Good morning! My name is Sgt Brian Aitchison and I am the assistant to the Defence Attache here in Astana. The British Defence Section operates a full programme of bilateral military activities with the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan designed to support defence reform and enhance security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. One of the most important elements of the programme ties in strongly with the Republic of Kazakhstan’s solid resolve to send its Armed Forces on International Peacekeeping Operations.
Our bilateral military cooperation is always evolving and is achieved through annual Staff Talks between UK and Kazakhstan MODs. The most recent of these took place in London on 19 Dec 2012, where the military cooperation plan for 2013/2014 was agreed.
The UK has participated in the annual Exercise STEPPE EAGLE since 2003 and it became a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise in 2006. The exercise enables Kazakhstan’s Airmobile Forces Brigade (KAZBRIG) to prepare for deployment on International Peacekeeping Operations and this year should see NATO certification achieved.
The ability to undertake these operations requires good English language skills. Kazakhstan MOD recognises the importance in developing English Language Training and in Dec 2012 signed a bilateral MOU to further develop this activity. The direction of this activity is for the students to become the instructors and thus English language to become self-sustaining.
Additional development of military English Language Training, particularly leadership roles, is achieved through senior officer courses taking place at Royal College of Defence Studies and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK. Junior officer and SNCO development is achieved at York St John University in the UK and with the British Military and Advisory Training Team (BMATT) at Vyskov in the Czech Republic. Every year, approximately between 15 and 20 Kazakhs attend Peace Support Operations and Instructor courses in Vyskov. This year BMATT will provide an In Country Training and Assistance Team in Kazakhstan 10-28 June, which will provide useful learning and development as Exercise STEPPE EAGLE approaches.
UKTI Defence and Security Organisation participate biennially in KADEX. The MOD of the Republic of Kazakhstan has organised this exhibition in 2010 and 2012.
Finally, Kazakhstan MOD has played a key supportive role in developing the UK’s air and surface Transit Agreements, which will enable us to extract equipment following our withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The bilateral military cooperation between our 2 countries continually develops and our programme of activities help Kazakhstan MOD to achieve their targets of leadership development; improvement of English Language Training; International Security and the ability to deploy on International Peacekeeping Operations.
The 7th May marks the 21st Anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces. The British Defence Section enjoys an excellent working relationship with Kazakhstan MOD. From myself and all members of our team: