THE ARMED FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF TAJIKISTAN

Rustam BURNASHEV
Irina CHERNYKH


Rustam Burnashev, Ph.D. (Philos.), deputy director, Abylay-khan Kazakh University of International Relations and World Languages Center for International and Humanitarian Studies (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

Irina Chernikh, Ph.D. (Political Science), associate professor, Al Farabi Kazakh National University International Relations and Politics Department (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


1. Regionalism and the Civil War

The civil war in Tajikistan has, overtly or covertly, exposed all contradictions, threats, risks, and challenges defining the military-security situation of countries in Central Asia and the entire region.

A major factor in the outbreak of this war were religious, communal, ethnic, sub-ethnic, and regional contradictions. The leaders of rival forces were placing their bets on local clansKhojent (Leninabad), Kulob, Kurgan-Tiube, Karategin, Ghissar, and Pamir (Gorno-Badakhshan). A considerable impact was made by a system of avlody (consanguine patrilineal communities, associations, and groups), used as a building block for armed detachments.1 Another factor in the outbreak of hostilities was the socioeconomic situation: mass unemployment, a shortage of arable land, and the low living standards of the majority of the population. The conflict was compounded by elements of irredentismsay, the idea of Great Tajikistan that would unite all ethnic Tajiks, including those living in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. There was also an appreciable growth in separatist sentiments: The Leninabad Region (in 2000, renamed the Sogdi Region) and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region mulled separation with subsequent incorporation into Uzbekistan and Russia, respectively.

Although the civil war formally lasted until 1997, hostilities ended mainly by February 1993, leaving between 60,000 and 100,000 killed and forcing approximately 600,000 people to flee their homes, moving to other parts of the republic, and also forcing 80,000 to go to other countries (mainly to Afghanistan).2 As a state, Tajikistan was effectively destroyed with only a semblance of unity remaining. The greater part of the country was controlled by warlords and crime groups.

The signing of a general peace and national accord agreement, in 1997, brought about some shifts in nation building, even if on a purely formal level (the institution of presidential administrative, parliamentary, and regional government structures). The government gradually extended its control over the republics territory, although it continued to rely on informal relations, clans, and connections that had evolved during the civil war, including a merging of criminal and business interests, and semi-independent, irregular armed formations and groups. At present, people from Kulob, the home region of the countrys president, Emomali Rakhmonov, account for a substantial part of Tajikistans political elite. Kulobian regular and semi-regular armed formations form the core of the countrys armed forces and other power structures.3

The situation changed somewhat in 2000-2001. Following a series of personnel changes, today five of E. Rakhmonovs eight personal advisers hail from the Leninabad Region, which presumably points to an attempt to create new political levers although the general policy line is apparently to keep Northerners out of the Cabinet.4 The Kulob clan is consolidating its positions. Kulob sub-elites from Dangara (Rakhmonovs home district) and Farkhar (M. Ubaidulloev) have raised their profile.5 The president seeks to tighten control over state structures, making his regime increasingly authoritarian. Although this may ensure a certain measure of stability, further movement toward authoritarian rule could provoke the opposition into action outside the bounds of the Constitution. At the same time, Rakhmonov has failed to open dialog with groups that refused to accept the 1997 agreement. Moreover, his regime has deepened regional divisions.

So, the 1997 agreement did nothing to stop political rivalry between the regions or the elites nor did it resolve outstanding social and economic problems. Drug trafficking and other criminal activities continue to seriously jeopardize stability. It is unlikely, however, that each of these factors in particular will be able to destabilize the situation. Combined, however, they could produce a domino effect.

2. Defense and Military Command Structure

Under Art 69 of the Republics Constitution, the president is the supreme commander of Tajikistans armed forces. He appoints and removes commanders of branches of service, declares a state of emergency and introduces martial law in the event of a threat to state security arising throughout the country or in certain parts of the country (the presidents edict is subject to parliamentary approval). The president also forms the Security Council and is its chairman (the secretary of the Security Council is Amirkul Azimov).

Nonetheless, Rakhmonov does not have full control over all state power structures, and in the event of a civil conflict their loyalty to the president may not be taken for granted. Today the military situation in the country is shaped by a number of persons and forces that are loyal to Rakhmonov, are in opposition to him, or maintain neutrality. Presidential power to a very large degree hinges on a balance between them.

3. The Armed Forces

Whereas the armed forces in other countries of Central Asia were built (in the early 1990s) on units of the Soviet Army Turkestan Military District deployed in their respective territories, in Tajikistan, they were formed out of guerrilla detachments.

