Government approves plan for future Czech army role

Photo: archive of Czech Army

The Czech government has approved a plan for the future role of the country’s military designed to reflect the new security climate across Europe. Thousands of new professional soldiers are to be recruited, and aging technologies replaced or updated.

Photo: archive of Czech Army
The proposal has been two years in the making, compiled jointly by experts from the Ministry of Defence and the military. It is designed to offer a roadmap for the Czech armed forces until the year 2025, reflecting current and anticipated needs. In a closed-door meeting on Monday, the Czech cabinet met to formally approve the two-stage plan. In the first stage, the army will expand its professional soldier numbers and replace aging and outdated technologies – such as its BVP-M2 infantry fighting vehicles – by the year 2020. In the second phase, existing technologies are to be augmented and supplemented by 2025. According to Army Chief of Staff Josef Bečvář, the aim is to create active task forces capable of carrying out required missions both at home and abroad.

Senator František Bublan, chair of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Committee gave his take to Czech Television on the government’s approved military plan:

“The army has been under-funded for a long time. The army carried out its own audit and then offered its opinion on where greater resources were required, including where certain defence systems, or weaponry, or expert personnel were lacking. This served as the foundation for formulating this conception, which is designed to address these issues. The end aim is to ensure we can defend ourselves. Although we have a professional army, past budget cuts have caused such deficits that it will take a number of years to put the military back on a more secure footing.”

František Bublan,  photo: Martin Vlček / Archive of Czech Parliament,  CC BY 3.0
A separate plan dealing with policing matters – including upping police numbers at airports and other – similar facilities, as well as ensuring tighter border controls – is still to be formally approved by the cabinet. Existing proposals envisage 740 new foreigners police between 2016 and 2020, 430 new transport police and around 2,000 extra police to deal with crime, law and order. Additionally, hundreds of millions of crowns are to be spent to further improve security at airports, chiefly Václav Havel Airport in Prague, while regions are also to have rapid response units available in the event of pressing security incidents.

Both the military and police conceptions are a reaction to increased public concerns over security across Europe in light of recent terrorist attacks by Islamic State and fears related to the ongoing migrant crisis.