0 $
2,500 $
5,000 $
100 $

Kazakhstan – Frontier of Stability in Central Asia?

Support SouthFront

Recent attempts to blow up Kazakhstan, the largest and wealthiest state in the Central Asia region, come down the pike every so often.

In May, 2016, anti-government protests erupted across the country. Kazahk security agencies reported that they had found caches of Molotov cocktails, gasoline and iron rods near the protest site in Almaty, and weapons at some activists’ addresses in the city. Experts believe that this scenario is fueled by foreign actors interested in destabilizing the region.

A few weeks after the failure of this aborted “color revolution”, another attempt to capture the entire city of Aktobe in the western part of the country was made. Dozens of armed fighters pounced upon and pilfered gun shops and military armories in the city. The insurgents were neutralized during sharp firefights with national security forces. The armed insurgency in Aktobe could quite literally have  been the beginning of a Libya-like civil war. If the insurgents had succeeded, there is little doubt that they could have used the sizable stockpiles of arms that they had seized to equip the nucleus of a fledgling army and establish a “rebel government”.

However, this terrorist attacked, managed in paper by ISIL, was successfully repelled by Kazhak security forces. SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence has already written about the developments and the importance of the region for the entire Eurasian security:

Today, we want to re-submit to all of our readers concerned with these developments, an overview of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan, which the project’s team prepared at the end of 2015

Kazakhstan – Frontier of Stability in Central Asia?

Written by Daniel Deiss and Igor Pejic

Spreading from the Caspian Sea in the West to China in the East, occupying more than one million square miles, Kazakhstan is one of the largest countries in the world with the population only about 17 million consists of many ethnic groups: Kazakh 51%; Russian 32%; Ukrainian 5%; German 2%; Tatar 2%; Uzbek 13%. Today country becomes a core security and geostrategic factor in the Central Asia region. After the fall of the Soviet Union the country’s military had some staggering periods, but today Kazakhstan’s armed forces meet the highest professional standards mostly thanks to Russia and CSTO as well as to the good national military governance.

The cumulative military budget 2013-2015 has reached almost seven billion dollars. The Kazakhstan’s army modernization is based on a domestic military industry. As the President Nursultan Nazarbayev stated: “about 70% of the modern weapons and equipment supplied to the army in 2015 should be produced by the national companies”.

As the CSTO member, Kazakhstan is taking part in military operations with the other organization’s participants. Operations are mostly concentrated on fighting terrorism and Islamic radicalism in border regions of the northern Afghanistan, which threaten the stability of entire Central Asia. In Collective Rapid Reaction Force (KSOR, CSTO) Kazakhstan deploys up to 5000 solders.

In order to strengthen national defense the agreement on creating joint regional air-defence system was signed with Moscow in 2013. According to this agreement the Anti-air systems equipped with S-300 and S-400 will be deployed across Kazakhstan. Although a member of CSTO, Kazakhstan is taking part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with limited participation in peace keeping missions.

The Armed Forces of the Republic of consists of the Ground Forces, Air and Air Defence Forces, Naval Forces, and Republican Guard.

Army 30,000; Navy 3,000; Air Force 12,000 (incl. Air Defence)

Paramilitary 31,500 (Government Guard 500; Internal Security Troops 20,000, including the “Arystan” Task Force Team of The National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NSC); Presidential Guard 2,000; State Border Protection Forces 9,000)

ARMY consists of 4 regional commands:

“Astana”. Headquarters Karaganda. The command acts as the Supreme Commander’s reserve. The District includes the 7th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Karaganda, (Military Unit No. 31775);

the 401th Cannon Artillery Brigade at Priozersk (Military Unit No. 06708); the 402th Rocket Artillery Brigade at Priozersk; the 403th Anti-armor Artillery Brigade at Priozersk (Military Unit No. 70417);

Junior Officer and Reserve Training Center at Spassk (Military Unit No. 36352); Rocket and Artillery Training Center at Priozersk, (Military Unit No. 14805).

“East”. Headquarters Semipalatins. The District has the 11th Tank Brigade, (formerly the 78th Tank Division) at Ayagoz, (Military Unit No.10810);

3rd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Usharal (Military Unit No.40398, formed on the basis of a motor rifle regiment of the 155th Motor Rifle Division); 4th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Novo-Akhmirovo, Ust-Kamenogorsk (Military Unit No.27943);

the 34th Artillery Brigade at Usharal (Military Unit No.10181);

the 101th Rocket Brigade at Semey (Military Unit No. 36803); the 102th Rocket Artillery Brigade at Semey (Military Unit No. 16752); the 103th Cannon Artillery Brigade at Semey (Military Unit No. 28738);

the Separate Reconnaissance Battalion at Semey (Special Forces, Military Unit No. 44736); the Separate Signal Brigade at Semey (Military Unit No. 44793).

“West”. Headquarters Atyrau. The District has the 100th Cannon Artillery Brigade at Aktobe, (Military Unit No. 30238); the 390th Separate Marine Brigade at Aktau, (Military Unit No. 25744); the Separate Reconnaissance Regiment (Military Unit No. 41433).

