Discussions of the military aspect of Kazakhstan's "multi-vector diplomacy" usually conclude that, whatever happens with oil and gas and other trade, the country's armed forces are likely to remain oriented toward Russia. That's because language limitations mean Kazakh officers who train abroad are most likely to do so in Russia, and of course because the military's legacy equipment and doctrine is Russian.
That's why an interview that Kazakhstan's defense minister gave to Kazakhstanskaya Pravda this week is kind of curious (not online; via BBC Monitoring). The language that he uses to describe the direction the military is going in will be unmistakeable to anyone who follows the Pentagon:
The main principle that we are using in building our armed forces is a brigade-based army. ... a compact, mobile and effective armed force which would be able to carry out the whole spectrum of tasks connected with the state's military security ... improve the communication system and electronic forms of military management.
Whole-spectrum, brigade-centric, network-centric... sounds straight out of an Art Cebrowski briefing from the early 2000s.
But, the Kazakhs could also just be learning to talk the talk: The U.S. has also just opened a language-training center in Almaty, apparently to get Kazakhstan's peacekeeping soldiers to speak better English to be able to better serve abroad. Said the U.S. ambassador at the center's opening at the end of last month:
It represents another step forward in our close security cooperation, a facet of the ever deepening strategic partnership that exists between Kazakhstan and the United States. As Kazakhstan continues to expand its participation in international leadership circles, exemplified by its current OSCE Chairmanship, the United States believes it will continue to play a larger role in Central Asia, as it did, as it did under President Nazarbayev's leadership, during the recent crisis in Kyrgyzstan. And as Kazakhstan steps up its support of coalition efforts in Afghanistan, through both its generous humanitarian assistance and its support of the Northern Distribution Network for supplying coalition troops, it is showing that it is poised to assume its place as a 21st-century global leader.