The first more or less regular unit was the Presidential Guard, created by Rakhmon Nabiev in May 1992. It was comprised mainly of Kulob residents and was designed to disperse demonstrations organized by opposition forces. In the same year, Mirzo Samiev headed up the Special Purpose Brigade and the Independent Battalion, answering directly to the president, also formed mainly from Kulob Tajiks.6 Subsequently these units made the core of the Peoples Front combat formations. It is hardly surprising that Kulobians became the base of power structures supporting the government, ever since the 1970s acting as a junior partner to Leninabadians in running the republic, controlling mainly the power structures (the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region was also part of the system, providing mid-level officials for the National Security Committee).

The next stage of the militarys organizational development began in December 1992, when the Peoples Front, led by Sangak Safarov, took Dushanbe. Presumably, the countrys leadership at the time (Prime Minister A. Abdullodzhanov, a Leninabadian; and Parliament Speaker Rakhmonov, a Kulobian) began forming regular Tajik Army units from Peoples Front detachments. On 23 February, 1993, metropolitan garrison troops marched through the main square of the republics capital. On that day the National Army was born.7

The third stage is associated with the peace process in the country. In June 1997, the Rakhmonov government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) set up a National Reconciliation Commission and signed the aforementioned General Peace and National Accord Agreement. The document, among other things, envisioned the creation of a united army that was to consolidate a great number units, detachments, groups, and gangs that had appeared during the civil war (a protocol on military issues, March 1997) with UTO assigned 30 percent of positions on all state administration levels (a protocol on political issues, May 1997). On 27 June, 1999, the UTO and the government signed a protocol on the dissolution and disarming of illegal armed formations.8

At present, the republics armed forces are comprised of poorly integrated detachments scattered across different parts of the country to ensure security in the hot spots. They do not have a clear-cut table-of-organization structure or a coherent force development concept. State leadership relies on a combination of security and police forces, paramilitary supporters of the former Peoples Front, and UTO armed formations that took the side of the government.

The countrys military and paramilitary structures also include Defense Ministry units (minister, Sherali Khayrulloev), State Border Protection Committee troops (chairman, Abdurrakhmon Azimov), Interior Ministry formations (minister, Khumdin Sharipov), State Security Ministry units (minister, Khayriddin Abdurakhimov), Emergency Situations Ministry formations (minister, Mirzo Zieev), the State Customs Committee (chairman, Mirzo Nizomov), and the Presidential Guard (commander, Gafur Mirzoev).

Defense Ministry Units

There are diverging estimates of the numerical strength of Defense Ministry forces and their equipment. According to V. Zaichenko, the country has approximately 20,000 troops. The government army numbers about 12,000 servicemen, has approximately 200 APCs, 35 tanks, and more than 200 guns and mortars. Some 8,000 men are part of UTO integrated detachments.9 According to the Nezavisimaia gazeta daily, the government has approximately 7,000 troops with 40 tanks, 125 infantry fighting vehicles, and 24 artillery systems.10 In the estimate of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London),11 the Tajik army has 6,000 servicemen: two motorized brigades (one is a training brigade), a mountain ranger brigade, an artillery brigade, special task brigades and other divisions, and a missile regiment (see Table 1).

Table 1

Tanks

-62

3

 

-72

33

Infantry fighting vehicles

BMP-1

9

 

BMP-2

15

Armored personnel carriers

BTR-70

2

 

BTR-60

1

 

BTR-80

26

Field artillery guns

D-30 (122 mm)

11

Rocket launchers

BM-21 (122 mm)

11

Mortars

PM-38 (120 mm)

9

Antiaircraft missile launchers

(-2/-3/-7, Stinger)

20

Helicopters

Mi-24 (ground attack)

10

 

Mi -8 (support)

11

In assessing the overall numerical strength of the republics military, it is essential to take into account the fact that enlisted personnel for Russian units based on its territory was recruited mainly from among Tajik citizens doing active military service.

