Library of Congress – Federal Research Division
Country Profile: Kazakhstan, December 2006
Major Military Equipment: The army has 930 main battle tanks, 140 reconnaissance vehicles, 573 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 770 armored personnel carriers, 505 pieces of towed artillery, 163 pieces of self-propelled artillery, 171 mortars, 147 multiple rocket launchers, 12 surface-to-surface missiles, and 68 antitank guns. Most of that equipment is of the Soviet era and not reliable. The air force has 40 MiG–29, 43 MiG–31, and 16 MiG–25 fighter aircraft; 53 Sukhoi ground attack fighter aircraft; several regiments with 14 attack helicopters each; and 12 Sukhoi–24 reconnaissance aircraft. South Korea and other partners have delivered Kazakhstan about 13 small patrol craft for use in the Caspian Sea.
Military Service: The term of active service is 24 months. Males become eligible for conscription at age 18. The hazing of conscripts is a common practice.
Paramilitary Forces: In 2005 Kazakhstan had a total of 34,500 paramilitary personnel, 12,000 of whom were in the state border protection forces (under the Ministry of Interior), 20,000 in the internal security troops (police, under the Ministry of Interior), 2,000 in the presidential guard, and 500 in the government guard.
Foreign Military Forces: Since 2001 Kazakhstan has provided overflight and overland supply shipment rights to U.S. forces based in Kyrgyzstan.
Military Forces Abroad: In mid-2006, 29 Kazakhstani medical troops were attached to Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
Police: The police, numbering 20,000 in 2005, are supervised by the Ministry of Interior, which traditionally has been run by a military official. The first civilian minister of interior was appointed in 2003, placing all of Kazakhstan’s security forces under civilian control. The government has used police to harass and incarcerate opposition journalists, political figures, and demonstrators. Human rights organizations have reported frequent incidents of police brutality. The secret police have been effective in discouraging opposition organizations, but the regular police, who are poorly paid, are ineffective and often corrupt. In 2005 the Ministry of Interior reported more than 2,000 complaints of police corruption. In the early 2000s, the government has taken some measures to improve police practices. An independent Financial Police Agency, responsible to the prime minister, investigates money laundering and other financial crimes.
Internal Threat: The government has successfully discouraged civil unrest except for demonstrations on specific issues such as pension arrears. Crime figures on Kazakhstan are not available, but organized narcotics smuggling and human trafficking have prospered in recent years because of Kazakhstan’s location between source countries and Russia and the ineffectiveness of border controls. Seizures of smuggled narcotics from Afghanistan increased substantially in 2006.
Terrorism: In 1995 Kazakhstan joined what later became the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group also including China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, aimed at regional prevention of Islamist and separatist activities. However, Kazakhstan’s involvement with terrorism, either as a victim or as a supporter, is not considered likely. Although Islamic fundamentalism has no attraction for Kazakhstan’s Muslims, the government