Major General Elamanov Uali Besakanovich answers the questions of Oasis, who graduated from Russian military colleges and held command positions in the Russian and Kazakh armies, for example, the chief of staff of the General Purpose Forces and the first commander of aero-mobile forces of the armed forces of Kazakhstan. He retired in 2004 from the post of commander of the Southern Military District (Southern Regional Command).
The period of the formation of the armed forces of the republic has been forgotten by many. Remind the main problems that then existed.
Then everything was a problem. To begin with, the 40th Army was stationed in the Kazakh SSR, which was organizationally part of the Central Asian Military District, whose command was located in Tashkent. And the command tried to transfer certain material resources to Uzbekistan. We urgently had to create our own structure for military construction, the State Committee on Defense, and only after that we managed to put an end to this problem. Subsequently, on the basis of the Committee, the Ministry of Defense was established. It is extremely important that these structures were headed by an exceptionally authoritative and professional person - General Nurmagambetov, Hero of the Soviet Union.
Those material and technical resources that remained to us from Soviet times were more than enough for the army. But maybe the biggest problem was over the years personnel. By the time of the collapse of the USSR, the Kazakhs among the officers of the units deployed in the republic had a strength of 0.7%, and therefore when the outflow of officers and soldiers went to their home republics, the personnel issue became very acute. And this problem was until 1997. For example, in my brigade, the officer corps was replaced by about 80% twice. Only by the mid-1990s did the situation stabilize when we began to recruit the officer corps mainly with national personnel or those non-orders who decided to stay here. It should be noted that it was very correctly decided not to emphasize any additional actions in the service in the Kazakh army, such as taking the new oath. This psychologically facilitated the choice for many officers. And in some post-Soviet countries it was.
Over the years, the structure of the armed forces has gone through several stages of reform. Was it right to do it during their construction?
The reform took place in connection with the change in the military doctrine of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The first military doctrine of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan was adopted in 1993 and lasted until 1999. It focused on the formation of the armed forces. Then the second - until 2005, it can be called the doctrine of their development. In 2006 - the third, which is aimed at improvement. In the context of these documents went the structural formation of the army.
Indeed, first the corps system was adopted, then the district one, and now the regional commands. Now there are 4 regional commands, separately - airborne and air force. This is a complete and optimal structure in our conditions.
Returning to the problem of training military specialists, is it possible to say that this problem has now been solved?
I would say that this problem has been largely solved, but it’s too early to talk about a qualitative leap. A number of important steps have been taken in this direction. For example, highly professional teachers with academic experience, invited from Russia, work at the Academy of the Armed Forces. But we must remember that the training of commanders is not only in educational institutions, but primarily in the army, and it was in this process that the breach of the principle of continuity (again, the outflow of officers in the early 1990s) turned out to be a big problem. There were situations when the platoon commander had a company commander only one year older than him in his seniority; he himself had not yet formed at his post, and was already forced to teach other officers. I think that still need 5 - 7 years to finally close this problem.
Army funding, which was very low in the first years of its construction - how do you rate it now?
The practice of allocating for this 1% of the country's GDP, which is quite effective. In my opinion, now there is enough money, provided that they are properly distributed.
Three years, as in Kazakhstan adopted a contract system. Now, as you know, there is a mixed principle of recruitment, but according to the plans of the Ministry of Defense, as a result, there should be only 15% of the draft staff. And this trend is clearly visible. It has already been decided to call for military service for a year. There is no doubt that such a policy for recruitment is correct, but is it realistic to recruit a sufficient number of qualified contract servicemen?
Yes, there is such a problem. Nowadays, mainly those who served in military service in 1992-1997 go to the army. Then, due to understandable general circumstances of the time, they did not engage in full combat training, it’s difficult to call them ready and qualified professionals. They need to cook. Perhaps, before you call, they should be sent for retraining in specialties for several months. But, of course, gradually the quality of contract soldiers will increase without it, during the service in the army.
The military-technical base of Kazakhstan still rests on Soviet and Russian weapons and equipment. What will happen in the future?
Yes, weapons and equipment in general remained the same as they were in 1970-1980. And it is not even “mostly”, but exclusively all Soviet and Russian. Only in the airmobile forces used some, mostly automotive equipment, American-made. And that, as a rule, during the participation of the peacekeeping battalion Kazbat during the peacekeeping operation in Iraq due to the fact that there participate the contingents of the armed forces of the NATO countries. In this situation, you need the uniformity of the equipment used.
I think that absolute Russian dominance in this area will continue in the future. If only because re-equipment, technical re-equipment of the armed forces is an extremely expensive undertaking.