Given the experience in the armed conflicts of the late 20th-the early 21st century, air-defense forces (commander, Col. Akbar Kaiumov) take on special importance. Before 1991, air defense of the countrys territory was ensured by the Andizhan and Termez fighter regiments based in Uzbekistan. By now, these contacts have been broken off.12 Tajik air defense forces can only ensure a continuous radar covered area at a height of at least 5,000 kilometers. There is a shortage of assets to control air space over the Pamir. In 2001, the Defense Ministry decided to set up radar posts on the border with Afghanistan. Efforts have been deployed to revive the combat command and control system. The automated command and control system, however, has been so plundered that, according to Russian specialists, it may not be restored.13

The Defense Ministry is believed to be solidly behind Rakhmonov. Nonetheless, revolts by his rapid reaction unit under the command of Col. M. Khudoiberdyev (1996 and 1998) showed that there are many question marks over the loyalty of some army units to the government. The 25th Battalion (Dushanbe), comprised of Islamic opposition fighters and controlled by Said Abdullo Nuri, chairman of the Islamic Party, is another influential force. According to military experts, the battalion has modern small arms and is highly mobile.14

Border Protection Troops

These troops include two organic brigades with a total strength of approximately 1,200 men.15 A considerable part of border guards, especially among those protecting the Tajik-Uzbek border in the Sogdi Region, are former opposition fighters. According to some sources, the decision to send them to the border with Uzbekistan was hardly accidental. The Tajik government fears that Khudoiberdyev forces could (as was the case in 1998) try to cross the border, hoping that the former opposition will be more decisive in cutting short such attempts.

Interior Ministry Formations

Considering that the main threats to the existing regime come not from outside the country but from within, the core of the republics armed forces is formed not by the regular army but Interior Ministry troops, with a total strength of up to 15,000 men. They have 15 combat helicopters (five Mi-24s, and 10 Mi-8s).16

One elite force is 1st Special Operations Brigade (commander, Maj. Gen. Sukhrob Kasymov). It was formed in 1994 out of a special purpose regiment (before 1993, the Dushanbe OMON, or special purpose police force), based on a self-defense unit organized by Kasymov back in 1992, in Dushanbe.17 In 1998, the brigade took part in suppressing the Khudoiberdyev led revolt in the Leninabad Region, as a result of which Kasymov was promoted to major general. Incidentally, at the time he objected to the use of force against Khudoiberdyev. The brigade is considered to be the most well organized, trained and equipped armed formation in Tajikistan. It is comprised of four battalions (rapid reaction, special operations, motorized infantry, and patrol), four independent companies (reconnaissance, traffic control and regulating service, motor transport, and signals), and two special task detachments (mountain rangers and alpine skiers). Personnel: 2,300 military servicemen (see Table 2).

Table 2

Tanks

-72

10

Infantry fighting vehicles

BMP-2

14

Armored personnel carriers

BTR-80

22

Field artillery pieces

 

10

Mortar battery

PM-38 (120 mm)

 

Multiple rocket launchers

Grad

3

Helicopters

Mi-8

3

Brigade sub-units are provided with satellite based communication facilities. Up to 70 percent of commissioned officers graduated from Russian military training establishments (the Riazan Higher Paratroops School and the Perm and the St. Petersburg Interior Ministry Schools). Experts believe that the brigade is in opposition to Rakhmonov, more inclined to support M. Ubaidulloev, speaker of the upper house of parliament and mayor of Dushanbe.

Security Ministry Units

Observers note that the republics Security Ministry is still one of the most powerful intelligence services in the CIS. The Tajik intelligence service is believed to strongly favor the integration of analogous structures of the Commonwealth member countries.18 The ministry acts along five main lines: economic intelligence, counterintelligence, terrorism control, investigation, and general intelligence.19 It includes the Alfa special task unit, based in Dushanbe, as well as regional components and services. Owing to its secretiveness, it is not possible to make even a rough estimate of their total numerical strength. The ministry is generally seen as being loyal to Ubaidulloev.

Emergency Situations Ministry Formations

The Emergency Situations Ministry was formed out of the Emergency Situations Committee, in July 1999, to give Zieev, one of the influential UTO field commanders, an illusion of power. Formally, the ministry has no right to intervene in armed conflicts or internal riots. Nonetheless, Zieev doubled staff numbers and expanded his ministrys powers. At present, ESM formations number 2,000 to 2,500 fighters and control key sections of the Tajik-Kyrgyz and Tajik-Uzbek border. Zieev himself is a rather controversial figure. During the civil war his chief of staff was Juma Namangani, leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The jury is still out on the nature of their cooperation, but Zieevs contacts proved useful to Rakhmonov in late October 1999, when the emergency situations minister took part in negotiations to secure the release of hostages that the IMU had taken in Kyrgyzstan. In January 2001, he negotiated on IMU members leaving Tajikistan for Afghanistan.20 One of his detachments still blocks Kasymov forces, based in the Varzob Gorge. At the same time, there are question marks over whether Zieev formations will stay loyal to Rakhmonov in the event of a serious split within the government.

