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The Border Guard of Kazakhstan; Astana, May 22 – 25, 2014

The Kazak Air Force, part 5; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The Border Guard of Kazakhstan is an organization which is using vehicles, heli- copters and aircraft to guard the borders with neighboring states of the country. With relatively limited resources, the Border Guard manages to keep the enormously long border lines of the country closed from smugglers and illegal people.

The Kazakh Border Guard (Қазақстан Республикасының Шекара қызметі) currently consists of more than 4700 employees. The organization exists since the breakup of the Soviet Union as an independent unit from 1992. After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was chaos in the former Soviet states. The Border Guard was established to monitor the boundaries of the newly independent country. The Border Guard is responsible for guarding the national borders on land, sea and the river borders against smugglers and people who cross the border illegally. The Kazakh Border Guard also protects the national economy and the environment of the country. The Border Guard is working for those reasons closely with the regional departments and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. To guarantee national security, the Border Guard is allowed to set up checkpoints where needed. The Border Guard is also allowed to use force or to deploy security forces. The Border Guard is generally supported by the local hired security, this usually happens at the airports. There are in Kazakhstan more than 160 official border crossings in use which are all checked by the Border Guard. More than 50 of these transitions are not easy to pass, because Uzbekistan has closed its borders with Kazakhstan. Besides the border crossings on land and airports, the Border Guard manages the international boundaries of the water in the Caspian Sea area. The Border Guard has a fleet of patrol vessels to guard those boundaries.

The headquarters of the Kazakh Border Guard is based in Astana. In addition to the headquarters, there are four Regional Border Guard establishments in the country. The first Border Guard complex is Ontustik in the south-Kazakhstan Oblast for guarding the border with Uzbekistan; the headquarters of this region is located in Shymkent. The second site is located in the Soltüstik Oblast in northern Kazakhstan where the Russian border is guarded; the headquarters is based in Ust-Kamenogorsk. The third complex is located in Batys in the Mangystau Oblast near the Caspian Sea to

monitor the Russian border in the Uralsk Oblast; the headquarters of this Border Guard is located in Aktau. The fourth and final region is the Shygys Oblast in eastern Kazakhstan for monitoring the Chinese and Kyrgyz border; the headquarters is located in Almaty. Each Regional Border Guard Department has several detachments (Пограничный Oтряд) which are each responsible for monitoring 40 to 100 kilometers of border. The main training facility of the Border Guard is the Military Training Institute in Almaty. It is a four year course for officers who will serve at the Committee for National Security and the Border Guard. The cadets are trained as all-round security officers and are assigned after their training as Border Guard. The graduated Border Guards receive a Bachelor's degree. The officers are rarely used in regions where they are grown up and they are re-assigned to a new unit in the country every three years.

In addition to the units on the ground, the Kazakhstan Border Guard has also a number of airborne units. The Border Guard is stationed at a total of four airfields in Kazakhstan. Three of these airfields are located around Almaty. At the airport of Almaty are An-26 and An-72/74 aircraft based for patrol flights. The Mi-171sh helicopters and An-2 patrol aircraft are stationed at the airport of Almaty/Boraldai. The third airfield near Almaty is Zhetygen where the An-26s are stationed. The fourth airfield is Aktau which is located in the far west of the country and includes continuous detachments coming from the other airfields. The Kazakh Border Guard has four An-26 "Curl" transport aircraft which are used for light transport flights and conducting patrols along the borders. There are two An-2TP "Colt" transport aircraft in addition to these aircraft in service with the Border Guard. The An-2TP is the troop transport version of the An-2 and has ten folding seats for Border Guard soldiers. The aircraft are also used for training flights and patrols. The An-72/74 "Coalar" transport aircraft are used for medium transport duties and can also be used as patrol aircraft. Recently, one of the An-72s crashed and all the passengers were killed in the accident. All of these aircraft of the Border Guard are perfectly able to land on unpaved airstrips. For transporting VIPs the Border Guard has a Yak-40 at Almaty.

The Kazakh Border Guard has also several helicopters in addition to the patrol and transport aircraft. In total, the Border Guard has more than 20 Mi-8T helicopters. Some of these helicopters will undergo a substantial modernization program in the coming years. The first helicopters are currently been updated in Almaty. The helicopters receive night vision equipment and FLIR pods during the upgrade. These helicopters will be mainly used at Aktau to patrol in the desert near the borders and the Caspian Sea in the southwest of the country. More than 20 Mil Mi-171sh helicopters are purchased by the Border Guard in addition to the modernized helicopters. The helicopters will be delivered in the upcoming years. The main tasks of these helicopters are securing the many border crossings of the country. The helicopters are also used to transport Special Forces to stop people who illegally cross the border. The Mi-171sh can be compared with its predecessor and can in addition be used at night for various patrol missions. The Mi-171sh is the export version of the Russian Mi-8AMTSh. The helicopter can be equipped with cannons and unguided rockets. Also, the helicopter can be equipped with chaff and flare pods for self-protection. The helicopter is very suitable to be used for the fast rope technique. A total of four soldiers are able to descend simultaneously from the helicopter because of its large size. The helicopter can carry 36 troops and twelve stretchers for transport of wounded people. With this helicopter the Kazakh Border Guard is able perform its tasks very well in the next years. The Border Guard has modern material which helps the organization to perform well under every kind of kinds of situations.

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