DUSHANBE, September 19, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- The command-and-staff drill for the Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF) of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), dubbed Center-2011, has been launched in Tajikistan.

Dmitry Matushkin, an assistant to the commander of the Russian base in Tajikistan, announced today the opening a four-day military exercise at the Lohour training grounds, located some 20 kilometers southeast of Dushanbe.

According to him, the purpose of the exercise is in rehearsing coordination and interaction in combat missions to destroy illegal armed formations.   The exercise will close on September 22 with a final phase featuring live-fire missions.  “Russia will be represented in the exercise by 650 servicemen of the Russian base in Tajikistan,” Matushkin noted.

The CSTO Secretariat reports operational groups of military contingents and special units of the interior ministries, security services and emergencies ministries of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan are participating in the exercise.

Besides, a joint tactical exercise for subunits of the CSTO Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian Region will be conducted in the framework of the strategic exercise, Center-2011, in Kyrgyzstan from September 19-22.  Subunits of armed forces from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan will participate in the exercise in Kyrgyzstan.

The regional security organization was initially formed in 1992 for a five-year period by the members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) -- Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which were joined by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Belarus the following year.  A 1994 treaty "reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force," and prevented signatories from joining any "other military alliances or other groups of states" directed against members states.  The CST was then extended for another five-year term in April 1999, and was signed by the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.  In October 2002, the group was renamed as the CSTO.  Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO on June 23, 2006; and its membership was formally ratified by the Uzbek parliament on 28 March 2008.  The CSTO is currently an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.