Irregular Formations of the Opposition Movement

There is good reason to say that co-opted UTO leaders are, at least, apparently neutral toward Rakhmonov. Nonetheless, there are irregular armed formations in the country that are in opposition to the government. Although the majority of UTO commanders supported the peace process, not all of their fighters integrated into the republics law enforcement or power structures. Some of them, above all those whose field commanders did not get positions in the new power structures, refused to dissolve, rejecting the 1997 peace agreement.

In the late 1990s, the UTO had approximately 5,000 armed fighters. By March 2000, in accordance with the 1997 agreement, 4,498 of them were integrated either into military or security services: In particular, in Garm and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, nearly all former members of the armed opposition were enrolled in Interior Ministry forces.

Their integration into armed structures proceeded more or less smoothly. The authorities, however, have considerable difficulty in funding the military. On 23 June, 2000, the government declared that 4,000 former UTO fighters who had joined the army, would have to be demobilized by 1 August. In the end, only 1,500 men were demobilized.21 Some of them rejoined irregular armed formations. As of 1 August, 2000, contract service was abolished in the republic, which also reduced the number of former UTO fighters in state power agencies.22 Irregular formations are replenished with those who became subject to investigation or arrest. It must be said in this context that although an amnesty was announced as part of the peace agreement, designed to facilitate the integration of field commanders and fighters, those who did not lay down arms until 2001 became a target of special attention on the part of the republics relevant authorities.

These formations rely for livelihood on looting, the road toll, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. A major factor in the viability of irregular armed formations is the support they get from the local population (psychological readiness to help without fearing punishment from the authorities, plus what is known as the demographic resource). While demographic reserves for replenishment of irregular forces are known, the level of indigenous support for field commanders on the ground is difficult to assess.

After the end of the civil war, warlords retained control over their zones of influence: Darband (controlled by Mullo Abdullo), Garm (M. Nizomov), Dzhirgatal (M. Iskandarov, chairman of the Democratic Party), Tavildara (M. Zieev), Kalai-Khumb (S. Mukhabbatov, chairman of the Oil and Gas Committee), Kulob (the brothers Cholov), Dangara (E. Rakhmonovs home town), Kurgan-Tiube (formerly controlled by M. Khudoiberdyev, now controlled by M. Zieev groups), and Varzob (S. Kasymov).23

The greater part of the Garm Region and the Karategin Valley, where a large number of refugees from Uzbekistan are based,24 as well as the Kofarnikhon zone, where the warlords support First Deputy Prime Minister Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda and are presumably neutral toward the Dushanbe government, are still outside control. The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region does not in effect recognize the jurisdiction of the central authorities. The region is controlled by self-defense units with a strength of up to 3,000 men. Trans-Pamir districts are the turf of Salam Mukhabbatov and the Badakhshan Jihad Council that he heads.25 It is rather difficult to estimate the numerical strength of these armed formations as they mingle with local residents, and can quite easily replenish their ranks.

Dushanbe is trying to bring the situation under control by mounting local operations to eliminate irregular armed formations. In September 2000, an operation against the Mullo Abdullo unit was carried out (approximately 28 militants were killed and 40 taken prisoner). Mullo Abdullo himself was captured in the Kandahar mountains by a U.S. commando team in the spring of 2002.26 Before that, his force made the core of IMU formations. In August 2001, a raid was carried out against Rakhmon Sanginov and Mansur Muakkalovs detachment (in all, 150-200 men). Both field commanders were killed, thirty-six of their fighters were killed and 66 taken prisoner.27

The Khudoiberdyev Group

This group rose against the government on three occasions, the last time on 4-9 November, 1998, in Khujand and other parts of northern Tajikistan. Khudoiberdyev had up to 1,000 men under his command. On 4 November, they seized key installations in Khujand and the regions district centers, including an airport in Chkalovsk and the Shakhristan mountain pass, along the sole road linking the region with the rest of Tajikistan. Later in the day, Russian helicopters airlifted 200 servicemen from the Presidential Guard, under the command of Mirzoev, as well as subunits from the special task brigade, under Kasymov. UTO forces also took part in the operation. A week later, the Khudoiberdyev group was routed, but he himself fled to Uzbekistan. Approximately 200 men were killed and 500 wounded in the course of the fighting.28 As Khudoiberdyev fighters had infiltrated Tajikistan from Uzbekistan, there is good reason to say that this happened, at least, with the connivance of the neighboring republic (according to a number of sources, Khudoiberdyev had been receiving financial and technical assistance from the Uzbek military and was able freely to cross the Uzbek-Tajik border). It is far more difficult to prove support on the official level. In so far as the rebels demanded an amnesty for all political prisoners as well as the creation of a state council with the participation of all influential regional leaders and an early convocation of a parliament session, Khudoiberdyev expressed the interest of the Khojent clan, which was not represented, in 1998, in the countrys power structures. According to unconfirmed official reports, Khudoiberdyev was killed in early October 2001, in Uzbekistan.

