US General assesses plans for the reform of Czech armed forces

General-officer Dan Schroeder, photo: CTK

As a NATO member, the Czech Republic needs balanced armed forces which would both fulfil the needs of the country itself and meet the requirements of the Alliance concerning its quality, inter-operability and deployment.

Czech Defence minister Jaroslav Tvrdik asked retired general-officer Dan Schroeder, former serviceman in US ground forces, to do an assessment of his ministry's plan for the reform of the Czech armed forces. The main idea of the new concept is to create a smaller but capable army, which should be fully professional from 2006. General Schroeder has been independently working on the assessment of the plan since May and at a press conference he gave in Prague on Tuesday, he disclosed to what conclusion had he come:

"Let me say that my conclusion is the plan is sound, and I found the principles upon which it is based to be evident in all aspects of the plan. The thing that impressed me most about the reform plan was its breadth and the depth of attention to detail that have been achieved in so short period of time in terms of preparation. It is thorough in the forms of addressing force structure, human resources and defence planning or defence management."

The new structure of Czech armed forces is an ambitious plan, but it is possible to implement it with a planned 2.2 percent of GDP being allocated for the armed forces over the next 10 years. General Schroeder noted that most of the work is still ahead of the Czech Republic:

"The difficult thing with any plan no matter how complete and thorough, is its execution, and what is required now is a detailed documentation of the concepts described in the plan. The next difficulty is the integration of the defence management system, which over time allows the decision-makers to analyse alternatives, balance the fiscal aspects of the programmes and establish tight controls over the execution of those programmes. That is very complex work, but from my perspective the plan provides a sound foundation for that work to go ahead."

General-officer Dan Schroeder, photo: CTK
The Czech armed forces have already provided some units for operations in conflict regions such as a chemical unit in Kuwait, and a field hospital in Kosovo and now in Afghanistan. And General Schroeder had words of praise for Czech soldiers:

"I would say this is one of the beauties of a collective defence arrangement. It is impossible for one participant to be all things to all people. So in a collaborative, cooperative way based on capabilities, technology, you collectively arrive at an agreement on a division of labour. And today, the provision of the NBC protection company, the medical support in Afghanistan and the mobile passive surveillance unit is an appropriate specialization for the Czech Republic to offer to NATO. I would conclude by saying that I've seen your soldiers, in the field in Kuwait, in Macedonia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I would tell you that you should be very proud of your young soldiers - they do good work."