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Uzbekistan Table of Contents


The Armed Forces

The president of Uzbekistan is the commander in chief of the armed forces, and he has authority to appoint and dismiss all senior commanders. The minister of defense and the chief of staff have operational and administrative control. Since early 1992, President Karimov has exercised his supreme authority in making appointments and in the application of military power. The staff structure of the armed forces retains the configuration of the Turkestan Military District. The structure includes an Operational and Mobilization Organization Directorate and departments of intelligence, signals, transport, CIS affairs, aviation, air defense, and missile troops and artillery. In 1996 total military strength was estimated at about 25,000. The armed forces are divided into four main components: ground defense forces, air force, air defense, and national guard.


The ground defense forces, largest of the four branches, numbered 20,400 troops in 1996, of which about 30 percent were professional soldiers serving by contract and the remainder were conscripts. The forces are divided into an army corps of three motorized rifle brigades, one tank regiment, one engineer brigade, one artillery brigade, two artillery regiments, one airborne brigade, and aviation, logistics, and communications support units. The ground forces' primary mission is to conduct rapid-reaction operations in cooperation with other branches. Combined headquarters are at Tashkent; the headquarters of the 360th Motor Rifle Division is at Termiz, and that of the Airmobile Division is at Farghona. (Although the force structure provides for no division-level units, they are designated as such for the purpose of assigning headquarters.)

In 1996 Uzbekistan's active arsenal of conventional military equipment included 179 main battle tanks; 383 armored personnel carriers and infantry vehicles; 323 artillery pieces; forty-five surface-to-air missiles; and fifteen antitank guns.

Air Force and Air Defense

A treaty signed in March 1994 by Russia and Uzbekistan defines the terms of Russian assistance in training, allocation of air fields, communications, and information on air space and air defense installations. In 1995 almost all personnel in Uzbekistan's air force were ethnic Russians. The Chirchiq Fighter Bomber Regiment, taken over in the initial phase of nationalization of former Soviet installations, has since been scaled down by eliminating older aircraft, with the goal of reaching a force of 100 fixed-wing aircraft and thirty-two armed helicopters. According to the Soviet structure still in place, separate air and air defense forces operate in support of ground forces; air force doctrine conforms with Soviet doctrine. Some thirteen air bases are active.

In 1994 Uzbekistan's inventory of aircraft was still in the process of reduction to meet treaty requirements. At that stage, the air force was reported to have two types of interceptor jet, twenty of the outmoded MiG-21 and thirty of the more sophisticated MiG-29. For close air support, forty MiG-27s (foundation of the Chirchiq regiment) and ten Su-17Ms were operational. Twenty An-2 light transport planes, six An-12BP transports, and ten An-26 transports made up the air force's transport fleet. Training aircraft included twenty L-39C advanced trainers and an unknown number of Yak-52 basic trainers. Six Mi-8P/T transport helicopters were available. The air defense system consisted of twenty operational Nudelman 9K31 low-altitude surface-to-air missiles, which in 1994 were controlled by two Russian air defense regiments deployed along the Afghan border.

National Guard

The National Guard was created immediately after independence (August 1991) as an internal security force under the direct command of the president, to replace the Soviet Internal Troops that had provided internal security until that time. Although plans called for a force of 1,000 troops including a ceremonial guard company, a special purpose detachment, and a motorized rifle regiment, reports indicate that only one battalion of the motorized rifle regiment had been formed in 1994. The National Guard forces in Tashkent, thought to number about 700, moved under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Security in 1994.

Border Guards

The Uzbekistan Border Troop Command was established in March 1992, on the basis of the former Soviet Central Asian Border Troops District. In 1994 the Frontier Guard, as it is also called, came under the control of the Ministry of Internal Security. The force, comprising about 1,000 troops in 1996, is under the command of a deputy chairman of the National Security Committee, which formerly was the Uzbekistan Committee for State Security (KGB). The Frontier Guard works closely with the Russian Border Troops Command under the terms of a 1992 agreement that provides for Russian training of all Uzbekistani border troops and joint control of the Afghan border.

Military Training

Three major Soviet-built training facilities are the foundation of the military training program. The General Weapons Command Academy in Tashkent trains noncommissioned officers (NCOs); the Military Driving Academy in Samarqand is a transport school; and the Chirchiq Tank School trains armor units. In 1993 all three schools were stripped of the Soviet-style honorific names they bore during the Soviet period. Plans call for expansion of the three schools. Bilateral agreements with Russia and Turkey also provide for training of Uzbekistani troops in those countries. For aircraft training, Uzbekistan retains some Aero L-39C Albatross turbofan trainers and piston-engine Yak-52 basic trainers that had been used by the Soviet-era air force reserves.

Data as of March 1996

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Uzbekistan Table of Contents