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Turkmenistan Table of Contents


Strategic Considerations

The 1992 constitution provides that the republic shall maintain armed forces to defend state sovereignty and that military service for males is a universal obligation that prevails over other constitutional obligations. Turkmenistan's government is adamant about the need to develop and maintain strong, well-trained, and well-equipped armed forces to defend the country's independence. At the same time, it has stated that it will maintain a posture of "positive neutrality" in regard to national security.

Under the agreement for shared command, the presidents of Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation act as joint commanders in chief. By agreement, troops under joint command cannot act without the consent of both ministries of defense. In Turkmenistan the chief military policy-making body, the Supreme Defense Committee, consists of the president, the ministers of defense and internal affairs, the chairman of the Supreme Court, the procurator general, and the leaders of the five provinces. Prior to the creation of the Turkmenistan Ministry of Defense in January 1992, the republic's military establishment fell under the command of the Turkestan Military District of the Soviet armed forces.

Turkmenistan's dependence on the Russian Federation for security against aggressive neighbors, at least until the republic's armed forces become a viable deterrent, creates tension with the foreign policy goal of remaining as independent as possible from Russia. These conflicting national security considerations explain the Niyazov government's implementation of a bilateral military alliance with Russia while at the same time refusing to commit itself to substantial participation in regional military agreements that possibly would alienate Iran.

Data as of March 1996