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  • Kazakhstan Army: strengths and weaknesses
6 May, 2020 16:18

Kazakhstan Army: strengths and weaknesses

Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces were established on May 7, 1992 by the Decree of First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. For 2020, Kazakhstan is ranked 63 of 138 out of the countries considered by the annual GFP review. The Global Fire Power ranking utilizes over 50 individual factors to determine a given nation's PowerIndex score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography. It should be noted that last year the Global Fire Power ranking gave Kazakhstan the 54th position. Now we are trying to find out what led to a decrease by 9 levels.

Kazakhstan Army: strengths and weaknesses | Strategy2050.kz

At first glance, the ranking looks strangely enough. We have no questions to the top five: USA, Russia, China, India and Japan. But the high positions of some countries may be surprising.

For example, the armed forces of Egypt are the 9th in the world, Indonesia – 16, Vietnam – 22, Thailand – 23. On the other hand, the army of economically developed country such as Finland is in the 59th place, UAE – 45, New Zealand – 79, Belgium – 70, the Netherlands – 36.

Kazakhstan is located between Azerbaijan (64) and Serbia (65), on the one hand, and Portugal (61) and Bulgaria (62), on the other. At the same time, among Central Asian countries Kazakhstan assents to Uzbekistan only (52). Turkmenistan is ranked 77, Tajikistan – 94, Kyrgyzstan – 98.

Not enough manpower

According to Global Fire Power, about 8.6 million men reside in Kazakhstan (45.8%), 6.5 million of which are fit-for-service. This only 57 position out of 138. At the same time, 259 thousand men (1.4%) reach military age annually. This is only the 70th placement in the world (69 in 2019). Total military personnel amounts to 132 thousand people, while there is no reserve military manpower in Kazakhstan at all, according to the draftsmen.

Furthermore, Global Fire Power considers that the large number of populations can play a decisive role in any conflicts, particularly drawn-out ones. Those nations with inherently large overall populations will, rather appropriately, be capable of offering more personnel that are fit for military service. This assumes able-bodied persons suitable for the fighting and material production involved in waging a long-running campaign. That is why, China and India with more than one billion people will have more chances to win.


In air service strength Kazakhstan ranks 45th in the world. At the same time, the strength of fighters earns the 29th place in the rating (31 in 2019), dedicated attack – 14 (30 in 2019). Transports in Kazakhstan have decreased their rating – 44nd (39 in 2019).

There are still problems with trainers. Kazakhstan has only 18 units. This is 78th placement (64 in 2019). The number of country's attack helicopters has also decreased – 35th position (26 in 2019). It is subject to the total strength of helicopters, as well – 53 out of 138 (47 in 2019).

Land forces

In comparison with the previous year, Kazakhstan has improved its position by the tank strength. Global Fire Power placed our country in 29 (33 in 2019). But the remaining performances have worsened. Kazakh Armed Forces’ armored vehicles are ranked 63 (53 in 2019), towed artillery – 32 (19 in 2019), rocket projectors – 32 of 138 (10 in 2019). Self-propelled artillery took the 21st placement last year. According to the Global Fire Power ranking, this year Kazakhstan has no self-propelled artillery – 138 of 138.

Naval forces

In 2019 Kazakhstan had serious problems. Last year Kazakhstan’s Navy occupied only 89th placement in the world. According to Global Fire Power, the Navy of Kazakhstan had only patrol crafts at its disposal. This year the situation has improved slightly. The Naval Forces of Kazakhstan include 2 mine warfare warships – 51 of 112.

By the way, according to the draftsmen, North Korea has the strongest Naval Forces in the world.

Natural resources

In the opinion of experts, Kazakhstan does not have problems with fuels. According to their information, the country ranks 14th in the world in terms of oil production and 51st in its consumption. As a result, proven oil reserves are enough to be in 12th place.


As for logistics, the compilers of the rating point to the weakness of the merchant marine strength (57th place), implying its small number. Also, Kazakhstan cannot impress with the roadway coverage (45th place) and serviceable airports (56th place). The number of ports and terminals has decreased, having worsened the country’s position from 57 in 2019 to 62 in 2020.

But there are some pluses as well. The railway coverage in Kazakhstan is ranked 18 in the world.


Theoretically, the country is particularly invulnerable to invasion from the sea due to short coastline coverage (106th place, only Jordan and Bosnia and Herzegovina follow). But in terms of the length of shared borders, Kazakhstan is in 5th place. From the point of view of the compilers of the rating, this is bad, it is much more difficult to keep longer-spanning borders under constant control.


In addition, Kazakhstan is not among the countries that spend large sums of money on defense. According to Global Fire Power, the defense budget of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan amounts to 4 billion US dollars. According to this indicator, the country occupies only 52nd placement in the world (59 in 2019), located between Malaysia (51) and Bangladesh (53).,