Army of the Czech Republic

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The Army of the Czech Republic (Czech: Armáda České republiky, AČR), also known as the Czech Army, is the military service responsible for the defence of the Czech Republic as part of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic (Czech: ozbrojené síly České republiky) alongside the Military Office of the President of the Republic and the Castle Guard.[13] The Army consists of the General Staff, the Land Forces, the Air Force and support units.[14]

Army of the Czech Republic
Armáda České republiky
Coat of Arms
Current form1 January 1993
(30 years, 8 months)
Service branches
HeadquartersPrague, Czech Republic
President Petr Pavel
Prime Minister Petr Fiala
Minister of Defence Jana Černochová
Chief of the General Staff Karel Řehka
Military age18
ConscriptionAbolished in 2004[1]
Active personnel28 000 professional[2]
4,191 active reserve[2]
BudgetCZK 111.8 billion ($4.93 billion) (2023)[3]
Percent of GDP1.52% (2023)[4]
Domestic suppliers
Foreign suppliers
Related articles
RanksCzech military ranks

Czech Army's main historical legacy and inspiration stems from the 15th century Hussite militia, which is credited with numerous warfare advancements, including introduction of firearms to field battles as well as wagon fort strategy. Modern history precedes the 1918 Czechoslovak declaration of independence with formal establishment of the Czechoslovak Legion fighting on the side of the Entente powers during the WW1. Following the Munich Agreement, the country was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Army was reconstituted in exile, fighting on the side of Allies of World War II in the European as well as Mediterranean and Middle East theatre. After the 1948 Communist Coup, the Czechoslovak People's Army with over 200,000 active personnel and some 4,500 tanks[15] formed one of the pillars of the Warsaw Pact military alliance.

Following the Velvet Revolution and dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999. The conscription was abolished in 2004, leading to transformation into a modern professional army inspired mostly by the British Armed Forces and USMC example. Today, the Czech Army has 27.000 professional personnel and 4.000 members of active reserves. Additionally, any citizen can voluntarily join a five week basic training without becoming a soldier[16] or join advanced shooting training with their privately owned firearms and become civilian reservist.[17]

A law adopted in June 2023 stipulates that the military expenditures shall not be lower than 2% of country's GDP, starting from 2024.[18]

History Edit

Czech lands Edit

Battle between Protestant Hussites and Catholic Crusaders; Jena Codex, 15th century

The military history of the Czech people dates back to the Middle Ages and the creation of the Duchy of Bohemia and the Kingdom of Bohemia. During the Hussite Wars, Jan Žižka became a military leader of such skill and eminence that the Hussite legacy became an important and lasting part of the Czech military traditions.[19][20]

Official military names since 1918:

1918–1950 - Czechoslovak Armed Forces (this official name was given to the Czechoslovak Army on March 19, 1920 on the basis of the Armed Forces Act)

1950–1954 - Czechoslovak Army

1954–1989 - Czechoslovak People's Army

1990–1992 - Czechoslovak Army

since 1993 - Army of the Czech Republic (ACR)

Czechoslovakia Edit

The Czechoslovak Armed Forces were originally formed on 30 June 1918 when 6,000 members of the Czechoslovak Legion in France, which had been established in 1914, took oath and received a battle banner in Darney, France, thus preceding the official declaration of Czechoslovak independence by four months. There were also 50 000 legion soldiers in Russia at that time. The military achievements of the Czechoslovak legions on the French, Italian and especially Russian front became one of the main arguments that the Czechoslovak pro-independence leaders, especially for T. G. Masaryk in America,[21] could use to gain the support for the country's independence by the Allies of World War I.

