Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Қазақстан Республикасының Қарулы Күштері (Kazakh)
Qazaqstan Respublikasynyŋ Qaruly Küşterı
Вооруженные силы Республики Казахстан (Russian)
Kazakhstan Armed Forces Flag
Coat of Arms of the Kazakh Armed Forces
Motto"Сильная Армия - сильный Казахстан!" (Strong Army - Strong Kazakhstan!)[1]
FoundedMay 7, 1992
Service branchesService branches
   Kazakh Ground Forces
  Kazakh Air Defense Forces
  Kazakh Naval Forces
Independent formations
  Kazakh Airmobile Forces
  Special Forces
HeadquartersMinistry of Defence Building, Dostyk Street, Nur-Sultan
Commander-in-chief Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Minister of Defence Nurlan Ermekbaev
Chief of the General Staff Major General Murat Bektanov
Military age18–27 years old;
ConscriptionOne year
Active personnel108,740 (2019) (ranked 45)
Reserve personnel132,000 (2019)
Percent of GDP1.1% (2018 est.)[2]
Domestic suppliersJSC National Company Kazakhstan Engineering
Foreign suppliers Canada
 United States[3]
Related articles
HistoryCivil war in Tajikistan
Iraq War
RanksMilitary ranks of Kazakhstan

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстанның Қарулы Күштері, Qazaqstannyŋ Qaruly Küşterı) is the unified armed forces of Kazakhstan. It consists of the Ground Forces, Air and Air Defence Forces, Naval Forces, and National Guard. The national defence policy aims are based on the Constitution of Kazakhstan. They guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state and the integrity of its land area, territorial waters and airspace and its constitutional order. The armed forces of Kazakhstan act under the authority of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence.

The Military Balance 2013 reported the armed forces' strength as; Army, 20,000, Navy, 3,000, Air Force, 12,000, and MoD, 4,000. It also reported 31,000 paramilitary personnel.[4]

General composition

The facade of the defence ministry.
The facade of the defence ministry.

The branches and subordinate bodies of the armed forces include:[5]


Armed Forces shoulder sleeve insignia
Armed Forces shoulder sleeve insignia

On May 7, 1992, the President of Kazakhstan took a number of actions regarding defence. He signed a decree on the 'establishment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan', the transformation of the State Committee of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan into the Ministry of Defence, on the attribution of Sagadat Nurmagambetov the military rank of Colonel General, and the appointment of General-Colonel Sagadat Nurmagambetov as Defence Minister of Kazakhstan. Mukhtar Altynbayev served as the Minister of Defence twice, most recently from December 2001 to 10 January 2007.

On June 30, 1992, the Soviet Armed Forces' Turkestan Military District disbanded, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The most powerful grouping of forces from the Turkestan Military District then became the core of Kazakhstan's new military. Kazakhstan acquired all the units of the 40th Army (the former 32nd Army) and part of the 17th Army Corps, including 6 land force divisions, storage bases, the 14th and 35th air-landing brigades, 2 rocket brigades, 2 artillery regiments and a large amount of equipment which had been withdrawn from over the Urals after the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

On July 6, 2000, a Presidential Decree "On the structure of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan" changed the structure: The Armed Forces returned to a dual structure (general-purpose forces and air defense forces). The Airmobile Forces were created, the transition to the new military-territorial structure, established military districts, harmonized structure and deployment of troops. On August 7, Lieutenant-General A. B. Dzharbulov was appointed commander of the Southern Military District and Lieutenant-General E. Ertaev became commander of the Eastern Military District.

In February 2001 a Presidential Decree divided the functions of the Ministry of Defence and General Staff. According to the decree, the head of the General Staff subordinates all kinds of aircraft and type of troops and military districts, while the Minister of Defence has a mostly administrative and political functions. On March 30, Major General M. K. Sihimov was appointed commander of the Western Military Region. On October 12, M. Saparov was appointed to Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy of the Defence Minister. V. B. Elamanov became commander of the Airmobile Forces. On December 8, a new Defense Minister was appointed: General K. Altynbayev, and on December 27, Major General K. K. Akhmadiev was appointed commander of the Air Defense Forces.

Key defense posts announced early in 2002 included; Major-General Tasbulatov appointed Deputy of the Defense Minister, Maj. Gen. Elamanov commander of the Southern Military District, Maj. Gen. N. А. Dzhulamanov commander of the Eastern Military District, Maj. Gen. Zhasuzakov commander of the Airmobile Forces, Major-General A. Shatskov commander of the Central Military District and K. Altynbayev given the title of Army General.

