By Maksim Yeniseyev
TASHKENT -- The latest crop of Uzbek military reservists is training now.
In May, the first recruits of the 2016 call-up began training in Tashkent.
Army newcomers are divided between those who qualify for for one year of active duty and the rest, who undergo monthly military training in a mobilisation call-up reserve (MCR) every year from the ages of 18 to 27.
Uzbek law "establishes compulsory military service ... for physically fit men aged 18 to 27 in peacetime", Musajon Akbarov, a spokesman for the Tashkent branch of Vatanparvar, a patriotic and pro-military organisation, told Central Asia Online.
The most selective form of compulsory service is the year of active duty. Young men compete for it because it comes with privileges like additional points on the nationwide university entrance exam.
Other forms include "one month of service in the reserve and regular contracted military service", Akbarov said.
Local draft commissions evaluate 18-year-old men who are called up. "They can decide whether to induct men into active duty or the MCR, rule them unfit for military service or issue a deferment," Akbarov said.
In Uzbekistan, "men compete seriously to wear a soldier's uniform", Sardor Akramov of Tashkent, who completed his obligatory service in 2013-2014, told Central Asia Online. "It was important to me to join the army because I want to work in the security agencies, which have hiring preference for veterans."
The conscripts who are not selected for active duty go to the MCR, where they have one month of training per year till age 27. The MCR draftees make a one-time payment of 3.2m UZS (US $1,100), which helps pay the salaries of the conscripts on active duty and pay the cost of training the MCR reservists.
The MCR reservists whose training began in May in Tashkent Military District are learning "military basics", like theory of combat, self-defence skills and engineering, Defence Ministry spokesman Chingiz Rayimberdiyev told Central Asia Online. They also "study IT", he added.
One reservist, Begzod Ulugbekov, credited the army for providing "good moral, psychological and physical training", according to the Defence Ministry press office.
"I don't have the slightest regret about going through military training in 2014," Aleksei Sedov of Tashkent told Central Asia Online. "I think the MCR is essential."