The Czechia will be able to deploy up to 1,200 soldiers on NATO’s eastern border

The Czechia will be able to deploy up to 1,200 soldiers on NATO’s eastern border
The Czechia will be able to deploy up to 1,200 soldiers on NATO’s eastern border

In the next two years, the Czech army will be able to deploy up to 1,200 soldiers on the eastern border of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) to strengthen the defense. This is assumed by the plan of foreign military missions until 2024, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

In total, up to 1,362 soldiers could serve in foreign missions in 2023 and 2024. The Senate already agreed to the plan in August. Current missions are valid until the end of this year.

The plan was significantly influenced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Minister of Defense Jana Černochová (ODS) stated in front of the deputies.

Up to 1,200 soldiers are to operate as part of strengthening the defense of NATO’s eastern border in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. The government plan also envisages the allocation of 20 soldiers to protect the diplomatic interests of the Czech Republic in Ukraine, they will protect the embassy in Kyiv.

The costs of the missions should amount to approximately 1.4 billion crowns annually, which is less than in the past two years.

So far, the Czechia is active in the east of the Alliance in Lithuania and Latvia, and since April it has commanded the multinational NATO battle group in Slovakia. It can send up to 650 soldiers to it, and for operations in the Baltics, the expiring mandate is counting on up to 290 soldiers.

Another 95 soldiers may operate in the Baltics in connection with the protection of their airspace. The total number of deployed soldiers tends to be lower, the mandate is higher to allow for example rotation.

SPD against

The mission plan was approved by the House of Representatives with the votes of 141 of the 157 deputies present. All 15 SPD legislators were against it.

Radovan Vích, a deputy of the movement, said that the SPD is not against sending soldiers abroad, even in view of gaining experience, but it should be limited to peace and stabilization operations. “We need the troops at home first,” he said. He also emphasized that the movement does not agree with the presence of any foreign troops in the Czech Republic.

On the contrary, the chairman of the defense committee for the opposition ANO Lubomír Metnar supported the government’s plan for this movement, according to him, it follows to a certain extent the previous period. The army’s participation in foreign missions is one of NATO’s evaluation criteria, and the Czechia is a reliable partner in this, he said.

In the command structures of NATO, the EU and the UN, according to the plan, which also includes the possibility of deploying up to 56 signalmen, up to 25 soldiers could serve in foreign operations. The plan also provides for the possibility of a short-term stay of up to 800 soldiers from other NATO countries on Czech territory. In no case does this mean a mandate for their permanent operation or the establishment of a base in the Czech Republic, emphasized Černochová.

Other foreign missions of the army will continue in most cases to the same extent as before. Specifically, these are KFOR in Kosovo (eight soldiers), the EU Irini operation in the Mediterranean (five soldiers), the MFO mission in Sinai (20 soldiers), the UN MINUSMA mission in Mali (15 soldiers) and the UNDOF in the Golan Heights (five soldiers). The slight increase to eight people only applies to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU Althea operation there.

The plan of foreign missions does not envisage further involvement of the Czech army in the training mission of the European Union in Mali and Iraq. Should Iraq request Czech soldiers, the mission will be approved separately. According to Černochová, further work in the EU mission in Mali is being discussed in the EU.

The previous mandate counted on the deployment of up to 851 soldiers for 2021 and up to 946 soldiers for this year. Estimated costs were about 1.7 and 1.8 billion crowns, actual expenses were around a billion crowns each year.

For this year, expenses of 2.64 billion crowns were planned. In recent years, the army has sent the most soldiers to Afghanistan, Mali and the Baltics. The mission in Afghanistan ended with the withdrawal of allied forces last year.

The number of soldiers abroad increased dramatically this spring after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when the Czechia decided to join the alliance’s multinational unit.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Czechia deploy soldiers NATOs eastern border

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