Regional anti-terror drills start in Kazakhstan
Joint anti-terror drills of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) entitled Peace Mission 2010 will start on Monday at the Matybulak range in the southeast of Kazakhstan, RIA Novosti reported.
The exercises will involve some 5,000 servicemen from five of the six SCO member states - Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan will skip the event.
Over 300 items of military hardware, more than 50 aircraft and helicopters from Kazakhstan, China and Russia will be employed.
Russia will contribute over 1,000 troops, some 130 armored vehicles (tanks, self-propelled artillery systems and infantry fighting vehicles), more than 100 trucks, and over 10 aircraft (including Su-24 Fencer frontline bombers, Su-25 Frogfoot close-support aircraft and Mi-8 transport helicopters).
The drills will test the interoperability of the SCO armed forces in rendering assistance to a member state involved in an internal armed conflict or subjected to a terrorist attack.
Established in 2001 as a non-military alliance, the regional mutual security group SCO initially aimed to deal with Islamic extremism and other security threats in Central Asia, but has since expanded its scope to include cooperation in disaster relief and trade.
The drills will be held for 17 days. The active phase will start September 24. SCO defense ministers will observe the exercises.