10 Armenian young men from around the world were “called up” for military service on August 21. They lived in military reality for 15 days, exercising, practicing shooting, visiting military units, combat position and bordering communities.
Executive Director of Arar George Tabakyan said that the program is aimed encouraging repatriation, as well as creating connection between young Armenian diasporans and the Armenian Army. The organizers hope that participants would probably wish to become a part of the Armed Forces, through which they discovered Armenia.
“The Armenian diaspora has mainly emotional perception of our Army. They have not yet understood what Army is about and why we attach so much importance to having one. The diaspora has always admired Armenian fedayis. Armenia needed them at some point in history, and of course, we are grateful and respect all of them. Nevertheless, it is necessary now to strengthen the Armenian Army, and professional military service is an important tool to bring our goal into reality. The work of servicemen should become attractive and demanded,” George Tabakyan said.
The program involves healthy young men (aged 20-35) without previous convictions, who did not escape military service. Soon after the completion of registration, the representatives of the program study all applications in detail. Participants take care of their transportation to Armenia and pay a fee that covers accommodation, food, uniform, insurance. The program received 15 applications this year.
32-year-old Davit Sargsyan left Armenia at the age of 8, and this was his first visit since. He says that his age and family status do not allow him to think about military service, yet he decided to see the Armenian Army with his own eyes rather than just listen to what people tell about it.
“First and foremost I wanted to visit Armenia. Secondly, I wished to get acquainted with the Armenian Armed Forces, live like a serviceman and see historical monuments, involved in the program.”
The organizers have not yet summed up Marar, but they already speak about successes. Participants understood what army is about and how it works. One of them even expressed the desire to get Armenian citizenship.
George Tabakyan said that diaspora has been highly interested in the Armenian Armed Forces after the April War in 2016. They have organized a number of fundraising campaigns, aimed at supporting the Army and families of the deceased. Many people in Armenia and diaspora asked themselves questions about their role and responsibilities if the situation repeats. The initiators of Marar hope that participation in this program will encourage young Armenians diasporans to fill the ranks of the Armenian servicemen.
“Around 800-1000 families repatriate to Armenia every year. They start businesses, create jobs and make investments. We are hopeful that there are also many Armenian diasporans ready to work in the Armed Forces. It is not about money, it is about the necessity of developing this profession in our country. Armenian Minister of Defense Vigen Sargsyan also noted that the Armed Forces are open to diaspora. We should make sure that if diasporans want to serve in the army, they can easily do it,” Executive Director of Arar said.
The initiative inspired both participants and servicemen. Major Vazgen Kocharyan thinks about welcoming a new group, while he has not yet said goodbye to this one. He remarked that the program was equally efficient for participants and soldiers.
“I and my fellow servicemen inspire our friends and relatives a lot when we tell them about professionals from various areas coming to Armenia from around the world to spend 15 days in the Armenian Army.
Participants can also tell their stories to everyone, describe what servicemen wear or eat, what kind of knowledge they get, so that their fellows also wish to serve in the Army.”
On September 3, the organizers will sum up the first stage of Marar and announce the start of the next one. The intervals between the stages will be determined depending on the number of applicants.
Military units are not yet ready to accept girls, but organizers plan their “call-up” in the future. Probably one of the groups will involve exclusively girls.
Photos: Arar Foundation