Azerbaijan's Young Amateur Snipers
It was just a couple of weeks ago when international mediators called on Azerbaijanis and Armenians to pull back their snipers from the front lines of Nagorno Karabakh. To no one's surprise, neither side agreed.
And now, Azerbaijan has announced a new addition to its sniper corps. The unimprovably named Azerbaijan Voluntary Military Patriotism Technical Sport Society has started teaching sniper classes to the country's youth. From News.az:
[T]he courses purposed to prepare marksmen – snipers for the army and power structures. Drawing attention to Azerbaijani war conditions, the general added that snipers to be prepared in the courses would be completely ready for battle with the enemy: 'Snipers will study here masking, use of other weapons, topography. Along with studies on hand-to-hand fighting, snipers will also study law. Azerbaijani snipers differ from Armenians, because they never fire at peaceful people'.
AFP picked up the story, and emphasized a somewhat sensational angle -- the potential of young female snipers:
Azerbaijan on Tuesday launched sniper lessons for young people, including girls, amid its bitter unresolved conflict with neighbouring Armenia in which marksmen are often used on the front line.
Teens as young as 16 are taking part in the sniper courses for civilians, which have an upper age limit of 30, and participants will also learn about fighting techniques, weapons, map-reading skills and legal issues.
"This is to develop feelings of bravery and courage in young people, which will turn a teenager into a bold, fearless soldier in the future," said Walid Gardashov of Azerbaijan's Voluntary Military-Patriotic Sport-Technical Society, which is organizing the lessons.
This follows in at least two recent Caucasian traditions: the mysterious female sniper, and the inculcation of military attitudes in youth. No word yet on whether Armenians will try to close the young amateur sniper gap.