Central Asia: June 9, 2001


Kazakhstan has formed a Rapid Deployment Force in Almatry, which includes the airborne brigade and the peacekeeping battalion. Other units are to be added to the force. It is not entirely clear what missions such a force would be tasked with, but dealing with Islamic extremist rebels who operate across the various borders in former Soviet Central Asia would be the obvious choice. Kazakhstan has just reorganized its defense ministry, making a new deputy minister the chief of staff responsible for tactical and strategic operations. The defense minister will be limited to providing political and financial support for the military.--Stephen V Cole


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