Kazakhstan’s armed forces are stepping up training for unmanned aerial vehicle operators and artillery units in light of the ongoing war being waged by Russia in Ukraine, Deputy Defense Minister Sultan Kamaletdinov has said.
Kamaletdinov told reporters on February 23 that lessons on how drones can be better used for the purposes of reconnaissance and improving the accuracy of artillery assaults are being learned from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Changes in tactics are just one part of a larger picture.
The country’s overall military doctrine has undergone a severe revision in the year since Russia began its invasion. While being careful to avoid giving the impression that they harbor concerns Kazakhstan too could one day succumb to similar aggressive action from Moscow, military planners clearly have that prospect in mind.
In November, the Defense Ministry adopted a revamped military doctrine that President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev described as having been crafted to “adequately respond to new threats and risks.”
The doctrine dwelled, among many other things, on the need to protect the nation’s frontiers by equipping border and aviation forces with “modern weapons and military equipment.”
In speaking further on how the Ukraine war has forced Kazakhstan to rethink its defenses, Kamaletdinov noted that particular attention is being paid to optimizing the efficacy of artillery forces.
"The use of rocket forces and artillery has become the most substantial and distinctive feature of combat training," he said.
Last April, Kazakhstan committed an additional 441 billion tenge ($1 billion) to its defense needs in 2022. The government had said the December before that it would be spending 859 billion tenge on the military, policing and emergency services.
The bulk of that enhanced spending was earmarked for boosting the number of special forces units operating under the auspices of the Interior Ministry, the National Guard, and the Defense Ministry, as well as acquiring more equipment, including military transport aircraft.
As far as sourcing drones is concerned, Kazakhstan now boasts some domestic production capacity. In May, it reached an agreement with Turkish company TUSAŞ to begin manufacturing ANKA attack drones under license.
Kazakhstan had previously invested in Chinese-made Wing Loong attack drones and Skylark reconnaissance drones manufactured by Israel.