Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 21

At a recent meeting with United States military officials, the defense ministers of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have decided to hold the 1999 CentrasBat military exercise in May in the U.S. state of Louisiana. CentrasBat brings together company-size units from those three Central Asian countries, which field a joint peacekeeping battalion, as well as platoon-size units from several other post-Soviet countries, a sizable U.S. force, and military squads from several NATO countries including Turkey, as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

Kyrgyzstan’s first deputy defense minister and chief of staff, Major-General Ismail Isakov, announced the joint decision. He also announced the signing of a bilateral U.S.-Kyrgyz military cooperation agreement. It envisions, among other things, training of Kyrgyz officers at American military bases in Europe. Kyrgyzstan, furthermore, proposes forming a U.S.-Kyrgyz joint peacekeeping unit (Russian agencies, January 29).

The initiative, planning and financing behind the CentrasBat exercises are mostly American. The 1997 and 1998 exercises were held in September in Central Asia, with the landing of U.S. troops signifying a geopolitical revolution. For the first time in history, forces of an extracontinental, maritime and air power–presently the United States–asserted themselves in this region, which throughout history had been a preserve of the land forces of Eurasian empires, most recently the USSR.

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