The United States supports the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. We partner with these countries on security cooperation-related issues, both bilaterally and via regional, and multilateral fora like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Partnership for Peace program, and the United Nations.
The United States aims to foster a stable and prosperous Central Asia that is free to pursue political, economic, and security interests on its own terms, with partners of its choosing; a Central Asia that is connected to global markets and open to international investment; and a Central Asia with strong, democratic institutions, rule of law, and respect for human rights. A stable and secure Central Asia contributes directly to U.S. efforts to counter terrorism, support regional stability, promote energy security, and enhance economic prosperity in the region and beyond. Cooperative efforts with Central Asian partners counter security threats to the region that otherwise might threaten U.S. interests abroad or the homeland directly.
U.S. security cooperation programs in Central Asia work to counter transnational threats such as terrorism and narcotics trafficking, provide secure borders, promote professionalization of security forces, and advance respect for rule of law and human rights. Central Asian states support stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and are key contributors to future peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.
The United States has $79 million in open government-to-government sales cases with the Central Asian states under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. Uzbekistan is purchasing equipment, valued at $40 million, for its armed forces through a combination of national funds and Foreign Military Financing (FMF).
Central Asia FMF historically has ranged from between $3-5 million per year, though Congress appropriated $10 million in FY 2021. The United States, under the FMF program, has supported border security and counterterrorism capabilities of partner security forces in Central Asia, including through the provision of vehicles, communications equipment, training, and sustainment. Over the past five years the United States provided approximately $2 million annually in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding to the five Central Asian states, supporting the attendance of foreign military personnel at U.S. military education and training programs.
The Central Asian states also purchase defense items and services through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). In fiscal year 2019, the authorized DCS value was $5,473,009 for Kazakhstan, $2,562,694 for the Kyrgyz Republic, and $1,337,794 for Uzbekistan.
Conventional Weapons Destruction priorities for Central Asia are to prevent the illicit transfer of small arms, light weapons, and conventional ammunition; mitigate and prevent unplanned explosions at munitions sites; and clear legacy landmine contamination, unexploded ordnance, abandoned ordnance, and other explosive remnants of war. After thirty years, these explosive hazards still cause injury and deaths and prevent the safe and productive use of scarce agricultural land and resources. Since 2011, the United States has invested over $4 million to prevent proliferation, support regional security, and to build national capacity through a military stockpile reduction initiative in Kyrgyzstan. Since 2006, the United States has invested over $22 million to build national capacity, clear legacy landmine contamination, reduce national stockpiles of excess and obsolete conventional ammunition, and to educate at-risk populations of explosive hazards within 1,000 meters of villages, towns, and high-traffic areas.
The United States and Uzbekistan signed a Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement in 2016. In August 2019, Kazakhstan entered into a General Security of Information Agreement with the United States. For over a decade, several Central Asian countries have enabled U.S. logistical support for operations in Afghanistan through multiple transit agreements.
From 2007 to present, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan have received $16.2 million to support peacekeeping capacity building via the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). At present, only Kazakhstan is an active GPOI partner, having deployed an infantry company with India to Lebanon (UNIFIL). Additionally, Kazakhstan has registered additional critical enabling units with the United Nations for future deployments.
In 2019, Tajikistan’s MOD hosted U.S. Central Command’s regional multilateral exercise, REGIONAL COOPERATION 19, which focused on fostering cooperation among Central Asian military and civilian organizations through planning scenarios for disaster response operations. Participating nations included the United States, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, and an observer from Pakistan. Notably, this exercise was the third time Tajikistan had hosted REGIONAL COOPERATION in five years.
In April 2020, Kazakhstan sent experts to MINURSO in Western Sahara. Kazakhstan first sent 120 peacekeepers to the UNIFIL mission in October 2018.
Since 2002, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have engaged in Exercise STEPPE EAGLE, an exercise that improves mutual understanding and interoperability among participating nations and helps promote regional stability in this vital area of the world. This annual exercise also highlights the capabilities of the Kazakhstani Ground Forces. Steppe Eagle drills have been held in Kazakhstan every year since 2003, except 2014 and 2018. The 2018 exercises were held at McCrady Army National Guard Training Centre in South Carolina.
The State Partnership Program has built enduring security cooperation and people-to-people relationships between the United States and Central Asian partner military forces through regular exchanges focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, crisis management, border security, officer development, and other areas of mutual interest. Since 2002, the Virginia National Guard and Tajikistan have engaged in the State Partnership Program. The Arizona National Guard and Kazakhstan share a more than 26-year relationship through the State Partnership Program. The Montana National Guard State partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic began in 1995. Over 850 Kyrgyz have visited Montana on exchanges since the first visit in 1996. Uzbekistan and the Mississippi National Guard have worked together through the State Partnership Program since 2012. Turkmenistan partnered with the Nevada National Guard from 1996 to 2011. The United States and Turkmenistan have expressed interest in re-establishing a pairing through the State Partnership Program. In addition, in 2018, the Tajikistan Peacekeeping Battalion of the Mobile Forces and the 648th Military Engagement Team, Georgia Army National Guard, engaged in a three-week, military-to-military engagement involving border security and mountain warfare techniques.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.