCOM's assumption of responsibility for the region brought greater structure to the security-cooperation programs. Secretary of Defense William Cohen had directed each regional commander to create theater engagement plans, outlining how they intended to create positive and constructive relationships with the friendly military forces in their respective areas of responsibility. General Zinni leveraged this effort to create the first US military strategy for Central Asia. He recognized that USCENTCOM was institutionally focused on the continual confrontation with Iraq, and any remaining attention was devoted to planning for a potential conflict with Iran. To avoid other important but less critical efforts being overlooked, General Zinni divided Central Command's area of responsibility into four separate subregions: East Africa, Persian Gulf, Egypt and Jordan, and South and Central Asia (the latter of which included Afghanistan and Pakistan). Although there were many issues that crossed boundaries, each subregion had unique challenges and required specific strategies. General Zinni understood the long-term imperative of building security relationships in Central Asia, as reflected in his strategy: "the importance of the South and Central Asian subregion will continue to grow as the economies of these countries and access to the subregion's natural resources develop." (20) General Zinni also assigned each subregion to one of his subordinate commanders; USSOCCENT was tasked to act as the lead agency for building relationships with South and Central Asia. (21)

Military Contact Program and Education and Training Programs

Despite the new strategy, there was little immediate change in the military contact or training and education programs. USCENTCOM exercised influence over the development of the 1999 plan and had complete authority over the development of the 2000 plan. USACOM, USPACOM, and USEUCOM (with the exception of the Marshall Center) withdrew from participating in military contact events in Central Asia. Nonetheless, the military contact programs continued to emphasize largely the same functional areas as before, including officer and noncommissioned officer professional development, medical information exchanges, and civil-military responses to environmental disasters. The notable exception was an increase in senior-leader and staff-exchange visits to Central Asia, a reflection of USCENTCOM's efforts to become more familiar with the region. But the military planners also started to propose, plan, and execute events that built on the experiences of previous events, rather than simply repeat an exchange or offer an event on a completely new topic. This trend is particularly evident in officer and non-commissioned officer development, civil-military responses to environmental disasters, defense resource management, and defense planning. Additionally, in 1999 and 2000 USCENTCOM planned 21 events with the CENTRASBAT elements of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan on peacekeeping and search and rescue as a means to help prepare these detachments for the annual CENTRASBAT exercise. (22)

IMET funding was advocated by the State Department generally using the same arguments, although regional stability and cooperation began to gain equal billing with democratization. IMET funding and the number of students trained remained consistent through this period, with a slight dip for Kazakhstan in 1999 due to the MiG-21 incident. (23) Given the amount of available resources, there were few alternatives, so USCENTCOM continued with the modest programs it had inherited. However, increasing numbers of military students attended combat training courses as opposed to English language instructor courses, professional courses such as defense resource management, or war colleges. This trend toward increasing combat skills is addressed in more detail below.

Regional Cooperation

USCENTCOM inherited the CENTRASBAT program when it assumed responsibility for the region, and it conducted the May 1999 exercise as a peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance seminar in a hotel in downtown Tampa, just outside of its headquarters at MacDill AFB. The seminar format allowed the USCENTCOM staff to become more familiar with the needs and perspectives of the Central Asian states and also gave the delegations from Central Asia an opportunity to become familiar with USCENTCOM's perspective on the region. For the first time, Turkmenistan participated as an observer. (24)

The Demise of CENTRASBAT

But by late 1998, US efforts to encourage regional cooperation through CENTRASBAT were faltering. Originally conceived as a combined battalion with a company from each of the three participating nations and rotating command structure, it never achieved this goal. Despite the original plan, each company was garrisoned in its own country and the battalion came together only for the annual exercises. (25) The command and control structure, with rotating commanders and geographically dispersed elements, were too challenging to overcome. The battalion was never used in an operational mission, despite opportunities in post-civil war Tajikistan and against the IMU incursions in 1999 and 2000. (26) CENTRASBAT may have been

overly ambitious--Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan were new nations still attempting to establish their own sovereignty and develop indigenous armed forces, and the establishment of a joint rapid reaction/peacekeeping force detracted from both objectives. In the end it proved to be counterproductive. Although the concept originated with the three participating nations, the United States assumed ownership of the effort when it began funding and orchestrating the annual exercises. In time, CENTRASBAT came to be seen as an "American project," and the Central Asian states lost a sense of ownership. Kyrgyzstani Defense Minister Topoyev captured this sense in a July 2004 interview:
   This was a good example of how any international program should
   primarily meet the interests of the country where it is being
   carried out. It is necessary to take into account the interests and
   positions of the region's countries on regional security issues.
   The degree to which they [the interests] coincide with foreign
   programs' goals should be taken into consideration as well. The
   peacekeeping battalion created in Central Asia did not prove
   relevant exactly for these reasons [emphasis added]. (27)

