The Czech Army is a shell of itself after years of neglect, which is why a slowdown in military upgrading would have seriously negative consequences, Army Chief of the General Staff Aleš Opata said.
Opata recalled that at NATO summits, the Czech Republic had repeatedly committed to spending 2 percent of GDP for defense by 2024, but several politicians recently questioned this commitment.
“The army has suffered enough in recent years,” added Opata.
“We need to strengthen the military structure. Russian technology is no longer sufficient. Technologically, our allies, as well as our potential enemies, are getting ahead of us,” he stressed.
As NATO considers the building of a heavy brigade a clear priority for the Czech military, the Czech Republic needs to purchase new infantry fighting vehicles. According to Opata, the 2 percent of GDP spent on defense is not for the soldiers or the military.
“It’s 2 percent for our defense,” he said.
According to Opata, the Czech Republic is in a difficult and dynamic period, and that is why the military needs to know what it wants and where it is heading.
Top 5 priorities for the Czech Army
Opata reiterated that he has five priorities for the army, with first one being the recruitment of new people.
“We need new blood and young people. We need to rejuvenate the army,” he said.
The most difficult task, and the second priority according to Opata, regards rearmament. He appreciates the completion of important tenders for the purchases of military helicopters from the United Stats, radars, and new armored vehicles.
“In addition to the hard work, courage was also needed to make it happen. I want to thank the Defense Minister [Lubomír Metnar], his colleagues, and their teams for the excellent work and cooperation,” Opata said.
His third priority is for the army to acquire new skills. He stressed the importance of creating cyber forces and information operations group, an unmanned systems’ battalion, and a deployment forces battalion.
In the case of the projects with immediate impact, which is Opata’s fourth priority, the plan for the purchase of bulletproof vests and helmets along with personal weapons, has been delayed.
As a fifth priority, Opata emphasized that Czechia has to fulfill the conception of military construction, which he called a military Bible. Concluding his speech about the ambitions of the army over the next decade, Opata said that “doubts and lateral thoughts only slow us down.”
“Retreat is a legitimate military tactic, but not now and not in this situation,” he added.
“The military will be able to fight and defend our country in all domains, including the cyber one. The army will be able to fight and defend our country in all types and intensities of conflict,” he added, describing his concept as an excellent plan.