In 1938, servicemen of the Czechoslovak Army and the State Defense Guard fought in an undeclared border war against the German-backed Sudetendeutsches Freikorps as well as Polish and Hungarian paramilitary forces. As a result of the Munich Agreement, areas heavily populated by ethnic German speaking people were incorporated into the Third Reich and military-aged men living there were subject to being drafted into the Wehrmacht. In 1939, after the Slovak State proclaimed its independence and the remainder of Carpathian Ruthenia was occupied and annexed by Hungary, the German occupation of the Czech Lands followed and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was proclaimed after the negotiations with Emil Hácha. The Protectorate's government possessed its own armed force, the Government Army (6,500 men), tasked with public security and rearguard duties. On the other side of the conflict, a number of Czechoslovak units and formations served with the Polish Army (Czechoslovak Legion), the French Army, the Royal Air Force, the British Army (the 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade), and the Red Army (I Corps). Four Czech and Slovak-manned RAF squadrons were transferred to Czechoslovak control in late 1945.

Croatian Army soldier discusses patrol routes with a Czech Army soldier (left)

From 1954[22] until 1989, the Army was known as the Czechoslovak People's Army (ČSLA).[23] Although the ČSLA, as formed in 1945, included both Soviet- and British-equipped/trained expatriate troops, the "Western" soldiers had been purged from the ČSLA after 1948 when the communists took power. The ČSLA offered no resistance to the invasion mounted by the Soviets in 1968 in reaction to the "Prague Spring", and was extensively reorganized by the Soviets following the re-imposition of communist rule in Prague.

Of the approximately 201,000 personnel on active duty in the ČSLA in 1987, about 145,000, or about 72 percent, served in the ground forces (commonly referred to as the army). About 100,000 of these were conscripts.[24] There were two military districts, Western and Eastern. A 1989 listing of forces shows two Czechoslovak armies in the west, the 1st Army at Příbram with one tank division and three motor rifle divisions, the 4th Army at Písek with two tank divisions and two motor rifle divisions. In the Eastern Military District, there were two tank divisions, the 13th and 14th, with a supervisory headquarters at Trenčín in the Slovak part of the country.[25]

During the Cold War, the ČSLA was equipped primarily with Soviet arms, although certain arms like the OT-64 SKOT armored personnel carrier, the L-29 Delfín and L-39 Albatros aircraft, the P-27 Pancéřovka antitank rocket launcher, the vz. 58 assault rifle or the Uk vz. 59 machine gun were of Czechoslovak design.

After the fall of communism during the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the Czechoslovak People's Army was renamed back to the Czechoslovak Army and was completely transformed as well.

After 1992 (dissolution of Czechoslovakia) Edit

Czech BVP-2 firing in Afghanistan
Czech Army Soldiers to participate in exercise Combined Resolve at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany

The Army of the Czech Republic was formed after the Czechoslovak Armed Forces split after the 31 December 1992 peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Czech forces stood at 90,000 in 1993. They were reduced to around 65,000 in 11 combat brigades and the Air Force in 1997, to 63,601 in 1999,[26] and to 35,000 in 2005. At the same time, the forces were modernized and reoriented towards a defensive posture. In 2004, the army transformed itself into a fully professional organization and compulsory military service was abolished. The Army maintains an active reserve.

The Czech Republic is a member of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In March 1999, the Czech Republic joined NATO. Since 1990, the ACR and the Czech Armed Forces have contributed to numerous peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, including IFOR, SFOR, and EUFOR Althea in Bosnia, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey, Pakistan and with the Coalition forces in Iraq.

Current deployments (2019):

Structure Edit

Many of the duties of the President of the Czech Republic can be said to be ceremonial to one degree or another, especially since the President has relatively few powers independent of the will of the Prime Minister. One of those is the status as commander in chief of the military; no part of these duties can take place but through the assent of the Prime Minister. In matters of war, he is in every sense merely a figurehead, since the Constitution gives all substantive constitutional authority over the use of the armed forces to the Parliament.[27][28] In fact, the only specific thing the constitution allows the President to do with respect to the military is to appoint its generals – but even this must be done with the signature of the Prime Minister.[29]

Czech Armed Forces Organization 2023. Click to expand.
4th Mech Bde (Žatec)
7th Mech Bde (Hranice)
13th Art Rgt (Jince)
25th ADA Rgt (Strakonice)
53rd Recon Rgt (Opava)
43rd Airborne Rgt (Chrudim)
Czech Army - combat brigade/regiment locations

Structure of the Czech Armed Forces consists of two main parts and other commands:[30]

Active reserves Edit

Active Reserve (in Czech Aktivní záloha) is a part of the otherwise professional Army of the Czech Republic. This service was created to allow the participation of citizens with a positive attitude to the military.

