The weak link. Cope if Turkmenistan with the invasion of militants

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Слабое звено. Справится ли Туркмения с вторжением боевиков

In the past year, as the “Islamic state” was losing its positions in Syria and Iraq, the builders of a worldwide Caliphate increased its activity in Afghanistan. Even in the summer, the us military reported about the elimination of the three commanders of ISIS in this country, and later Russian Ministry of foreign Affairs announced the transfer of militants of the organization in Afghanistan with the help of light helicopters with no markings.

At the same time, the reduction of defense capabilities neighbouring Afghanistan Turkmenistan, which began, according to various estimates, from the first half of 2010 years, can lead to a gradual penetration of the terrorist organization on the territory of this former Soviet Republic. Close and friendly relations of Ashgabat with the Afghan authorities, this process can only simplify and speed.

Turkmenistan is a closed country, reliable information about the current state of its armed forces there. The authorities of the Republic a few years after independence, openly published data on military expenditures, but in 1999 he stopped doing it. Assessment CIA World Factbook, in 2016, the GDP of Turkmenistan amounted to 95,5 billion. At the same time, according to Nation Master, in 2011 military expenditure of Turkmenistan amounted to 1.6 percent of GDP. If we assume that since then this figure has not decreased in the past year the country has spent on the armed forces about $ 1.5 billion. In reality, the development of the economy in 2014, when prices fell hydrocarbons – the main article of Turkmen export is constantly inhibited, decrease the income of the state budget that impact including on the armed forces.

Today in Turkmenistan in service call men at the age from 18 to 27 years, and, upon written request, the army can take and 17 years. To enter military school in Turkmenistan from 15 years of age. According to various estimates, every year in this country of military age reaches an average of 53 thousand people. In the Republic a strong clan contradictions, which recruits the vast majority of cases sent to serve in those areas which they were called. It is believed that this reduces the number of desertions.

The armed forces of Turkmenistan include three kinds of troops: the army, air force and Navy, the total number of personnel of which does not exceed 40 thousand people. In 2016, the authorities adopted the latest military doctrine, confirming the status of Turkmenistan as a neutral state (approved by the UN in 1995), which reserves the right to use armed force only to prevent internal conflicts, suppression of separatist movements, and extremism, and the struggle with the countries that spread weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, which can pose a threat to the Turkmen national security.

According to various sources, armed with Turkmenistan are ten T-90S tanks and 670 T-72, 170 reconnaissance and sabotage vehicles BRDM-1 and BRDM-2, 930 infantry fighting vehicles BMP-1 and BMP-2, 829 BTR-60, BTR-70 and BTR-80. In addition, the armament of the land forces are 40 self-propelled artillery installations 2C1 “Carnation”, 16 2S3 “acacia”, 17 2S9 “Nona-s”, 180 D-30 howitzers, 17 howitzers D-1 72 howitzer D-20, 70 mortars PM-38 and 31 mortars 2B9 “Vasilek”. The military and 128 reactive systems of volley fire “Grad”, “Uragan” and “Smerch”.

The aircraft fleet of the air force of Turkmenistan is relatively small. He has a total of about 20 MiG-29/UB, three fighter-bomber su-7B, 65 fighter-bombers su-17, 43 su-25МК (some of them in the second half of 2000-ies was upgraded in Georgia), one An-26 freighter, two training aircraft L-39, ten transport and combat helicopters Mi-24 and eight Mi-8 multipurpose. The air defense system of Turkmenistan is represented by about fifty anti-aircraft missile systems s-75 “Dvina”, s-125 Pechora and s-200 “Angara”.

Of the Navy Turkmenistan, presented the Caspian flotilla, operating as part of joint Russian-Kazakh-Turkmen fleet under formal Russian control (in the case of a local conflict they can come from the authority of the Russian command), and a small river on the Amu Darya flotilla. Of the Navy Turkmenistan, there are five patrol boats “Grif-T”, two missile boats of the project 12418 “Lightning” and one patrol boat “point Jackson”. In fact, the Turkmen Navy is the weakest in comparison with the fleets of other countries in the Caspian sea. Most of the weapons and military equipment of Turkmenistan was made in the USSR and since then have passed, except that scheduled maintenance. On the current state adopted the country’s technology is not known.

Presumably in early 2010-ies in the armed forces of Turkmenistan began to develop crisis. Primarily this was due to the increasing demands for recruits. In particular, enlist in the Service of the presidential guard, State migration service and the Ministry of national security could only men in the family whom none of the last three generations was not brought to trial. In those years, several military offices in Turkmenistan complained that because the requirements in these groups is any shortfall.

In 2013 began to appear the first reports of the armed forces of Turkmenistan, the soldiers ceased to receive regular pay, which at that time in the real exchange rate was about $ 14. A year later the publication of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” published an interview with one of retired soldiers of the Turkmen army, in which he claimed that officials stopped issuing rations. However, they still have to sign the statements in his receipt.

All this has led to the deterioration of the moral climate in the armed forces: increased bullying and extortion by the officers. In the end, the recruits began to actively look for ways to get a deferral from military service, if not to avoid the draft. Cases of bribery of employees of military enlistment offices. According to various sources, in order to avoid military service you have to pay from 300 to 500 dollars depending on the area of recruitment. If you ask for help in the Central recruiting office for 1600-1700 dollars, you can buy a military ticket with all the marks of the passage of urgent service.