“Southern”. Headquarters Taraz. The district’s main task is ensuring security in the south-eastern borders of the country. The District includes the 43th tank brigade at Sary-Ozek in Almaty Province (Military Unit No. 12740, from 2013 in Air Mobile Forces), the 44th Cannon Artillery Brigade at Sary-Ozek (Military Unit No. 29108, from 2013 in Air Mobile Forces);

the 5th Separate Motor Rifle Mountain Brigade (Taraz, Military Unit No. 85395, 1,500 personnel), the 6th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade (Shymkent, Military Unit No.35748, with five motor rifle and tank battalions, two artillery battalions), the 9th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Zharkent (Military Unit No.74261), the Separate Mountain Battalion at Bauirjan Momishuli in Jambyl Region (Military Unit No. 91678 );

the 232th Engineer Brigade at Kapchagay (Military Unit No. 58012), the 221th Separate Signal Brigade at Taraz;

and the 40th Military Base at Guardeyskiy, Jambyl Region, (the Training Center of the Ground Forces, Military Unit No. 30212, graduate more than 2000 junior officer per year; the 12th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, Military Unit No.21450; the 54th Cannon Artillery Brigade, Military Unit No. 82796; the 23th Engineer Brigade, Military Unit No. 75263; the Medical Detachment, No. 63302; Base Tank Reserve Center, Military Unit No. 15632).

Kazakhstan – Frontier of Stability in Central Asia?



Armoured: 1 tank brigade (the 11th tank brigade at Ayagoz: 5 tank battalions, 1 motor rifle battalion, 3 artillery squadrons (battalions), 1 antiaircraft artillery missile battalion). Now at the good force generation level with serially field combat training upgrading. Former the 43th tank brigade at Sary-Ozek now in Air Mobile Forces.

Mechanised: 5 mech. brigades, 1 mountain brigade, 1 mech. brigade within 40th Military Base.

  • the 3rd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Usharal (No. 40398);
  • the 4th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Novo-Akhmirovo, Ust-Kamenogorsk (No. 27943);
  • the 5th Separate Motor Rifle Mountain Brigade at Taraz (No. 85395);
  • the 6th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Shymkent (No. 35748).
  • the 7th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Karaganda (No. 31775)
  • the 9th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Zharkent (No. 74261)
  • the 12th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade at Guardeyskiy, Jambyl Region (No. 21450, within the 40th Military Base)

Air Mobile Forces: 4 air assault brigades, new transferred 1 tank brigade and 1 artillery brigade. In the army, air mobile units are held at the highest level of readiness.

  • the 43th tank brigade at Sary-Ozek in Almaty Province (Military Unit No. 12740, from 2013 in Air Mobile Forces),
  • the 44th Cannon Artillery Brigade at Sary-Ozek (Military Unit No. 29108, from 2013 in Air Mobile Forces)


  • the 35th Air Assault Brigade at Kapshagai, (Military Unit No. 32363), about 1000 enlisted personnel, call sign, – “Bosfor” (Bosporus).
  • the 36th Air Assault Brigade at Astana, (Military Unit No. 68665), now immediate subordination to the Ministry of Defence;
  • the 37th Air Assault Brigade at Taldykorgan, at Collective Rapid Reaction Force’s (KSOR, CSTO) disposal, (Military Unit No. 18404);
  • the 38th Air Assault Brigade – Peacekeeping Brigade KAZBRIG at Almaty. Ready for UN Missions and Collective Rapid Reaction Force (KSOR, CSTO), (Military Unit No. 61993);

Separate units:

  • the 4th Separate Special Task Battalion at Taldykorgan, at Collective Rapid Reaction Force’s (KSOR, CSTO) disposal, (Military Unit No. 48386);
  • the Peacekeeping Battalion “Kazbat” at Kapshagai, ready for UN Missions, (Military Unit No. 28079);
  • the 4th Separate Engineer Battalion at Sary-Ozek, (Military Unit No. 89427);
  • the 4th Separate Signal Battalion at Shilikemir, Almaty Region (Military Unit No. 77035);
  • the 261th Special Task Team at Atyrau, (Military Unit No. 41433);
  • and other separate units.

COMBAT SUPPORT: 7 artillery brigades; 1 surface-to-surface missile unit; 3 combat engineer brigades.


Мain Вattle Тank: 300 T-72;

Reconnaissance 100: 40 BRDM; 60 BRM.

Armoured infantry fighting vehicle 652: 500 BMP-2; 107 BTR-80A; 43 BTR-82A; 2 BTR- 3E.

Armoured personnel carrier 357:

APC (T): 150 MT-LB;

APC (W) 207: 190 BTR-80; 17 Cobra.


