KADEX 2010, Central Asia's first defense expo, was not just an opportunity for Kazakhstan's military and defense industries to do deals, it was also a chance for the country to show off its armed forces.
Kazakhstan's military hardware and troops, especially the country's new elite airborne unit, took center stage during several days of displays. One of the demonstrations was for VIPs, which Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Abdullah Gul of Turkey attended.
The show was also popular among local families, who got a rare chance to see their country's fighter jets and helicopters. Organizers allowed visitors to climb on most of the equipment (the fighter jets were off-limits), and soldiers even let children pose for photos with their automatic rifles.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.