Kazakhstan had its first military parade in its history at Otar Military Base on May 7, 2013, celebrating the Defender of the Fatherland Day as the national holiday for the first time ever. During the ceremony, the first woman was promoted to the rank of General.[6]

Today there are four regional commands: Regional Command Astana, Regional Command South at Taraz, Regional Command East at Semipalatinsk, Regional Command West at Aktobe, as well as the Air Defence Forces, the Airmobile Forces with four brigades, and the Artillery and Missile Forces (formed as a separate branch on 7 May 2003).[7]

Kazakhstan is a founding member of CSTO and SCO. Kazakhstan also has an Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO[8] & strategic cooperation with the Turkish Armed Forces.[citation needed][9]

Ground Forces

Main article: Kazakh Ground Forces

Regional Commands of Kazakhstan
Regional Commands of Kazakhstan

The 32nd Army had been serving in Kazakhstan for many years. The 32nd Army had been redesignated initially the 1st Army Corps (1988), then the 40th Army (June 1991). It came under Kazakh control in May 1992. On November 1, 1992, on the basis of units of the former Soviet 40th Army of the Turkestan Military District, the First Army Corps was created, with its headquarters in Semipalatinsk.[10] Later, at its base was established the Eastern Military District, retitled on 13 November 2003 as Regional Command East.

Today the Ground Forces include four regional commands:[11]

There are also the Air Defence Forces, the Airmobile Forces with four brigades, and the Artillery and Missile Forces (formed as a separate branch on 7 May 2003).[7]

Ground forces equipment

An Otokar Cobra
A T-72 main battle tank
A T-72 main battle tank
Name Name Origin Type In service Notes
Armored fighting vehicle
Russia Main battle tank 300[12]
Russia Tank Destroyer 10[13]
Soviet Union Amphibious APC 190[14] of which 44 are the 82A variant
Russia APC, MRAP 18[3]
Otokar Cobra
Turkey Infantry mobility vehicle 17+[3] +30 unit ordered[15]
South Africa APC 90[3]
United States Armored car 40[3]
Soviet Union RECCE 40[16]
Soviet Union RECCE 60[17]
Soviet Union IFV 500[18]
Soviet Union APC 107[18]
Ukraine APC 3[18]
Soviet Union APC 150[18]
2S1 Gvozdika
Soviet Union Howitzer 120[18]
2S3 Akatsiya
Soviet Union Howitzer 120[18]
Semser Israel/Kazakhstan Howitzer 6[18]
Soviet Union 122 mm Gun 100[18] 300 D-30 in store[18]
Soviet Union 152 mm Gun 50[18]
Soviet Union 120 mm MOR 68[18]
Soviet Union MRLS 100[18] 100 in store[18]
Russia MRLS 3[18]
Soviet Union MRLS 6[18]
Lynx Israel/Kazakhstan MRLS 18[18]
9P140 Uragan
Soviet Union MRLS 180[18]
Cardom Israel/Kazakhstan MORTA 18[18]
9K79 Tochka
Soviet Union Surface-to-Surface

Missile Launcher

Soviet Union SAM 10 battery[18]
S-300 Soviet Union SAM 10 battery[18]
Soviet Union SAM Unknown
Soviet Union SAM Unknown
Soviet Union/Russia SAM 1 battery +1 battery ordered[19]
Soviet Union SAM 50 unit[18]

Air Assault Forces

Paratroopers of the 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade
Paratroopers of the 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade

The Airmobile Forces were formed by grouping the 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade with new brigades formed from previous Soviet units. The 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade arrived from Germany in April 1991, and was taken over by Kazakhstan in 1992. Near Karaganda was the 5204th Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment, the remnants of a motor rifle division.[20] In 1998 two motorized rifle brigades were created from the former storage base. One of which was left near Karaganda, and another called 2nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade and was relocated 200 kilometers to the north of Nur-Sultan, which by that time was the capital, and for that reason ought to have a decent court garrison. No units were stationed in Nur-Sultan (Astana) during the Soviet period. In October 2003, the 36th Separate Air Assault Brigade was formed on the basis of the 2nd Motor Rifle Brigade. On the basis of Taldykorgan Motor Rifle Regiment, 173rd Sary Ozekskoy Motor Rifle Division, in April 2003 was formed the 37th Separate Air Assault Brigade. In 2017, the Airmobile Forces were renamed to the Air Assault Forces. [21]

Air and air defence forces

Main article: Kazakh Air Defense Forces

Air Force roundel
Air Force roundel
Air Force bases of Kazakhstan.
Air Force bases of Kazakhstan.