4. Personnel Training and Manpower Acquisition

The republics armed forces are built on a regular army principle. Since 2000, it has relied in its manpower acquisition exclusively on conscription. There is still a pronounced trend for units to be manned through local favoritism and familial/clannish principles: Commanders seek to pick servicemen from among their fellow countrymen. The length of service for enlisted and NCO personnel is two years. The mobilization reserve capacity is rather difficult to estimate at present.

Outflow of Soviet army officers from the republic (in the late 1980s-early 1990s) extremely aggravated the problem of military personnel quality. The bulk of draftees are poorly educated, unprepared young men, but there is no problem with the numbers. This is due to several reasons: the growing birth rate (in the past decade the population has increased from 5.5 million to 6.25 million, or nearly 14 percent)29; the gradual reduction in the number of young men drafted into the military (whereas in the past, Tajikistan provided more than 120,000 conscripts to the Soviet Army every year, today approximately 9,000 people are drafted)30; and high unemployment.

Under Soviet rule, there were no military training schools or centers in the republic. So as of the mid-1990s the republics military drew commissioned officers mainly from among the alumni of civilian higher colleges and universities, as a result of which young officers lacked both knowledge and practical skills.31 Today officers are trained at the Higher Military Engineers College (Dushanbe). There is also a secondary military school (patterned after the Suvorov civilian secondary military school). Interior Ministry troops are trained at special mountain bases, Navruz and Sharvoda. Officers are also prepared at military training establishments in Russia, enrolling approximately 100 cadets from Tajikistan every year (at present 500-600 Tajik citizens are taking a course of training there).32 Junior command personnel for the Tajik military is also trained in Russia. Tajik cadets also acquire knowledge and practical skills in Ukraine and China. Furthermore, for the past five years, personnel training has been greatly facilitated by the staff of Russian military advisers at the republics Defense Ministry.

On the whole, the standard of military training of the republics armed forces is sufficiently high. Military units feature high tactical maneuverability, can operate effectively on mountainous terrain, are especially proficient in mine laying and explosive demolition, and have a diversified communication (including satellite based) network. Even so, despite considerable combat experience, military leadership generally lacks command and control skills on the operational level. They are good tacticians, rather mediocre operational commanders, and clearly inept strategists. In so far as the armed forces were formed out of former irregular units, they are faced with a pressing need to enhance the level of mobilizational and operational readiness, strengthen organization and military discipline, and enforce law and order.

5. Defense Spending

In 2000, the republics defense budget was $82 million (originally it was planned at $19 million), a decline of 10.9 percent from 1999. This reduction was brought about by the countrys dire economic situation. Presumably, to save budget resources, Tajikistan has abolished contract service and is downsizing the military.33

The armed forces experience serious materiel and technical supply and other logistic problems. There is a general shortage of weapons, ammunition, and military hardware and equipment. One reason for this is the lack of an independent military-industrial base. A substantial part of industrial enterprises in the north of the country, which in the past produced military goods, were elements of the Soviet military-industrial complex, and are now not able to produce or repair arms and equipment.

6. International Military and Military-Technical Cooperation

Formally, international military and military-technical cooperation in the republic began when collective peacekeeping forces were brought into its territory. As of the time they were formed (September 1993), they were comprised of a Russian division (approx. 6,000 men) and Uzbek and Kyrgyz battalions (450 and 400 men, respectively). In September 1994, it was decided to bring the strength of the peacekeeping forces up to 16,000. In 1995-1997, however, Kyrgyzstan withdrew its battalion while Uzbekistan only left one company (100 servicemen),34 but it was also pulled out, in November 1998. Then Uzbekistan called back its border guards. In February 1999, the Kyrgyz border protection battalion went home, as did the Kazakh battalion, in 2000. As a result, only Russian troops remained in the countrythe 201st Motor Rifle Division, several independent units, a space control center (all of them were to be integrated into the Russian military base),35 and a border guard group. Officially, during the civil war, Russian troops maintained neutrality, but there is reason to believe that they had in fact been supplying arms and other military equipment to progovernment forces.