A volunteer needs either to have completed the compulsory military service (which ended in 2004) or to attend 6 week training. Then the reservists have to serve up to three weeks a year and can be called up to serve two weeks during a non-military crisis. They are not intended to serve abroad, but individuals may volunteer to do so. The Reserve presents itself on events like BAHNA, a military show.

Each of the active duty brigades or regiments have their own active reserve subordinate units that train with the same equipment as the professional soldiers and is part of the organisational structure usually as a 4th company in a battalion. The Territorial Command is responsible for the active reserves and have direct control of the 14 infantry companies that belong to regional military commands in each of the 13 regions and capital city Prague.

Equipment Edit

The Army of the Czech Republic, to a large extent, currently uses equipment dating back to the times of the Warsaw Pact. During the Cold War, Czechoslovakia was a major supplier of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, military trucks and trainer aircraft – the bulk of military exports went to its Comecon partners.[32] Replacement of aging or obsolete equipment, or making it at least compliant with NATO standards, is urgently required. Modernization plans include acquisition of new multi-role helicopters, transport aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, air defence radars and missiles. If possible, the Czech Ministry of Defence selects products that are manufactured or co-produced in the Czech Republic.[33] This includes firearms of the Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod, namely the CZ 75 pistol, CZ Scorpion Evo 3 submachine gun, and CZ 805 BREN and BREN 2 assault rifles. Moreover, the Czech Army is equipped with about 3,000 T810 and T815 vehicles of various modifications produced by the Czech Tatra Trucks company.[34] Tatra Defence Vehicle factory ensures licensed production of Pandur II and Titus armoured vehicles. Aircraft such as the Aero L-39 Albatros, Aero L-159 Alca and Let L-410 Turbolet have been produced domestically as well.

At the beginning of 2019, the Czech Ministry of Defence announced its modernization program, consisting of acquiring 210 new modern IFVs as a replacement for the aging BVP-2. MoD approached four manufacturers: BAE Systems (CV90), GDELS (ASCOD), Rheinmetall (Lynx) and PSM (Puma). The cost of the program is expected to exceed 50 billion CZK.[35]

In May 2022 the Czech Ministry of Defence announced it will get 15 Leopards 2A4 from Germany as an exchange for Czech tanks that will be given to Ukraine to help defend against Russian invasion and will purchase up to 50 modern 2A7+ variants later.[36][37]

Uniforms Edit

Different types of Czech Army uniforms:

Commanding officers Edit

  • Chief of the General Staff: Lieutenant General Karel Řehka[38]
  • First Deputy Chief of the General Staff: Major General Ivo Střecha[39]
  • Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the AČR-Chief of Staff: Lieutenant General Miroslav Hlaváč[40]
  • Deputy Chief of the General Staff - Inspector of the AČR: Major General Milan Schulc[41]

