A training session conducted by POGA

By Arto Manoukian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator/Abaka

YEREVAN — Some people gather and organize rallies. Others respond to the call for the defense of their endangered homeland, where the enemy is standing armed and ready at the borders to advance further. One army, one nation is the motto for many of these groups of volunteers preparing for civil defense. They are training young people, and sometimes adults.

One of the POGA participants

Among these groups are Vova Vartanov’s Voghch Mnalou Arvest [The Art of Survival], Haykakan Legeon [Armenian Legion], and POGA (Betakanutyune Vorpes Geragoyn Arzhek, or Statehood as the Supreme Value]. This correspondent attended one of POGA’s training sessions in the Davitashen district. There were 8 people participating that day over a period of three hours, divided into sections devoted to first aid, war strategy and theoretical strategy. This particular group was enrolled in a 10-day-long program, but there are others that follow a more intensive three-month course.

First aid training at a course offered by POGA

The first aid training in this POGA session covered methods of intervention to stabilize bodily injuries, primarily broken bones. The well-versed instructor demonstrated how to use any available means for this purpose on a volunteer.

Training weapons used at POGA sessions

The second hour consisted of physically demanding and difficult field training in an adjacent school yard. The participants, equipped with knee and elbow guards as well as mock combat machine guns, went through field strategies, defense and attack positioning, protective positions against grenades, and advancing formations.

Some of the POGA training session participants with the author in front of a sign reading “Tomorrow we will harvest as a nation what we sow today”

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The third part of the evening concerned reading maps, geopositioning and territorial strategies.

After completion of either the 10-day or three-month course, volunteers will have acquired knowledge of self-defense, first aid, survival and combat techniques, mathematics, map reading, geopositioning, war strategies and much more. Young veterans were teaching the sessions as volunteers.

While there is an economic boom visible everywhere, people are getting ready for what appears to be the undesirable eventuality of war. At POGA’s headquarters, there was a long list of needed materials, ranging from protective wear to warm garments and medical supplies. POGA operates through fundraising and donations. The state is encouraging such groups but not financing them, as the army remains its priority.

Any assistance from the diaspora is welcome. For example, $15 would buy a set of knee and elbow protectors. For more information on POGA or to support it financially see http://poga.am/.

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