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Centrasbat: Central Asian Joint Operations


The following is a list of articles collected about joint operations held between the United States and several Central Asian countries. 

A comment follows that summarizes the current status of the Centrasbat project.


On September 15, [1997] 500 U.S. troops parachuted into southern Kazakstan along with 40 Kazak, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek soldiers from the Central Asia Battalion. The paratroopers boarded planes in Fort Bragg, NC for the 7,700 mile non-stop flight, the longest military expeditionary flight in history. A total of 1,329 soldiers — including forces from Russia, Turkey, Georgia, and Latvia — took part in the week-long peacekeeping exercises led by the United States.

General John Sheehan, commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, said the message the United States is trying to send is "that the Central Asian republics live in stability." He added that if the United Nations ever decides to authorize a "peace support operation" involving Central Asian forces, "then the United States is ready to stand beside them and participate." Russian General Vitalii Sokolov said similar exercises "must be held as often as possible."

by the Center for Political and Strategic Studies

 U.S. Troops Could Fight Within Russia

Unprecedented: 500 U.S. paratroops jumping out of their aircraft over Kazakstan, a remote fragment of the old Soviet empire.

The 19-hour, nonstop, three mid-air refuelings trip was more than just pulling off a nifty feat for its own sake. "It is a dramatic demonstration of U.S. interests in the region," said senior Pentagon official Catherine Kelleher. "Interests" is a diplomatic term of art. Kuwait was a U.S. interest. It means that the United States now feels it has a definable stake in Central Asia. Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are believed to sit on vast reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals.

The exercise is a dry run of a multinational peace-keeping operation but with a combat element: the need to quell renegade separatist forces backed by outside powers. In any actual intervention, we would be partners with the Russians who have a very great interest in the stability of these former Soviet republics.


 US Plays High-Stakes War Games in Kazakstan

SHYMKENT, Kazakstan--

                The US military, underscoring Washington's growing interest in ensuring the stability of oil-rich Central Asia, projected its power into the heart of the former Soviet Union yesterday with a large-scale military exercise in Kazakstan.

                Five hundred troops of the 82nd Airborne Division flew 19 hours and 7,700 miles to join a week-long joint exercise with 40 airborne troops from three Central Asian States and soldiers from Russia and Turkey. The exercise is remarkable for its location in Kazakstan, a huge republic that until recently was part of the Soviet empire, and for including troops from America's former archenemy, Russia, in a US-led operation. Russia and Turkey each conducted separate, 40-soldier parachute drops yesterday. Small contingents from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Latvia are also taking part.

                The operation is yielding dramatic evidence of how US power is rising and Russian power waning in Central Asia, which has long been in Moscow's sphere of influence. US economic interests in the region are expected to grow: Central Asia contains huge oil deposits, and Russian companies have joined some projects being led by major US oil companies.

                One gloating US soldier said the Russians had to accept the new US role "or get out." Some Russians have indeed been unsettled. A group of 25 people demonstrated against the exercise outside the US Embassy in Kazakstan on Sunday.

                But the representative of the Russian defense ministry, Commander Alexander Mikhailov, articulated what senior US officers say is a new spirit of participation apparent in the past two months. "The world has changed," said Commander Mikhailov, once the deputy captain of a nuclear-attack submarine. " We are no longer enemies. Nobody dictated any conditions to us. Their opinion and our opinion is the same: to cooperate."

                The three sometimes-feuding Central Asian states of Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic are working together in the exercise, known as Centrasbat '97. The incoming troops are acting out a scenario of supporting the one-year-old, 500-strong Central Asia Battalion against "dissident elements." But the main purpose is to teach the three countries how to work with other nations' militaries, including standard North Atlantic Treaty Organization commands--to deal with troops who speak other languages and have different map-reading techniques and conflicting ways of giving orders. The Central Asia Battalion consists of a company from each of Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

                While the talk is of new cooperation between former Cold War foes, diplomats didn't dispute that the exercise also is meant to warn potential rival countries to the south: China, Afghanistan's Islamic fundamentalist Taliban militia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. " If they choose to take the message that this is our capacity for force projection, so be it," said one American diplomat.

                "The message, I guess, is that there is no nation on the face of the earth that we cannot get to," said US Marine Corps Gen. John J. Sheehan, the 57-year-old outgoing chief of the US Atlantic Command.    The US troops flew from Fort Bragg, N.C.  

by Hugh Pope, Staff Reporter of the Wall Street Journal

By word of mouth, I’ve heard that these exercises continued for several years.  The US goal is to promote stability in the region by getting the countries to work together.  Traditionally however, the countries involved are very competitive and the exercises began to seem more of a competition to show how good the militaries from each country had become and what they could do independently.  For this reason, these exercises are seen as unsuccessful by US leaders and may be discontinued.