The Czech army is implementing the biggest internal reforms since it joined NATO, including record purchases of military equipment, the recruitment of 5,000 new soldiers and significant changes to its command structure.
The Czech Army’s most urgent changes are focused on its need to replace equipment, primarily helicopters, radars and armored fighting vehicles.
“We still have Russian helicopters and radars 30 years after the revolution. It is a shame,” said Prime Minister Andrej Babiš as he explained why the army needs investments worth nearly 100 billion korunas (€4 billion).
Furthermore, the army contracts will benefit Czech armor manufacturers. At an annual meeting with military commanders, President Miloš Zeman stressed that at least one-third of the army purchases should be made in the Czech Republic.
In many cases, the army already prefers buying Czech products like armored fighting vehicles. However, President Zeman is not opposed to purchasing certain technology from abroad, such as drones.
“The Czech army will establish a drone unit, and I welcome the fact that the drones will be purchased from Israel, which is a technological superpower with cutting-edge technology,” said Zeman.
Another major change in the army will be at the personnel level. About 25,000 men and women currently serve in the army but there are plans to recruit another 5,000 soldiers in the coming years.
“More than 99 percent of our recruited personnel operate in the field, while the remaining one percent includes cyber specialists, doctors, and lawyers,” said Chief of the General Staff Aleš Opata.
Nowadays, the Czech army is much smaller than in the past. It is a professional army, meaning it only employs people with proper military training.
Despite its small size, the Czech Army earns praise from abroad. For example, its successes in Mali secured the Czechs the responsibility of supervising the local military mission over a six-month period.