U.S. Slashes Military Aid To Central Asia
The U.S. has substantially cut its aid for Central Asian security forces, according to newly released Pentagon data.
The report (pdf) details spending under Section 1004 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the U.S. Department of Defense to train and equip foreign security forces involved in counternarcotics missions. In 2012, the Pentagon seemed to make Central Asia, in particular Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, a major focus. But according to the new data, that effort may have been abandoned.
The new data covers the first half of Fiscal Year 2014, from October 2013 through March 2014. Compared to the last full data (pdf), from 2012, there are big cuts across the board (even taking into account that the new numbers are for half a year, and the 2012 numbers for a full year):
Kazakhstan: $187,000 - from $8.7 million
Kyrgyzstan: $1.2 million - from $21.3 million
Tajikistan: $1.1 million - from $15.4 million
Uzbekistan: $156.000 - from $5.7 million
The training that took place under this program was directed less at the military and more at the security services like the GKNB; in 2012 the U.S. trained at least 350 GKNB officers from Tajikistan and 100 from Kyrgyzstan. (It was Tajikistan's GKNB, recall, which arrested political scientist Alexander Sodiqov and accused him of spying.)
Given that every country in the region seems to be getting its funding slashed, this would seem to be the result of a decision that Central Asia should no longer be a priority. (The invaluable Security Assistance Monitor, which published the new data, has an overview of the trends in 1004 funding around the world.)
Looking at the record of U.S. aid over the past few years on SAM (for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, for example) shows that 1. Section 1004 money made up a substantial portion of the total U.S. military aid package to Central Asian countries, often the largest single funding source; and 2. that the amount tended to fluctuate over the years. For Tajikistan, for example, the U.S. gave over $17 million in Section 1004 money in 2008, $1.3 million in 2009, and then $15.6 million in 2010. So this could just be one of those fluctuations.
But given that the aid was so clearly a quid pro quo in exchange for access to Afghanistan, it's not surprising that as that mission winds down, the aid is dropping. Meanwhile, of course, Russia is substantially increasing its military aid to the region -- again, focused on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.
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