17.10.2018 Author: Dmitry Bokarev

The Commonwealth Of Independent States: Countering Terrorism Together

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The increasing global terrorist threat makes special services around the world always remain on guard and cooperate including participating in international organisations. The security agencies of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member states tested the efficiency of their cooperation by holding the joint manoeuvres titled Issyk-Kul-Antiterror 2018 in August – September 2018.

The CIS encountered the terrorist threat at the very beginning of its existence. The Soviet–Afghan War of 1979 – 1989 before the collapse of the USSR, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Tajikistani Civil War and the Chechen Wars against the backdrop of international terrorism gaining ground showed the Commonwealth states that all of them need to coordinate their actions for the sake of their own security; as a result, the CIS Anti-Terrorism Center(CIS ATC) was established in 2000. Since then, this organisation, whose headquarters are located in Moscow and whose leader is Colonel General Andrey Novikov, has ensured the cooperation between the security agencies of the CIS countries in countering terrorism, including organising joint manoeuvres.

In September 2016, the Council of the CIS State Leaders adopted the CIS Member State Cooperation Programme on countering terrorism and other violent manifestations of extremism for 2017 – 2019. The Document was based on the laws stipulated by the CIS Member State Constitutions and the previous agreements adopted over the recent decades, and takes into account the current antiterrorist situation. Furthermore, the Programme presupposes holding various events for maintaining security in the CIS by holding, among other things, manoeuvres of the security agencies.

The Issyk-Kul-Antiterror 2018 manoeuvres saw the participation of the security agencies of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The scale of the event is impressive both in terms of space and time. The manoeuvres comprised several stages that were held in the territory of all the participating states and lasted for over a month in total.

This series of events began with the exercise organised by the CIS ATC for the Commonwealth member states in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, in August 2018. The exercise involved the CIS Council of the Commanders of the Border Forces, the CIS Council of Heads of Tax (Financial) Investigation Bodies and the CIS Bureau for the Coordination of Efforts to Combat the Organized Crime. The main objective of the exercise was to prepare the participants for the first stage of the Issyk-Kul-Antiterror 2018 manoeuvres which was to be held in September 2018 in the territory of all the aforementioned member states. The plans for implementing the training assignments were discussed, as well as the means of communication, after which the CIS security agencies commenced their action. In early September, they carried out a search of ‘the sleeping underground terrorist groups’ and prevented a number of terrorist acts which the ‘terrorists’ were planning to carry out according to the legend. The objectives set were successfully met, which concluded the first stage of the manoeuvres.

The following stages of the manoeuvres that received most media coverage were held on September 24 – 26, 2018, in Kyrgyzstan, in the Issyk-Kul International Airport and in the Edelweiss mountain polygon, the security agencies of Kyrgyzstan and Russia became the main participants at these stages.

On September 25, the Issyk-Kul International Airport hosted one of the most exciting events on the agenda: a training operation of rescuing the plane passengers held hostage by the terrorists according to the legend. This operation was carried out by the units of the Kyrgyz State National Security Committee, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Emergency Situations with the participation of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

After that, the Edelweiss polygon held full-fledged military field training exercises with the use of heavy combat hardware. The Russian and Kyrgyz soldiers honed their skills of combating numerous terrorist forces and securing the strategically important districts and facilities. The exercise legend had it that illegal armed groups invaded the Kyrgyz territory in order to overthrow the existing regime, control the Kyrgyz territory and gain access to the strategically crucial region where the boundaries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan meet. The terrorist neutralisation operation involved a large joint army unit comprising over 2,000 soldiers from Russia and Kyrgyzstan equipped with cutting edge combat hardware and supported by the aviation.

Shortly before the exercise, over 600 Russian soldiers came to Kyrgyzstan from Tuva (Russian Federation). 50 pcs of combat hardware were transported from Tuva as well (self-propelled artillery platforms SAU 2S23, armoured vehicles Tiger, lorriesKamAZ, Ural, etc.), they belong to the mountain motorized rifle brigade of the 41th general army unit of the Central Military District of the Russian Federation. As soon as the equipment was unloaded in Kyrgyzstan, the convoy of combat vehicles went to the exercise venue.

Russia also shipped the mobile short-range ballistic missile systems Iskander-M and the multiple rocket launchers Grad to Kyrgyzstan for conducting live launches on the designated enemy positions.

Apart from that, 6 Russian Su-24M front-line bombers, Tu-95MS strategic bombers, Tu-22M3 long-range bombers, Su-25 jet fighters, Su-24MR tactical reconnaissance aircraft, Mi-24 attack helicopters and an Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle partook in the manoeuvres. The pilots trained in striking on the designated terrorist hideouts and their movement itineraries.

After defeating the designated enemy with the use of bombers and artillery, commando units landed to the combat area to neutralise the retreating ‘terrorists.’

On September 26, the Issyk-Kul-Antiterror 2018 manoeuvres ended. The commanders in charge of the operation reported complete extermination of the designated enemy and restored security in Kyrgyzstan and other countries that took part in the manoeuvres. It was noted that the Russian military relied upon their experience in Syria when choosing the right approach to action.

It is well known that the terrorist threat level is increasing in the CIS countries and in the world at the moment. That is why the armies and the security agencies of all the states must maintain their fighting ability and competences up to the mark. The Issyk-Kul-Antiterror 2018 manoeuvres were aimed at demonstrating that the CIS has the means to ensure its security and can use them efficiently. The fact that Russia remains the dominant military superpower in the CIS and that it is ready to assume responsibility for the security in the whole region was also demonstrated.

Dmitry Bokarev, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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