At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the 24th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division with three aviation regiments and three separate regiments was stationed in Kazakhstan.[24] By late 1993 the Kazakhstan Air Force comprised a total of six regiments, with a further air defence fighter regiment. The 11th Division included the 129th Fighter-Bomber Regiment based at Taldy Kurgan, with MiG-27 'Flogger' aircraft and the 134th Fighter-Bomber Regiment at Zhangiz-tobe with MiG-27s. There was also the 149th Bomber Regiment at Zhetigen/Nikolayevka, with Sukhoi Su-24 'Fencers'. Independent elements comprised the 715th Fighter Regiment at Lugovaya, with MiG-29s and MiG-23 'Floggers'; the 39th Reconnaissance Regiment at Balkhash, with MiG-25RBs and Su-24MR "Fencer" aircraft, and the 486th Helicopter Regiment based at Ucharal with Mi-24 'Hind'. The sole air defence fighter aviation regiment was the 356th Fighter Aviation Regiment at Semipalatinsk with Mikoyan MiG-31 "Foxhound" air defence fighters, which had been part of the 56th Air Defence Corps of the 14th Independent Air Defence Army.[25] The Air Force was under the command of Major General Aliy Petrovich Volkov.

Air Force 12,000 (incl Air Defence) 1 air force division. Pilots fly approximately 100 hours per year.[clarification needed]

Today the Kazakh Air and Air Defence Force has four fast jet bases:[26]


Current inventory

A Kazakh Sukhoi Su-27
A Kazakh Sukhoi Su-27
A Kazakh Su-25
A Kazakh Su-25
Antonov An-72 of the Kazakh Air Force
Antonov An-72 of the Kazakh Air Force
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat aircraft
MiG-29 Soviet Union multirole aircraft 15[27]
MiG-31 Soviet Union Interceptor aircraft 25[27]
Sukhoi Su-25 Soviet Union CAS 14[27]
Sukhoi Su-27/Su-30 Soviet Union Air Superiority/Multi Role Fighter Su-27/Su-27BM2 and Su-27UB/Su-27UBM2/Su-30SM 24/24


24 Su-27 and 16 Su-30 on order[27]
Antonov An-12 Ukraine heavy transport 1[27]
Antonov An-72 Ukraine heavy transport 2[27] STOL capable aircraft
CASA C-295 Spain transport C-295M 8[27] 1 on order[28]
Mil Mi-17 Soviet Union utility Mi-8M/17 49[27]
UH-1 United States utility helicopter UH-1H 3[citation needed]
Mil Mi-35 Soviet Union helicopter gunship 12 on order[27]
Mil Mi-26 Russia heavy lift / transport 2[27]
Eurocopter EC145 Germany utility 12[27] 20 on order[27]
Trainer aircraft
Aero L-39 Czech Republic jet trainer 17[29]
Zlin 242 Czechoslovakia trainer aircraft 1[27]
Unmanned aerial vehicle
CAIG Wing Loong People's Republic of China MALE UCAV 2[30]
Future purchases

On 28 October 2010, two strategic agreements signed today establish the framework for Eurocopter's creation of a 50/50 joint venture with Kazakhstan Engineering Kazakhstan to assemble EC145 helicopters, along with the sale of 45 of these locally assembled aircraft for government missions in the country.[31] On 28 November 2011, Eurocopter delivered the first of six EC145s ordered to date by the Kazakh Ministries of Defence and Emergencies.[32] Deliveries are to continue through 2017.

On 3 January 2012, Airbus Military signed a firm contract with Kazspetsexport, a state company belonging to the Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan, to supply two EADS CASA C-295 military transport aircraft plus the related service support package for spare parts and ground support equipment. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed for a further six C295 aircraft, for which separate firm contracts will be signed progressively over the next few years. The first two aircraft will be delivered by April 2013 and for the remaining six aircraft a delivery schedule will be defined over the following years. This purchase likely represents a quid pro quo. In 2008, EADS made titanium sourcing agreements with Kazakh suppliers.[33]

In May 2012, Kazakhstan signed a letter of intent to acquire 20 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters. They were to be assembled in Nur-Sultan by Kazakhstan Engineering.[34] These Eurocoptors will be fitted with modern systems made by the Turkish firm Aselsan.