At the same time increased the outflow of young people from the country – people are trying to leave to study abroad and do not return before reaching 27 years. In 2013, the overseas student is about 12 thousand Turkmens. For comparison, in 2009 there were a total of about 2.5 thousand people. Today, according to various estimates, study abroad is more than 20 thousand Turkmens. In the fall of 2013 in Turkmenistan came into force a new presidential decree on the formation, extending the period of schooling from nine to 12 years. As a result, students in the school reach military age, but not subject to appeal, as we have not yet received a certificate.

Indirectly, a significant shortfall in call shows a secret longer life. According to the law on the armed forces, the period of service in the Turkmen army is 24 months, but often conscripts have to stay in the army for a longer period. Turkmenistan is partially inherited form of military service in the Soviet Union. In particular, the separation from service occurs after the signing and publication of the presidential order. However, in 2015, it was reported that in some parts of Turkmenistan conscripts continued to serve six to seven months after publication of the order on their dismissal to the reserve.

Against this background, the underfunding of the armed forces continues to grow. In particular, this autumn the military units have started to cut back on rations. As he wrote, “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”, on reduced rations, in particular, moved a military unit in Mary because there is not enough money to buy food. In order to somehow solve the problem with the food conscripts, in one of the parts was allowed to open a private dining room, where the soldiers could buy their own food. Thus instead of a monetary allowance conscripts usually receive a subscription to the newspaper “Esger” (“Warrior”) or “Goshun” (“Army”).

The deterioration of financing of the armed forces of Turkmenistan is just one of several testimonies shared economic deterioration in the country and reduction of state budget revenues. In June 2017, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that the system of social benefits has become completely ineffective and instructed them to cancel. We will remind that the law on informing the public to the free use of electricity, gas, salt and water was adopted in Turkmenistan in 1993 for a period of ten years, and in 2003, extended until 2030. While free products set the limits. For example, electricity was provided free of charge at a rate of 35 kWh per family member and 50 cubic meters of gas a month and 250 liters of water per day. However, from 1 November 2017 in Turkmenistan introduced new tariffs for water, electricity, gas and other types of services. Thus, the cost of tap water consumed in excess of the release limit increased 25 times (5 manats (us$1.4 at the official rate) for 10 cubic meters, and was 0.2 manats ($0,06) per 10 cubic meters).

The government of Turkmenistan explained the forthcoming abolition of benefits the growth of the population of the country – if the country’s economic situation was disastrous and the Turkmens were unable to pay their utility bills, now this problem is allegedly no. Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world in natural gas reserves. In addition, the country has substantial oil reserves. However, it seems that because of the closeness of the economy, a rigid vertical of power and the deliberate distancing of the authorities from the world’s political and economic developments Turkmenistan is unable to realize this potential, increasing budget revenues.

In 2015 began construction of TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India). It was assumed that this joint pipeline project with a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters of gas a year will allow to increase the income of Turkmenistan from the sale of natural resources. Initially to run the pipeline was planned in 2017, then the deadline was moved to 2018, and then 2019. While confidence in the last date, too no. Serious reasons for the postponement is actually two – a lack of funding and the escalation of the internal Afghan conflict against the background of infiltration into the country of militants “Islamic state”.

The weak economy may not be the key to a strong armed forces. A few years ago, the Turkmen army in their combat capability occupies a middle position in the region, surpassing the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but behind the armies of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Today the fighting capacity of the Turkmen army in force increased external threats and crisis in the economy is causing more problems. Most likely, the Republic still can resist the attempts of penetration on its territory of small fighting groups of insurgents, but in a hypothetical local conflict with any of its neighbors Turkmenistan without assistance cannot stand. The more she can’t handle a full-scale invasion of extremists from Afghanistan, separated from the Republic 300-kilometer border.

Today Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have friendly relations. In addition to the participation of these countries in the TAPI gas pipeline project in 2007, these States together have restored cross-border road around the Turkmen Serhetabat. In 2016, it opened the first phase of the Asian railway between Sochi Turkmen and Afghan Kamnasaran and Akinai. Earlier, the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov promised that Ashgabat will provide Afghanistan with all possible assistance in the postwar reconstruction of the economy.

Meanwhile, for the past couple of years on the Afghan-Turkmen border is constantly fighting. In the middle of last year, according to unofficial data, were killed several dozens of Turkmen soldiers. The increase in the number of such incidents may be linked with the arrival in the border provinces of Afghanistan, the Taliban, which from the interior of the country is gradually pushed back by Afghan and us military. The hotbed of ISIS activity in Afghanistan is still concentrated in the East of the country, near the border with Pakistan, and immediate threats to Turkmenistan, while not responsible.

The portal of the CIS. Today, with reference to the veteran of border troops of Turkmenistan Durdy charyeva wrote a few months ago that the weapons and equipment on the border has been modernized, built a new separation facilities and barracks. The veteran also talked about more serious training. Reliable information on the composition and armament of the border service of the country. In 2010 it was reported that in its composition there are three border guard, two of which were located on the border with Afghanistan.

Until 1999, there was an agreement on the joint protection of the Turkmen border, within which border security was provided not only Turkmen troops, but the Russian military. In 1999, Russian border guards left Turkmenistan at the request of the government of this country. Then the experts suggested that this was done to ensure that Turkmenistan was able to fully control the drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

Almost whole period of independence of Turkmenistan remained neutral, but it is unknown how this policy will be relevant in the coming years. Recently the Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov is quite common with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. So, in early October, the presidents signed the agreement on strategic cooperation, which implies, in particular, the increase of the turnover between the two countries. It is possible that in the end will be reached principally new agreement on military cooperation, which calls into question the neutral status of the Republic and force her to reconsider their views on neutrality.

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