Self-propelled 246: 122mm 126: 120 2S1; 6 Semser; 152mm 120 2S3;

TOWED 150: 122mm 100 D-30; 152mm 50 2A65; (122mm up to 300 D-30 in store);

GUN/MOR 120mm: 25 2S9 Anona;

Multiple rocket launcher 118: 122mm 100 BM-21 Grad; 300mm 18 Lynx (with 50 msl); (122mm 100 BM-21 Grad; 220mm 180 9P140 Uragan all in store);

Mortar 63: Self-propelled 120mm 18 CARDOM 120mm 45 2B11/M120;


Missile: Self-propelled 3 BMP-T

Man portable anti-tank system 9K111 Fagot (AT-4 Spigot); 9K113 Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel); 9K115 Metis (AT-6 Spiral);

GUNS 100mm 68 MT-12/T-12;

Missile • Surface-to-surface missile 12 9K79 Tochka (SS-21 Scarab).

Kazakhstan NAVY operates on the Caspian Sea, based at Aktau (the main base). The Kazakh Naval Force has a strength of 3,000 personnel and is equipped with 21 inshore craft. Naval aviation is situated in Aktau equipped with two Su-27 fighter jets, seven Su-27 pilots, and several helicopters Mi-24s and Mi-17.

Naval force status: PATROL AND COASTAL COMBATANTS, – 21.

Patrol craft with guided missile: 1 “Kazakhstan class” with 2 quad lnchr with 3424 Uran (SS-N-25 Switchblade) AShM, 1 Ghibka lnchr with SA-N-10 Gimlet SAM;

Patrol boat fast 5: 3 Sea Dolphin; 2 Saygak;

Patrol boat 15: 4 Almaty, 1 Dauntless; 1 Turk (AB25); 2 Zhuk (of which 1 may be operational); 4 Sardar; 3 Archangel;

LOGISTICS AND SUPPORT: Survey ship 1 Zhaik;

Coastal Defence: 1 coastal defence brigade: the 390th Separate Marine Brigade at Aktau, Military Unit No. 25744 (3 marine battalions (BTR-80; BTR-80A; BTR-82A), 2 tank battalions (T-72), 1 artillery squadron (battalion), 1 antiaircraft artillery missile battalion).

1st Separate Marine Battalion at Uralsk, Military Unit No. 55033, at the General Staff of the Armed Forces’ Main Intelligence Directorate’s disposal.

The Air Force consists mostly of Russian aircrafts such as MiG-29 and MiG-31, Su-27 and Su-25 frogfoot and Mi-24 Hind as the primary attack helicopter. The air force reportedly struggles to keep its aircraft airworthy, although air-defence fighters fare better than strike aircraft.


FIGHTER: 1 squadron with MiG-29/MiG-29UB Fulcrum; 2 squadron with MiG-31/MiG-31BM Foxhound;

FIGHTER/GROUND ATTACK: 2 squadron with MiG-27 Flogger D; MiG-23UB Flogger С; 1 squadron with Su-27/Su-27UB Flanker;

GROUND ATTACK: 1 squadron with Su-25 Frogfoot;

TRANSPORT: 1 unit with Tu-134 Crusty; Tu-154 Careless, 1 squadron with An-12 Cub, An-26 Curl, An-30 Clank, An-72 Coaler;

TRAINING: 1 squadron with L-39 Albatros;

ATTACK HELICOPTER: 5 squadron with Mi-24V Hind;

TRANSPORT HELICOPTER: Some squadrons with Bell 205 (UH-1H); EC145; Mi-8 Hip; Mi- 17V-5 Hip; Mi-26 Halo;

AIR DEFENCE: Some regiments with S-75M Volkhov (SA-2 Guideline); S-125 Neva (SA-3 Goa); S-300 (SA-10 Grumble); 2K11 Krug (SA-4 Ganef); S-200 Angara (SA-5 Gammon); 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful).

Today the Kazakh Air and Air Defence Force has four fast jet bases:

600th Guards Air Base, Zhetigen, Nikolayevka, Almaty, with MiG-29s and Su-24s,

602nd Air Base, Chimkent, with MiG-29,

604th Air Base, Taldy-Kurgan, with MiG-27s and Su-27s,

610th Air Base, Sary-Arka Airport, Karaganda, with MiG-31s,Su-27s,Su-25s.

The “Arystan” Special Task Force Team of The National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NSC).

NSC special force designed to combat terrorism; fight in the interests of Kazakhstan; protect of strategic objects in Kazakhstan.

About 150 enlisted personal.

The main “Arystan” base is located in Astana as the capital of the state and the place of location of the central office of the National Security Committee. Additional, there are two full-time Special Forces branch: in Almaty, the biggest city of Kazakhstan and financial center, and in Aktau (formerly Shevchenko) in the Caspian Sea – to secure the oil fields.

Military doctrine of this country still has its Soviet origins, as can be seen in military equipment. The 2011 Military Doctrine addresses most of the internal and external threats, with the focal point on a national defense industry. Most of the efforts has been invested into upgrading the Navy and Air force, but such work requires a lot of financial funds. The high maintenance of Air force is a common problem for the less developed countries; as a member of CSTO the Kazakhstan’s Anti-air systems are more than capable to overpass a gap in the national air defense.

Support SouthFront


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x