Siberian Old Believers train Russian special-purpose troops

Each serviceman taking part in the course was given five cartridges in the event they came across a bear. Photo: Terskol mountain training and survival center in Kabardino-Balkarian Republic. Source: Said Tsarnaev/RIA Novosti

Each serviceman taking part in the course was given five cartridges in the event they came across a bear. Photo: Terskol mountain training and survival center in Kabardino-Balkarian Republic. Source: Said Tsarnaev/RIA Novosti

With the Siberian Old Believers as their instructors and guides, a group of special purpose troops of the Russian military conducted a 60-mile experimental training exercise through the mountainous taiga in Siberia.

An unusual military experiment concluded in Siberia on July 27: A group of Russian servicemen from a special-purpose unit carried out a 60-mile “raid” through the wilderness. They were led by representatives of the local community of Old Believers – a staunchly traditionalist religious sect that split from the main Orthodox Church in the late 17th century.

The final five-day leg of the 30-day training course for special-purpose troops lay through the difficult terrain along the Maly Yenisey river in the Republic of Tuva, a Russian region bordering Mongolia.

Siberian Old Believers, who lead a secluded life and reject many modern conveniences, taught the elite servicemen how to find their bearings and feed themselves in the remote mountainous taiga.

The task of the troops procuring food was, however, complicated by some of the Old Believers’ traditions.

“They do not eat game with legs, such as hares or bears, but do eat the meat of cloven-hoofed animals. Forest birds and fish are also allowed, as are nuts and berries,” stated the press service of the Central Military District, which supervised the training.

Each serviceman taking part in the course was given five cartridges in the event that they came across a bear. However, there were no unexpected meetings with dangerous animals during the five days of their march through the wilderness.

To carry out the exercise, the military from the Central Military District had to reach an agreement with representatives of the local Old Believers’ community, TASS reported earlier. This somewhat unlikely and experimental cooperation between the military and the Old Believers came about because of the need to improve servicemen’s survival skills in a particular terrain.

“During training, we came across the problem that our instructors do not have sufficient survival skills in mountainous taiga. To improve combat training, we have for the first time recruited Old Believers as instructors,” the TASS report quoted General-Lieutenant Vladimir Zarudnitsky, the Central Military District commander, as saying.

Although the military commanders concluded that the experiment had been a success, representatives of the Central Military District have not yet disclosed whether this form of training will become part of the standard training programme.

An unusual military experiment concluded in Siberia on July 27: A group of Russian servicemen from a special-purpose unit carried out a 60-mile “raid” through the wilderness. They were led by representatives of the local community of Old Believers – a staunchly traditionalist religious sect that split from the main Orthodox Church in the late 17th century.

The final five-day leg of the 30-day training course for special-purpose troops lay through the difficult terrain along the Maly Yenisey river in the Republic of Tuva, a Russian region bordering Mongolia.

Siberian Old Believers, who lead a secluded life and reject many modern conveniences, taught the elite servicemen how to find their bearings and feed themselves in the remote mountainous taiga.

The task of the troops procuring food was, however, complicated by some of the Old Believers’ traditions.

“They do not eat game with legs, such as hares or bears, but do eat the meat of cloven-hoofed animals. Forest birds and fish are also allowed, as are nuts and berries,” stated the press service of the Central Military District, which supervised the training.

Each serviceman taking part in the course was given five cartridges in the event that they came across a bear. However, there were no unexpected meetings with dangerous animals during the five days of their march through the wilderness.

To carry out the exercise, the military from the Central Military District had to reach an agreement with representatives of the local Old Believers’ community, TASS reported earlier. This somewhat unlikely and experimental cooperation between the military and the Old Believers came about because of the need to improve servicemen’s survival skills in a particular terrain.

“During training, we came across the problem that our instructors do not have sufficient survival skills in mountainous taiga. To improve combat training, we have for the first time recruited Old Believers as instructors,” the TASS report quoted General-Lieutenant Vladimir Zarudnitsky, the Central Military District commander, as saying.

Although the military commanders concluded that the experiment had been a success, representatives of the Central Military District have not yet disclosed whether this form of training will become part of the standard training programme.

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