Training Simulators, Household Appliances, Vitamins: How Conscripts Serve in the Kazakhstani Army

One of the military units is located in the town of Aktas, Karaganda region.

19/07/2023 - 18:57

Journalists from the editorial team have visited a military unit near Karaganda and witnessed a day in the life of conscripts.

A part of Kazakhstan's Air Defense Forces is stationed in the town of Aktas, which is a 20-minute drive from Karaganda. The strictly guarded area houses barracks, a parade ground, and a training area with pull-up bars and parallel bars.

45 young men were conscripted into the army as a group in the fall of the previous year, which eliminates the risks of hazing among the soldiers.

Nineteen-year-old Sergey Weber has been serving for nine months. During this time, he has become a senior driver. Before joining the army, he completed college with a degree in Interior Design and worked as a tattoo artist for over a year. He joined the army voluntarily, as all members of his family felt a duty to their homeland.

"When you come to the draft board in advance, you can find out which branches of the military are recruiting soldiers in which month. In November, they were recruiting for Air Defense, Emergency Situations, and Civil Defense. I chose Air Defense because it's a very rare opportunity. I don't have a single friend who is serving in Air Defense," Sergey shared.

The young men are preparing for field competitions. This is a significant opportunity for them, as this event only takes place once every two years, meaning the next group of conscripts won't have this experience.

"The combat competitions at the training ground are attended by the Minister of Defense, the Commander of the Air Defense Forces, and the Chief Commander of the Special Operations Forces. Firing from anti-aircraft missile launchers will be conducted. Instead of a target, a dummy is used on the range, simulating an enemy aircraft. Our task is to hit the target. This is the main combat objective," Sergey Weber explained.

The soldiers' day starts with reveille at 6:30 in the morning. The first thing the duty officer and the medical assistant do is conduct a physical examination to check for bruises, abrasions, scratches, and the like. If any are present, each soldier writes an explanatory note detailing how and under what circumstances the injuries were sustained. This measure has been in place since 2016 and is conducted every morning and evening to prevent fights among the soldiers.

An hour is allocated for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dining hall is located in the barracks building. During the winter and spring, the soldiers are provided with vitamins – ascorbic acid. From the soldiers' emotions when discussing the food, it's clear that the menu lacks variety but includes everything essential to keep them nourished.

In the first half of the day, training sessions are conducted, resembling a school timetable with breaks between lessons. Lectures are given to the conscripts, and instructional and documentary films are shown. The topics covered in these sessions are wide-ranging, including armaments and military equipment, modern warfare, patriotic education, suicide prevention, extremism, terrorism, and others.

In the second half of the day, the young men work on their positions, which means working with military equipment. Weapon cleaning is done once a week. Closer to 21:00, personal time begins, during which the soldiers decide what to do. During this time, they can tidy up their uniforms by washing them in the washing machine, fixing collars, etc. It's worth noting that conscripts are issued with a ceremonial, everyday, and two work uniforms for the year.


During their free time, many of the young men engage in creative activities: they play musical instruments or create dioramas themselves. In the military unit, we were shown five thematic dioramas: "The War in Afghanistan," "The Battle of Stalingrad," "The Battle of Kursk," "Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan," and "The Vietnam War," which were created with the participation of all interested soldiers.

"These are just ordinary old shelves. We use readily available materials like foam, stones, tree branches, sand, clay, grass, and matches to create terrain. We choose a background image to recreate scenes of combat. We put up strings of lights to create lighting in the bunkers. Toy soldiers and military equipment are ordered on marketplaces," explained Major Ramazan Bakhtiyarov, the division commander for educational and ideological work.

The barracks house a multifunctional strength trainer, a punching bag, a stepper for walking, a table tennis setup, and the famous Leg Master, which soldiers can use in their free time.

At 22:30, after the physical examination, lights go out.

The narratives of our fathers' military service and those of modern soldiers differ significantly. There is no need to fear the army; however, preparing for a year of life in a male collective is essential, particularly mentally. Furthermore, the emotional atmosphere is given heightened attention within the military.



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