Friendship with Russia

Relations between Russia and Tajikistan in the military sphere are based on the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (signed on 25 May, 1993) and the Treaty on the Status and the Terms of the Presence of a Russian Military Base on the Territory of the Republic of Tajikistan (16 April, 1999). The latter, however, has yet to go into effect: It has been ratified by both sides, but the exchange of instruments of ratification is being delayed.

The 201st Motor Rifle Division (commander, Col. Iurii Perminov) is comprised of three motorized infantry and one artillery regiment, a tank battalion and combat service support units, including an independent helicopter squadron. Before the Soviet Union broke up, the division was part of the 40th Army, taking part in combat operations in Afghanistan. At present its units are deployed in three large populated areas: Dushanbe (the 670th Air Group, the 92nd Motorized Infantry Regiment, the 401st independent tank battalion, and self-propelled artillery and anti-aircraft/missile regiments; Kurgan-Tiube (the 191st Motorized Infantry Regiment and an independent multiple launcher battalion); and Kulob (the 149th Motorized Infantry Regiment).36 The total numerical strength is approx. 7,000 (the bulk of enlisted personnel are Tajik citizens doing active military service). Armaments: four tactical missile launchers, approx. 200 tanks, 470 combat armored vehicles, 220 guns and mortars, and 18 multiple rocket launchers.37 According to other sources, the division has 12,000 personnel with 180 T-72 tanks, 340 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, 180 artillery pieces of various types and 35 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles.38 According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the division has 8,000 servicemen (for armaments, see Table 3).39

Table 3

Tanks

-72

128

Infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers

BMP-2, BRM-1, BTR-80

314

Self-propelled artillery systems

2S1 (122 mm)

66

 

2S3 (152 mm)

54

Multiple rocket launchers

BM-21 (122 mm)

12

 

12P140 Uragan (220 mm)

12

Mortars

PM-38 (120 mm)

36

Antiaircraft missile launchers

SA-8

20

Division troops are protecting 11 sectors of the Tajik-Afghan border as well as a number of important installations and Russian establishments in the country. The division has organic air-defense assets. Nonetheless, there is no joint alert duty with a counterpart Tajik structurethere is only interaction in the overlapping areas of responsibility.

Tajikistan is the only country in Central Asia where Russian troops protect the external frontier. They are represented by the Order of the Red Banner Special Task Group of the Federal Border Service (group headquarters are based in Dushanbe), comprised of the 48th (Panj) and the 117th (Moskovskiy) Border Units, protecting the state border with Afghanistan and China. The group was created on 19 October, 1992. Its numerical strength is 14,500 men. Russian servicemen form the core of the command personnel. The greater part of enlisted personnel are Tajik citizens on active military duty. The activity of Russian border troops is regulated by the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tajikistan on the Legal Status of RF Border Troops on the Territory of the Republic of Tajikistan.

In accordance with intergovernmental agreements between Russia and Tajikistan, an office of the chief military adviser was created at the republics Defense Ministry, which assists and directly participates in force development in the country. Russia is taking part in modernizing a military airfield in Chkalovsk, which will enable it to receive Russian long-range bombers. As of 18 July, 2002, the Okno, or Window, optical/electronic monitoring station of the Russian Space Forces was opened in Nurek, operating as part of the global Russian space control system.40

An important factor in military-political relations with Russia is that Tajikistan is party to the CIS Collective Security Treaty and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Contacts with Uzbekistan

Military-political relations between the governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are rather complicated. In 1992-1994, Tashkent officially provided political and military support to the ruling Communist elite (the Leninabad clan) and the progovernment Peoples Front. Yet as the Kulob group strengthened (1995), that policy was revised and efforts were funneled toward forging an alliance between the Leninabad elite and the Tajik opposition.

