After 17 years of drilling with U.S. and British forces during regular Steppe Eagle peacekeeping exercises, Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces flew solo in October 2020 by organizing the country’s first comprehensive peacekeeping exercise.
More than 1,000 troops took part in drills attended by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. He observed troops performing missions in the field, but also toured classrooms that prepared peacekeepers in engineering, linguistics and medicine.
Though intended to prepare troops mostly for service outside Kazakhstan’s borders, such training proved useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Soldiers helped enforce quarantines and deliver aid.
“Military officers have been on the front lines during this crucial moment. Soldiers and officers showed an example of true courage for their fellow citizens. I express gratitude to all military officers serving in the fight against the pandemic,” the president said.
Kazakh forces have served in United Nations peacekeeping missions for more than a decade in places such as Nepal, Côte d’Ivoire, Western Sahara and Lebanon. Kazakhstan’s government formalized that role with the passage of a peacekeeping law in 2015.
A force of 120 Kazakh peacekeepers has participated in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since October 2018, rotating in and out of the country roughly every six months. UNIFIL patrols southern Lebanon’s border.
Up to now, Kazakh peacekeeping troops have mostly staffed checkpoints and conducted patrols. But the country is expanding its range of missions by employing combat engineers, Army doctors, intelligence officers and military police.
“We have made a significant contribution to strengthening international security,” President Tokayev told troops at the exercise. “Being a peacekeeper means being a peace ambassador. You have accomplished this task decently, and you have enhanced your combat skills during these exercises.”
Source: The Astana Times