Klaus concerned over perception of army as expeditionary rather than defence force

Czech President Václav Klaus has voiced concern over what he sees as a growing perception of the Czech Army as an expeditionary force rather than a national defence corps. Speaking at a meeting of army commanders on Thursday, Mr Klaus said the organisation’s structure, outfitting and traditions were beginning to correspond to that image, held both inside and outside the army, to the detriment of its primary, domestic, role. The president believes that the recent scandal involving Nazi symbols worn by Czech soldiers in Afghanistan is a direct result of this popular conception of the army as “the special units that we know from action films”. Prime Minister Jan Fischer later said that there was no intention of the Czech Army resigning on its current missions. Mr Klaus’ comments he said were intended as a warning that the army view its duties comprehensively and not focus solely on foreign missions.

The Czech head of state is also the commander in chief of the country’s armed forces. Czech soldiers are currently involved in larger-scale missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.