The Pentagon will provide Uzbekistan with patrol boats and vehicles worth up to $6.2 million to help the country in its counternarcotics efforts, the U.S. embassy in Tashkent has announced.
The short announcement didn't detail the number or types of boats and vehicles, but it did say that they will be allocated to Uzbekistan's State Border Protection Committee of the National Security Service and the State Customs Committee.
Security along the Amu Darya river, which separates Uzbekistan from Afghanistan, has long been a priority of U.S. security assistance to Tashkent; even in the period between roughly 2004 and 2012 when military aid to Uzbekistan was restricted due to congressional sanctions, aid and training for border forces continued.
"In early 2007, the Department of Defense sold the Government of Uzbekistan fourteen patrol boats to promote the security of the Amu River, part of which runs along Uzbekistan's southern border with Afghanistan," reported one 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable. "The Border Guards Termez Riverine Squadron maintains and operates these boats, and DOD conducts annual training on the use of these craft. Training includes basic small craft maneuvering, maintenance, shallow river patrolling techniques, night patrolling, interdiction techniques and radar-assisted patrolling."
An additional five boats sold by the U.S. were missing motors and other parts, another 2008 cable noted, adding that "The addition of these patrol boats to the GOU's border security efforts represents a qualitative improvement in the ability of Uzbekistan to interdict narcotics and contraband leaving Afghanistan." The U.S. has also attempted to equip Afghanistan's security forces with boats to patrol the Amu Darya, but with less success.
In the last few years the U.S. has eased the restrictions on military aid to Uzbekistan, most notably with the donation of more than 300 armored vehicles. In February, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Rosenblum said that more equipment transfers were in the works: "At the moment we are in discussions about other potential equipment, but I can’t announce anything else here today."