Tajikistan is planning to create "special reconnaissance units" to guard the border with Afghanistan, a senior security official has said.
The units will be part of Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security (known by its Russian acronym, GKNB), which oversees the border, according to the commander of the border forces, Radzhabali Rakhmonali.
"The situation on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border is complex. In Kunduz, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces the 'Taliban' movement is working actively. So it's been proposed that we restructure the border forces and form special reconnaissance units," Rakhmonali said in parliament on Friday. Last week, Tajikistan suspended operations at its consulates in Kunduz and Badakhshan because of security concerns.
More than 1,000 troops will serve in the new units to start, a military source told AFP. Radzhabali also said that "there are financial means" for attracting more contract troops to the border force.
The proposed restructuring also would make the commander of the border forces responsible directly to the president rather than to the government as is the case now. The restructuring has been approved by the lower house of the parliament, and must be approved by the upper house and then the president. Given the top-down nature of politics in Tajikistan, there's no reason to believe the proposal won't be eventually approved.
The detriorating security situation in northern Afghanistan has become one of Tajikistan's primary security concerns (albeit a grossly exaggerated one) and a focus of Dushanbe's security policies. In his annual address to parliament this week, President Emomali Rahmon claimed that "the activities of terrorist organizations are expanding more and more, and their activities, including in our neighbor Afghanistan, are making the situation more and more difficult."
Деятельность террористических организаций все больше расширяется, еще больше осложняет ситуацию их активизация, в том числе в соседнем нам Афганистане.
It's not clear how these "special reconnaissance units" will perform differently than the current border guards, other than possibly increasing the number of professional troops, rather than conscripts, guarding the border. (The border guards who were kidnapped for several months last year by the Taliban, for example, were conscripts.)
It's also worth noting that earlier this month it emerged that the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russia-led military alliance that also includes Tajikistan, would be holding its first-ever military reconnaissance exercises in Tajikistan in April.