Naval Forces

Main article: Kazakh Naval Forces

Kazakh naval emblem
Kazakh naval emblem
Naval Ensign of the Kazakh Naval Force
Naval Ensign of the Kazakh Naval Force

Kazakhstan's Naval Forces were established by presidential decree on 7 May 2003 in spite of being the largest landlocked country on earth. They operate on the Caspian Sea, based at Aktau. The Kazakh Naval Force has a strength of 3,000 personnel and is equipped with fourteen inshore patrol craft.[35]


Vessel Origin Type In service Notes
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Missile boat 4[36][37] Kazakhstan class
Türk Turkey patrol boat 2[38]
OPV-62 Israel patrol boat 2[38] Pacific-class
Shaldag Israel Go-fast boat 6[38] Assembled in Azerbaijan
10750E harbor minesweepers Russia minesweepers 2 The first vessel was commissioned in 2017[39][40]
Project 01340G Russia Research vessel 1 The ship is known to be a Hydrographic ship. the vessels name is Zhaiyk[41][42]

The naval aviation base in Aktau was opened eight years later, in 2011. The 612th Airbase in Aktau will provide the home for two Su-27 fighter jets, seven Su-27 pilots and twelve helicopter gunship pilots, according to a report in Interfax-Kazakhstan (not online, via BBC Monitoring). The report doesn't specify the model or number of helicopters, but it is presumed they are Mi-24s.[43]

Security agencies and commando units

Republican Guard performing precision drill
Republican Guard performing precision drill

There are a number of special forces units reporting to various Kazakh security agencies that are not part of the Armed Forces. Examples of this include the Arystan Commando Unit and the Border Guard of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan (KNS). Additionally, a State Security Service for the presidency exists, which is not considered as a part of the Army. The Republican Guard was established on March 6, 1992, when the President of Kazakhstan signed a decree on their creation on the basis of a separate brigade of operational designation of the Internal Troops deployed in the village of Kaskelen district of Almaty region.[44]

Women in the military

There are approximately 8,000-8,500 women serving in the Kazakh army.[45] Of those women, 750 are officers.[46] The Ministry of Defence has been working to promote women in the military through educational programs and career advancement opportunities. Only 2.1% of leadership positions within the Ministry of Defence are held by women.[47] The Ministry of Defence also hosts Batyr Arular, which is a nationwide competition for service men and women, showcasing their combat skills, combat readiness and overall physical ability. Batyr Arular gives awards for the best service women.[48]

Educational institutions

A hall in the National Defense University featuring national symbols as well as a photo of its patron, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in full dress uniform.
A hall in the National Defense University featuring national symbols as well as a photo of its patron, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in full dress uniform.
Cadets of the Military Institute of the Kazakh Ground Forces march in the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

Higher educational institutions

The following institutions are the main military academies in Kazakhstan:

Other militarized educational institutions

Secondary schools

Zhas Ulan Republican Schools

There are currently four secondary schools that take the name of "Zhas Ulan Republican School". The Astana branch was the first to be founded, being established on 4 November 1999 in the presence of President Nazarbayev and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.[50]

Karaganda Republican Military Boarding School

The Karaganda Republican Military Boarding School with in-depth study of the Russian language and literature and enhanced military-physical training (RSHI) was formed by the by decree of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan on 27 June 1984, with the task being to train Soviet officers from among the national cadres. On 9 July 1992, it was renamed to the Karaganda Republican Military Boarding School (KSWS) and has since 4 August 1992, been named after two-time Hero of the Soviet Union Talgat Begeldinov. Over its thirty years of existence, it has produced over 25 graduating classes.[51]

Specialized Lyceum "Arystan"

The Arystan lyceum began operating in January 2011, with students from all regions coming to study at the lyceum from the ninth to eleventh grade. It is sponsored by the Nazarbayev Foundation. Heavily entrenched in the army way of life, there are 21 military officers and 5 military specialists who work at the lyceum, which also allows for basic military training and the promotion of discipline. The lyceum has its own flag like a military unit, as well as an emblem, oath of allegiance, and code of honour. In April 2013, President Nazarbayev described the lyceum as "a good example of participation of private capital in expanding access to qualitative education". There have been six graduating classes, of which many have entered military educational institutions of Defence Ministry, Nazarbayev University and Eurasian University, as well as educational Institutions of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the United States.[52]


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