Georgia

Georgia plans military training in schools

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* Defence is the duty of all Georgians - Saakashvili

* Children to study military structure, weapons use

By Matt Robinson

TBILISI, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Georgia said on Wednesday it would introduce military training in schools, a throwback to Soviet-era defence classes following its crushing military defeat by Russia in August 2008.

The Defence Ministry announcement followed reported comments by President Mikheil Saakashvili on Tuesday in which he said military education in schools had been abolished in Georgia too hastily after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"As we have already seen, anything can happen, and Georgia and Georgians should be able to defend at least their village, their town or their district," Saakashvili was quoted as saying by Georgian news website Civil.ge.

Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia, 29, said military training would be introduced initially in senior classes in the next academic year, before being expanded to other age groups.

Children will study the basic principles of military training, the structure of the armed forces and will have the chance "to master the use of different weapons," he said.

"This is in order to give younger generations the chance to understand the importance of the military forces for the country, the purpose of military forces in the security of the country, and the duty of each citizen in this direction."

Akhalaia, who was appointed in August last year, said classes would be interactive and "much more interesting and involving" than the military training in Soviet schools.

Georgia's U.S.-trained military was routed in a five-day war with Russia when Moscow crushed a Georgian assault on the breakaway region of South Ossetia, ending in a chaotic Georgian retreat from Russian tanks that advanced deep into Georgia. (Editing by Matthew Jones)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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