. Uzbek president Islam Karimov awarded medals to a large group of Uzbek army and security officers on Motherland Defenders’ Day, marking the establishment of Uzbekistan’s national armed forces in 1992. The country inherited a considerable military infrastructure and a large amount of obsolete military hardware from the ex-Soviet forces. Addressing the country on the anniversary, Karimov described national defense and border protection as functions of a sovereign nation-state and praised the country’s progress toward building its own armed forces. According to Defense Ministry data made public on the occasion, ethnic Uzbeks now constitute 80 percent of armed forces’ personnel, as compared to the 6 percent among ex-Soviet troops based in Uzbekistan in 1992. (19) Uzbekistan has since established an Armed Forces Academy in order to minimize its dependence on Russia for officer training.