By 1999, General Zinni recognized Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan were discouraged with the program. He had observed the 1998 exercise in Central Asia and participated in the 1999 seminar, so he recognized the limitations of the program. The apparent irrelevance of CENTRASBAT in the face of the IMU incursions brought the issue to a head, particularly when one Kazakh observer noted: "The question arises of what the real significance of the CENTRASBAT exercises is for strengthening security." (28) General Zinni and other US officials abandoned the concept of a joint CENTRASBAT unit as a means for promoting regional cooperation and encouraged each of the three nations to form separate battalions which could operate independently, collectively, or with other international peacekeeping forces. (29) The multinational unit was disbanded at the end of 1999, although the CENTRASBAT name continued to be used for exercises for a few years. Planning for the September 2000 exercise was based on each country providing an entire battalion, and it ultimately became the largest in the series with approximately 1,400 participants. But the IMU incursions in the summer of 2000 forced Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to withdraw from the exercise in August, only to reconsider and rejoin prior to the opening ceremonies. In response to the new threats to the region, last minute changes to the scenario allowed the exercise to focus more on border security and counterinsurgency rather than on peacekeeping operations. In 2001, the exercise was renamed Regional Cooperation and was executed as a small command post drill at the US training facilities at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (30) The United States cancelled the exercise in 2002 because of ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, the one for 2003 remained on the books for a while but was also cancelled because of the invasion of Iraq. (31) While CENTRASBAT was the centerpiece of the US security-cooperation programs with Central Asia in the late 1990s, few officers at USCENTCOM today even know what it was. (32)

Disaster Response and Environmental Security

But the demise of CENTRASBAT did not end US efforts to promote regional cooperation. General Zinni saw new opportunities with a theme that had started with the expansion of the military contact program in the mid-1990s--disaster response and environmental security. The National Guard had always played an important role in responding to natural disasters in the United States, primarily in its responsibility to the state governor, so the Arizona and Louisiana National Guards included a small number of disaster response events in their proposals for the military contact plans with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The 1996 plans, for example, included a proposal for a Kazakhstani delegation to observe a disaster response exercise at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona, in which the Arizona National Guard would participate. Two proposals for Uzbekistan were made to observe the Louisiana National Guard in a disaster response command and control exercise in New Orleans, and to have an Uzbek platoon participate in a Combat Engineer disaster response exercise with the 225th Engineering Group in Pineville, Louisiana.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan quickly appreciated the value of these events. Central Asia is subject to devastating natural disasters such as seasonal flooding, landslides, and earthquakes, the latter of which have completely destroyed Almaty, Ashgabat, and Tashkent at various times over the last century. In both countries, the military would be called upon to respond to a disaster, whatever the source. These military contact events helped them formulate plans and requirements. From General Zinni's perspective, these events also fostered democratization of the military as they demonstrated in a very practical manner the civil-military coordination needed to address these catastrophes: "We decided to hold conferences on disaster assistance in some of these countries. They brought their fire, police, emergency service units, and military; we brought experts from the U.S., who showed them how to intermix the civilian and military and cooperate with each other; and we did all this in the name of the U.S. ambassador." (33)

General Zinni also used the growing set of disaster response activities to promote regional cooperation. In 1999 the military contact plans included a three-phase International Workshop on Earthquake Response (IWER), later renamed International Workshop on Emergency Response. IWER was hosted by the Arizona National Guard and conducted in both Phoenix, Arizona, and Almaty, Kazakhstan. IWER included large delegations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and represented the first US-sponsored regional exercise beyond CENTRASBAT. The Arizona National Guard sponsored a second exercise on flood management in 2000, and the IWER exercises became a significant pillar of US security-cooperation efforts in the region. The Montana National Guard and Kyrgyzstan hosted IWER 2002 in Bishkek, again with an earthquake scenario, and the Louisiana National Guard and Uzbekistan hosted IWER 2003, focusing on petrochemical disasters, in Baton Rouge.

Concurrent with these efforts were military contact events, including assessments and information exchanges, which focused on environmental security. In the second half of the 1990s, these were primarily conducted with Kazakhstan, which suffers from the effects of over 470 nuclear explosions at the Semipalatinsk test site during the Soviet era. At least one event was also executed in Uzbekistan. General Zinni built on these early bilateral efforts on environmental security to support his objective of regional cooperation. In April 2000, USCENTCOM sponsored an environmental security conference in Oman that included delegations from the Central Asian states. Subsequent conferences in 2001 and 2002 were hosted by the Marshall Center. Kazakhstan hosted the conference in 2003, and the following year it was combined with the IWER exercise in Tashkent. (34)
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Title Annotation:p. 25-71
Author:McCarthy, Michael J.
Publication:Walker Papers
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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