Ashgabat, 2 August 2017 (nCa) — Turkmenistan conducted Tuesday counter-terrorism military exercises and President Berdymuhamedov showed some impressive marksmanship skills before the start of the exercise. A meeting of the national security council was held before the exercise and on conclusion of the exercise the entire security council led by the president rode their bicycles to the ministry of defence premises.
The Turkmen media billed it as counter-terrorism military exercise but, looking at the scale of response to the threat and the format of dealing with the threat, it was more like a hybrid military exercise.
The exercise took place at the southern edge of Ashgabat, close to a border point with Iran. The members of the national security council were in desert camouflage fatigues with full battle gear including the steel helmets and the backpack and hand weapons. The president was dressed in jungle camouflage and also had strapped to his waist the command and survival kit and the hand weapon.
The scenario of Turgen-2017, roughly translatable as Opponent-2017, starts unfolding with the reports that a small group of people, some of them riding an SUV, had crossed the border.
A DA-42 aircraft is scrambled to assess the threat and report the real time situation to the forward command post. DA-42 is an 8-seater produced by the Austrian manufacturer Diamond Aviation and it is successfully used by many countries in reconnaissance and surveillance role.
The first response after the precise information is received from DA-42 was to use the Russian made D-30 howitzers to slow the progress of the intruders and possibly to eliminate the threat partially.
Simultaneously, two Agusta-109 helicopters were dispatched to carry the elite troops to the area of active engagement and they were backed by several armored vehicles.
A drone relayed the real time situation to the command centre.
The air and ground assault, together surrounding the vehicles of the intruders by the armored carriers resulted in the liquidation of the threat. The N1MR transport and snipers took part in the final confrontation to ensure minimum casualties on both sides.
The firefighting and rescue operations were carried out by an Mi-8 helicopter especially equipped with such facilities.
Some intruders tried to escape on foot but they were blocked and captured with the help of especially trained dogs. The TV footage shows one German shepherd bringing down two intruders and snatching pistols from their hands. An Alabay, the Turkmen Shepherd dog, was shown holding an intruder to the ground to allow its handler to affect the capture.
The intruders were a group of 10-15 people, equipped with automatic and semi automatic weapons.
President Berdymuhamedov used four weapons to demonstrate his marksmanship skills.
Using a long range sniper rifle fitted with a telescope, and a mid range SMG, mostly used by the elite troops, also equipped with a telescope, the president traced a tight patterns on the target.
With an automatic pistol, using both hands for the first five rounds and only one hand for the next five rounds, the president managed to hit the bull’s eye eight out of ten rounds. This was impressive considering that the accuracy of hand weapon is entirely a matter of hand-eye coordination and steadiness of the hand when firing the weapon.
Even more impressive was the act of throwing knives (commando dagger) at the target sketched with a head and torso torso. The president threw three knives, hitting the chest, the throat and the head.
On completion of the military exercise, the president led the entire national security council team in a bicycle ride that terminated at the offices of the ministry of defence.
Earlier, Berdymuhamedov chaired a meeting of the national security council which started at 3:30 am. The heads of armed forces and law enforcement agencies presented reports for the period Jan-Jul 2017.
Interior minister Mulikov reported that some employees of his ministry were caught in trafficking of narcotics and cases against them were in process in the courts of law.
The president gave him severe reprimand for ‘weakening the control over the activities of the subordinate services.’
The head of the state service for combating economic crimes, Chakiyev, reported that some incidents of corruption had been detected at the Turkmenbashy refinery and the people involved in those cases had been brought before the courts.
The president underlined that the most important task before the national security council was the maintenance of security and law and order before and during Ashgabat 2017.
This exercise was quite different from the previous such exercises.
An obvious difference was that the president and the heads of armed forces and law enforcement agencies had the combat and survival kits strapped to their waists. Of course, in case of an actually incident of such nature, they will not confront the threat in person. This was more of a visual inspiration for the troops.
It connects with the fact that immediately before the exercise the president showed his remarkable marksmanship skills which he had been honing since his school days when he won several national-level contests.
In this age of Internet and global connectivity, mostly negative role models are grabbing the attention of the youth. It has become necessary for the people in leadership positions to come up with positive examples from their personal conduct. This is the role the president of Turkmenistan and his national security team seemed to be filling during the military exercise.
The youth, mainly the teens, look for inspiration and they will attach to it if it appeals to them, whether it is positive or negative. There is a dearth of positive role models and Berdymuhamedov with his team can certainly fill the vacuum.
The display of the marksmanship skills by the Turkmen president also shows that he expects from the troops what he can actually himself do. This is a cardinal principle of management, both military and civil – the leader should be able to do what he expects his subordinates to do.
Another difference was that comparatively lesser resources were used to counter the threat. This is possibly attributable to better training of the elite troops and the improvement in the gathering and relay of real time intelligence.
Militaries around the world are becoming lean and muscular – even China has reduced some 300000 troops and yet improved the combat-effectiveness of its PLA – there is no reason why Turkmenistan should not do it. As a matter of fact, Turkmenistan is doing just that in successive steps, now quite close to the vision of liquidating a threat as soon as it seems to appear at the borders.
The exercise showed that Turkmenistan is aware of the evolving nature of the threat.
The terrorists these days are in a position to simultaneously present conventional and non-conventional forms of threat. They can be a band of a few people doing hit and run operation, or sending suicide bombers, and they can be well equipped and well trained armies of different sizes as we see in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.
As such, a small incursion by a regular army or an intrusion by a group of terrorists would virtually display the same nature and would need the same kind of response.
This military exercise, and the laborious process that goes into training the troops for such exercises, is a long-term investment of Turkmenistan.
If the quality and nature of training will keep pace with the emerging threats, and there is no reason to argue why it would not, Turkmenistan will have in several years a large portion of the male population capable of being mobilized for dealing with such threats. Since every male citizen, on the completion of the conscription period, gets transferred to the reserve cadres, there would be men in every city and town, able to scramble at short notice to defend the country against any threats. /// nCa