National Guard

July 20th, 2016 Sections: Calendar, Contemporary Kyrgyzstan, Organizations
The MiG 21-F on Kievskaya

The MiG 21-F on Kievskaya

In the center of Bishkek there’s a great photo opportunity … along Kievskaya there is a MiG 21-F fighter plane mounted on a pedestal.   (I wrote a postcard about it a few years ago).

It is one of a number of similar monuments around the country; such as planes – as here and outside Tokmok, and Tanks – for example in Balykchy and Naryn.

It stands outside the headquarters of the National Guards.

Although I find the plane interesting and dramatic, personally, I prefer the two stylized statues that flanking the entrance to the building … one a soldier in Medieval attire, and the other his modern counterpart in a flight suit.

Today happens to be the Day of the National Guard here in Kyrgyzstan.

The National Guard is an elite unit of the country’s Armed Forces, which consist of various bodies and compounds, units and institutions of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Interior, the National Guard, the State Committee for National Security, the Border Patrol, and the organs of military justice.

It was created by a President Askar Akaev in 1991, for the protection of the constitutional system, the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, participate in the protection of important state objects, ensure social events and rituals at a meeting of foreign delegations, as well as to perform other important tasks defined by the leadership of the country.

In that respect, it actually predates the formation of the Armed Services of the Kyrgyz Republic, which date their origin to a Presidential Decree of January 13th, 1992.  The concept was for a small

The Constitution stipulated that the country had no goals of expansion, aggression and territorial claims, resolved by military force, and rejected the militarization of public life and the concept of war.  The purpose of having any armed forces were: self-defense and the idea of “defensive sufficiency”.

The basic concept was that the organization, structure and combat strength sufficient for fulfilling the tasks of ensuring the security and economic opportunities of the state – with the ability to adequately address any increasing military threats, maintaining readiness for mobilization and, if necessary, combat; all subject to national and international law and the peaceful use of the experience of military personnel, facilities and capabilities.

To fulfill these loft aims, it was envisaged that there was a need for small, compact and mobile armed forces – equipped with modern weapons and other equipment, to operate at high altitude, and with a short reaction time.


The National Guard are organized into three operational units … Bars (Snow Leopard), Edelweiss and an airborne battalion, Panther – which is deployed at the former American Air Base/Transit Center at Manas Airport, just outside Bishkek.

Even TASS, the Russian news agency, commented on the irony of this, given that one of the reasons given for the decision to close the American airbase was a reluctance to have a military base, (admittedly one accommodating and supporting foreign troops) at a civilian airport).

They saw service for a five year in the 1990’s, helping to guard a 100 kilometer section of the Tajik border with Afghanistan – the country’s first military combat mission.

It hasn’t all been uninterrupted success.  Apparently, Akaev’s successor, Kurmanbek Bakiev, chose to disband the National Guard in 2009 … but it was later reconstituted.

The cynic in me notes with interest that it has only recently been announced that Russia is also in the process of introducing reforms in her military … and have just formed a new National Guard, combing units from independent various units, to serve as an elite force … so, for once, Kyrgyzstan had stolen a lead on their big neighbour.


Every year on July 20th the Day of the National Guard is celebrated, to mark the historic occasion in 1992 when the first cohort took the oath of allegiance to the country and the people, and began to carry out their duties.

Last year, the day was marked by the creation of a base for the Panther rapid reaction battalion, at Manas airport, just outside Bishkek.





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