Military Sector of Turkmenistan

Mihail Păduraru

On June 24 2010, two months after a similar meeting held in Tehran, Turkmenistan hosts conference on disarmament in Central Asia and the Caspian region.
According to Iranian news agencies, Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki stated that this conference demonstrates that Iran and Turkmenistan are well determined and focused on demilitarization of the region and the world.[1]
In 2012, a military exercise-Khazar 2012, takes place in the Caspian Sea region, along with riparian states.
Speaking to foreign diplomats, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that Khazar-2012, held in Turkmenistan for the first time,  was aimed to improve the combat preparation of the Armed Forces of Turkmenistan, and, primarily, of the Naval Forces of the country.[2]
Turkmen leader stressed that the exercises were held in strict accordance with military doctrine, adopted in 2009, which was of defensive nature, and is in compliance with requirements of country’s foreign policy course.
In June 2016, a historic meeting took place between senior Russian and Turkmen officials in Ashgabat.
Despite the declared neutrality of Turkmenistan, they want to strengthen military relations[3] with Russia, the latter providing equipment and training for Turkmen military.
 A possible cause of this approach, is the increasing number of casualities among those charged with Afghan border protection, and worsening security in the region.
Currently, Turkmenistan has more than 22 treaties and agreements with Russia that  ensure a variety of contacts in the military sphere, including cooperation with the GRU and training  military personnel of Turkmenistan in Russia.
The Russian state provides technical support for aircraft and airfields, and others. Cooperation prevailed, particularly, in using military infrastructure elements.[4]
In the last years, in Turkmenistan, increasingly frequent military exercices were conducted,
possibly, because of security threats that come from Afghanistan border.
The exercises cover all categories of weapons, and the president Berdimuhamedov participated in the last one, which took place in the spring of 2016.[5]
Currently Turkmenistan has a contract for Su-25 aircrafts, which have been received from Georgia as payment for debts accrued from gas exports.
In 2001, 22 aircrafts have been completed.
Furthermore, Georgian specialists are training Turkmen pilots at the Mary-2 air base.[6]
Turkmenistan cooperates with Ukraine mainly based on barter agreements: Kiev ensures Turkmen military equipment, components and parts for military training exchange for natural gas.[7]
Also, in order to strengthen its Navy, Turkmenistan decided to buy patrol boats from Ukraine.
On April 27-2015, the Turkmen National Center of Satellite Control, founded in the Ahal province, in collaboration with French company Thales Alenia Space, has launched the first Turkmen-telecommunications satellite, via the US company SpaceX Cape.
The satellite will cover part of Europe, Asia and Africa, and will enable Turkmenistan to make significant progress in the field of  telecommunications and other applications, such as the Internet and mobile communications.[8]
As a part of NATO cooperation,Turkmenistan has recieved military equipment and training programs[9], but  on a small scale.
The strongest and productive cooperation is with Russia and Afghanistan.

Moreover, Turkmen officials position is influenced by the construction of a pipeline project, which will unite Turkmenistan with Pakistan and possibly India.

With the launch of anti-terrorist[10] operations in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan refused  to make its airports available for coalition troops.[11]
Neither airspace was not opened for military aircraft. Meanwhile, it provided air corridors for delivering humanitarian aid.[12]

Military pesonnel
Turkmen government has taken steps to curb the migration of young people and to bring those who have already left abroad in order to take them into the army.
All these were not sufficient to fill the personnel gaps, so it is considering the possibility of accepting even physically or mentally incapable people.[13]
And as security threats on the border with Afghanistan grow, corruption also grows, the price of bribes to be declared unfit, is jumping from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.[14]
Morale is down in the armed forces, drug abuse is common, even drug trafficking, practiced especially by units that lie on the border with Iran and Afghanistan.
The Turkmen armed forces are still struggling with suicide and defection is a usual problem too, often these cases are hushed.
Also in March 2015 the first mobilization of military reservists since Declaration of Independence of the State took place.[15]
This mobilization[16]was aimed to intimidate IS terrorists from the border with Afghanistan.
Military officials mentioned in the article, had conflicting statements, some considering that this action is good for national security, although admitting Turkmenistan does not openly discuss about terrorist threats, and others saying that this mobilization is unnecessary and contrary to the principle of neutrality of the state.[17]

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