In October 1998, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan signed a declaration on all-round cooperation, recording in particular that the sides would coordinate their efforts in countering the spread of aggressive religious extremism and other extremist practices, attempts to forcibly change (from outside or within) the constitutional and social system or violate the territorial integrity of the signatory states. The declaration stipulated that each side would refrain from supporting actions aimed against another side or participating in such actions, and not allow its territory to be used for their preparation or perpetration, also providing that in the event of aggression being committed against them the states would have a right to render military assistance to each other, and receive such assistance. Nonetheless, as early as November 1998, actions by Khudoiberdyev forces in the Leninabad Region brought about a crisis in relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Their relations worsened further in 1999 and 2000, when Tashkent accused Dushanbe of allowing IMU formations to use its territory as a springboard for its operations. Uzbek officials say that as early as 1998 they warned the other side that Uzbek rebels were based on its territory, but Tajik authorities denied that. One theory has it that Tajikistans refusal to act against the IMU was, partially, a response to the incident with Khuboiberdyev.

Relations with the United States and NATO

A good deal has changed here since the start of the U.S. operation in Afghanistan (6 October, 2001). Of course, the decision by Central Asian states to make their territory available to NATO troops had a major impact on the situation. Yet it would be too soon to say that the United States is emerging as a dominant force in the region.

Reports to the effect that a U.S. military team had been sent to Tajikistan to gather information on and prepare possible operations against bin Laden fighters appeared back in August 2001. Dushanbes reaction to U.S. antiterrorist action, however, was cautious, at times ambiguous. Nonetheless, on 3 November, 2001, a group of experts from the U.S. central command arrived in the republic to study the possibilities of deploying U.S. air bases in the area of Khujand, Kurgan-Tiube, and Kulob.41 Furthermore, in December, Italians and French studied the possibility of deploying combat aviation in Kulob.

U.S. troops were stationed at the Dushanbe and Kulob airfields. French and coalition troops are also based in Kulob. Although the operational capacity of these airfields is not very high, they are strategically/operationally well located, allowing, jointly with airfields in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, to place the whole of Central Asia under control. These airfields are most likely being used today by military-transport aviation, search and rescue helicopters, EW aircraft, and reconnaissance drones.

The use of the airfields is not free of charge. The U.S. side has funded modernization of the runways; furthermore, the United States pays for the lease of infrastructure (if a base is leased as a whole) or for aircraft parking spaces (in the event of a joint use of an airfield). Each take-off/landing and the use of air corridors is paid for separately.

E. Rakhmonov denied rumors that Dushanbe could make the countrys territory available for the deployment of foreign land forces. According to him, this option has not even been considered yet.42

The United States is also deploying efforts to beef up sections of the Tajik-Afghan border controlled by the Tajik military (70 kilometers in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region). These sections are believed to be the least protected and so are used for drug trafficking. On 18 January, 2002, the leadership of the Tajikistan State Border Protection Committee was dismissed en masse on charges of involvement in drug trafficking. U.S. actions are confined to financial assistance and border guard training. In addition, when the antiterrorist operation began in Afghanistan, Washington lifted the 10-year embargo on arms and military equipment supplies to Dushanbe.

On 20 February, 2002, Tajikistan joined the NATO Partnership for Peace programthe last of the Central Asian states.

Contacts with Afghanistan

In the course of the U.S. operation in Afghanistan, the character of Dushanbes relations with the Northern Alliance also changed. Whereas in the past, the Alliance was receiving covert aid from Tajik territory, now contacts are becoming official. All the indications are that Tajik regular troops will become the core of the new ruling authority in Afghanistan. In the course of a meeting between E. Rakhmonov and H. Karzai (January 2002), it was announced that Tajik military servicemen would be part of an international peacekeeping force deployed in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Tajik servicemen are in fact already on its territory: Specialists and advisers from the S. Kasymov brigade acted as part of Northern Alliance troops in the fall-winter 2001 campaign.43 According to Nezavisimaia gazeta, between 300 and 400 Tajik military servicemen (advisers to field commanders, intelligence officers, artillery men, and specialists on maintenance of missiles, artillery and tanks) remained in Afghanistan, awaiting the arrival from Tajikistan of special peacekeeping battalions to take charge of operations.44 In addition, it is planned to set up facilities in Tajikistan to repair combat equipment for Afghan troops and set up an Afghan personnel training center.

In analyzing the military-political relations between these countries, it should not be forgotten that the power structures of the interim government in Afghanistan are headed by ethnic Tajiks and that approximately 3.5 million Tajiks live in the northeast of the country.


