First Battle Parade in Kazakhstan Marks Defender’s Day

ALMATY – On May 7, the first batle military parade in the history of independent Kazakhstan took place at the Otar military base to commemorate Defenders’ Day and the 21st anniversary of Kazakhstan’s military forces. The event was attended by the Supreme Commander of the country’s armed forces, President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Thousands of residents of the Almaty, Zhambyl and South Kazakhstan regions, including veterans of the Great Patriotic War as guests of honor, attended the event.

Land Forces Commander, Lt. Gen. Murat Maikeyev reported on the readiness of the nation’s forces to the Supreme Commander. Then, President Nazarbayev congratulated the participants. Every year, he said, the army conducts more than 250 field exercises in operational and fire training. The military parade showcased the army’s skills and training.

“This military parade involves 7,000 troops, more than 400 armoured and motor vehicles and 80 aircraft and helicopters. It is one of the largest displays of its kind we have ever held publicly,” the president said. “Concurrently, in the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan Navy ships will conduct live fire exercises. On this day, May 7, officers and soldiers are proving that they are true patriots and professionals, whose motto is ‘A strong army – a strong Kazakhstan.’”

The president said the country was proud of its army, and everything was being done to strengthen it. The state’s armed forces were equipped with modern military hardware, automated management systems and their combat training was improving. In 2012, a new law “On Military Service and the Status of Servicemen” was adopted. Sports complexes and apartments are being built in military bases around the country and servicemen are better paid.

“They say army discipline is tough, but it is the toughness of the shield, not of the yoke,” the president said. “The army is a reliable shield of our sovereign state, and holding it is not only a sacred duty, but also a great honour. Your service is a pledge of our independence and of peace in every family in Kazakhstan. I wish you good health and success in the service.”

After the president’s speech, the 1,700 troops held a parade march that included forces from the southern and western regional commands, units of the Airmobile and Missile Forces, naval infantry, the Republican Guard, internal security forces, Border Guards and cadets from military schools.

The troops marched in full gear wearing kevlar helmets, sun goggles, modernized Kalashnikov automatic rifles, and new-generation personal radios made in the country. They displayed the progress the army has made in the 21 years since independence.

The Otar base was chosen for the event as it is the largest in the country with a garrison of more than 5,000 troops and a suitable range for the display.

Striking power

The parade displayed single-stage solid-propellant ballistic missiles with an accurate range of 120 km (72 miles), Grad and Prima missile systems, howitzers, anti-tank guided missiles and Mi-24 tactical ground support helicopters.

The air defense units displayed the Pechora S-125 anti-aircraft missile system. Col. Zhasulan Berniyazov, commander of the air defense brigade, directed its live-fire exercise.

T-72B Soviet-era main battle tanks that had been upgraded at the Semei Engineering works then demonstrated their accuracy and fire power.

The combat units in the exercise also displayed their ability to conduct fast and covert movements and select appropriate positions to conduct accurate fire and use camouflage and protective concealment effectively. The exercise confirmed the ability of the forces to deal with a strong, well-equipped enemy in a rapidly changing tactical situation.

Combat aircraft provided some of the most spectacular moments of the parade. The Sukhoi Su-25 combat aircraft is the pride of the air force. Armored attack aircraft, equipped with laser sights can destroy targets in any weather conditions. Some 120 aircraft participated in the display. The combat aircraft flew at supersonic speeds from airfields at Zhetygen, Lugovoy and Almaty.

Su-27 and L-39 aircraft from the Zhetisu and Sunkar squadrons commanded by Deputy Chief of the Air Defense Forces, Maj.-Gen. Nurlan Ormanbetov and Col. Askar Izbasov performed stunt displays including forward loops, battle turns and loops.

The parade battlefield operations continued with online broadcasting from the Caspian Sea exercises. The artillery ship “Kazakhstan” fired dozens of missiles. The ship is equipped with modern communication, navigation and mapping systems. It can fire a salvo of 12 missiles simultaneously with a range of 20 km (12 miles).

New Tradition

The display also included an exposition of new equipment recently received by the army. Most of them are now produced and upgraded within the country at Kazengineering factories. They included tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, Eurocopter helicopters, Solntsepek heavy flamethrowers, military radios and night vision devices.

Defense Minister Adylbek Dzhaksybekov told the president that no neighbouring Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nations had any comparable weapons. He said the army was engaged in new training programmes and was prepared to conduct operations in night conditions, in the highlands and in all conditions. Dzhaksybekov said the army was focusing on the three goals of computerisation, robotics, and increased intellectual standards to meet the requirements of the 21st century.

The army has increased the range of its artillery systems, upgraded its communication systems and improved the level of combat and mobilisation readiness of its troops. The quality of their training has improved and their military discipline has been strengthened.

The president thanked the participants for demonstrating their combat skills and the effectiveness of their training. The event was a clear demonstration of the combat capability of the army and presented a good role model to the young generation, he said.