1 See: G. uradov, Tadzhikistan: sotsialnaia struktura obshchestva, Biulleten po problemam bezhentsev, No. 11, December 1998 [http://www.fr.ru/bulletin/11tadj.htm].
2 See: TAJIKISTAN: AN UNCERTAIN PEACE. The International Crisis Group (ICG). Asia Report No. 30, 24 December, 2001.
3 See: . Niazi, Tadzhikistan: regionalnye aspekty konflikta (1990s) [http://pubs.carnegie.ru/CRS/publi/etni-1/niayzi.htm].
4 See: TAJIKISTAN: AN UNCERTAIN PEACE...
5 See: Ibidem.
6 See: . Niazi, op. cit.
7 See: Krasnaia zvezda, 22 February, 2001.
8 See: Izvestia, 14 August, 1999.
9 See: V.M. Zaichenko, Obshchestvenniy kontrol nad voennoi sferoi v Respublike Tadzhikistan, in: Parlamentskiy kontrol nad voennoi sferoi v novykh nezavisimykh gosudarstvakh, oscow, 1998, pp. 231-232.
10 See: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 26 May, 2000.
11 See: The Military Balance 2001/2002, Oxford University Press for International Institute for Strategic Studies, Oxford, 2001, p. 170.
12 See: Nezavisimoie voennoie obozreniie, 14 September, 2001.
13 See: Ibidem.
14 See: Moskovskiie novosti, No. 36, 2000.
15 See: The Military Balance...
16 See: Iu.V. Gankovskiy, Tadzhikistan na poroge XXI veka, Biulleten po problemam bezhentsev, No. 11, December 1998.
17 See: Nezavisimoie voennoie obozreniie, 27 July, 2001.
18 See: D.M. Mikulskiy, Tadzhikistan: vnutripoliticheskoie polozheniie, Biulleten po problemam bezhentsev, No. 26, May 2000 [http://www.fr.ru/bulletin/26tadj.htm].
19 See: Mirazhi: Dosie na spetssluzhby Tadzhikistana [http://www.agentura.ru/press/about/jointprojects/versia/tagik].
20 See: TAJIKISTAN: AN UNCERTAIN PEACE...
21 See: Ibidem.
22 See: Nezavisimoie voennoie obozreniie, 27 July, 2001.
23 See: S. Shermatova, Islamskiy faktor v rukakh politicheskikh elit: vzgliad iznutri, Art-Biznes-Tsentr, Moscow, 2001, p. 211.
24 See: D.V. ikulskiy, Tadzhikistan: Karategin, istoriko-geograficheskiy region Respubliki Tadzhikistan, Biulleten po problemam bezhentsev, No. 17, August 1999 [http://www.fr.ru/bulletin/17tadj.htm].
25 See: D.V. ikulskiy, Tadzhikistan: Gorno-Badakhshanskaia avtonomnaia oblast Tadzhikistana, Biulleten po problemam bezhentsev, No. 14, April 1999 [http://www.fr.ru/bulletin/14tadj.htm].
26 See: [http://dw-world.de/russian/0,3367,2226_A_451906_1_A,00.html].
27 RIA Novosti, 25 June, 2001.
28 See: D.V. ikulskiy, Tadzhikistan: Voenno-politicheskaia obstanovka. Miatezh v Leninabadskoi oblasti, Biulleten po problemam bezhentsev, No. 10, December 1998 [http://www.fr.ru/bulletin/10tadj.htm].
29 See: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 11 March, 2002.
30 See: Krasnaia zvezda, 22 February, 2001.
31 See: Nezavisimoie voennoie obozreniie, 27 July, 2001.
32 See: Krasnaia zvezda, 22 February, 2001.
33 See: Krasnaia zvezda, 22 February, 2001.
34 See: A. Nikitin, O. Khlestov, Iu. Fedorov, A. Demurenko, irotvorcheskiie operatsii v SNG: mezhdunarodno-pravovye, politicheskie, organizatsionnye aspekty, Moskovskiy obshchestvenny nauchniy fond; Tsentr politicheskikh i mezhdunarodnykh issledovaniy, Moscow, 1998, p. 98.
35 See: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 26 December, 2001.
36 See: Vlast, 14 May, 2002.
37 See: V.M. Zaichenko, op. cit.
38 See: Iu.V. Gankovskiy, op. cit.
39 See: The Military Balance...
40 See: Nezavisimoie voennoie obozreniie, 5 July, 2002.
41 See: Nezavisimoie voennoie obozreniie, 16 November, 2001.
42 See: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 21 December, 2001.
43 This information was confirmed by S. Kasymov himself, in an interview with the RTR television channel (see: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 26 December, 2001).
44 See: Nezavisimaia gazeta, 26 January, 2002 and 26 December, 2001.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank
 - Advertorial UP - E-MAIL