Current and historic military ranks Edit

See also Edit

Citations Edit

  1. ^ Jaroslav Roušar (2006). Česká republika a její profesionální armáda (PDF). Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic. ISBN 80-7278-312-2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-11-03.
  2. ^ a b "Vývoj skutečných počtů osob v resortu MO ČR v letech 1992 - 2022 | Ministerstvo obrany".
  3. ^ "Rozpočet na obranu by mohl v roce 2021 překročit 1,4 procenta HDP". 13 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Rozpočet na obranu by mohl v roce 2021 překročit 1,4 procenta HDP". 13 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Czechs Choose, Cancel, then Come Back to Pandur II APCs".
  6. ^ a b c d ""Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Trade Register"".
  7. ^ "Poland Snaps Up 23 MiGs for 1 Euro | Business | The Moscow Times". Archived from the original on 2015-02-14.
  8. ^ "Czech MoD to buy three Spanish EADS CASA-295M transport aircraft".
  9. ^ "Czechs bought three CASA aircraft for price of four, 2005 document shows". 2012-07-16.
  10. ^ "Gripen Contract Signed for Czech Republic". Archived from the original on 2018-06-25. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
  11. ^ "Saab contracted for Gripen lease extension in Czech Republic - Airforce Technology". 14 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Czech Republic Eager to Buy More Land Rover Vehicles for Foreign Missions".
  13. ^ "Armed Forces » Professional Army". Ministry of Defence & Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Organisational Structure of the General Staff of ACR". Ministry of Defence & Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Polovina českých tanků stojí "na špalcích", varuje vojenský analytik". 4 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Typy kurzů základní přípravy | Velitelství výcviku - Vojenská akademie".
  17. ^ "Ozbrojení civilisté a budoucí bezpečnostní krize".
  18. ^ "Na obranu půjdou ze zákona dvě procenta HDP, normu podepsal Pavel - Novinky".
  19. ^ Gawdiak, Ihor, ed. (1989). Czechoslovakia: a country study (3rd ed.). Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 218–219.
  20. ^ Matuška, Matěj; Syka, Jan (2015). Husitský válečník: Kdo byli boží bojovníci... Grada Publishing. p. 162. ISBN 978-80-247-5156-6.
  21. ^ PRECLÍK, Vratislav. Masaryk a legie (Masaryk and legions), váz. kniha, 219 pages, first issue - vydalo nakladatelství Paris Karviná, Žižkova 2379 (734 01 Karviná, CZ) ve spolupráci s Masarykovým demokratickým hnutím (Masaryk Democratic Movement, Prague), 2019, ISBN 978-80-87173-47-3, pp.17 - 25, 33 - 45, 70 – 96, 100- 140, 159 – 184, 187 - 199
  22. ^ Burian, Michal; Rýc, Jiří (2007). Historie spojovacího vojska [History of [Czechoslovak] Signal Corps] (in Czech). Prague: Ministerstvo obrany – Agentura vojenských informací a služeb. p. 148. ISBN 978-80-7278-414-1.
  23. ^ For more information on the Czechoslovak Army during the Cold War, see Gordon L. Rottman, Warsaw Pact Ground Forces, Osprey Publishing, 1987
  24. ^ Library of Congress Country Study: Czechoslovakia, Ground Forces, 1987
  25. ^, Warsaw Pact Order of Battle 1989 Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 2 June 2010
  26. ^ "Starting points for professionalization of the armed forces" (in Czech). 2000. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  27. ^ Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 43
  28. ^ Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 39
  29. ^ Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 63
  30. ^ "New management and command structure of Armed Forces of the Czech Republic as of 1 July 2013". Ministerstvo obrany. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  31. ^ "Cyber Forces Command". Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  32. ^ Kiss, Yudit (1997). The Defence Industry in East-Central Europe: Restructuring and Conversion. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-19-829280-7.
  33. ^ Sabak, Juliusz (29 January 2016). "Czech Republic Doubles Its Defence Expenditure. "Modernization, More Troops, New Units"". Defence24. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  34. ^ Casey, Nuala; Holeček, Oldřich. "Minister of Defence receives shipment of Tatra trucks". Ministry of Defence. Ministerstvo obrany. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  35. ^ "Ministerstvo obrany podepsalo s VOP CZ memorandum o spolupráci v projektu největší armádní zakázky v". (in Czech). Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  36. ^ "Česko dostane od Německa 15 starších tanků Leopard, dalších až 50 nových si koupí -". Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  37. ^ "Leopard 2 Ringtausch mit Tschechien Deutschland stellt 15 Panzer zur Verfuegung". Die Welt. 18 May 2022. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  38. ^ "Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces | Ministry of Defence & Armed Forces of the Czech Republic". Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  39. ^ "První zástupce náčelníka Generálního štábu | Armáda ČR". Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  40. ^ "Zástupce náčelníka Generálního štábu - náčelník štábu | Armáda ČR". Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  41. ^ "Zástupce náčelníka Generálního štábu - inspektor AČR | Armáda ČR". Archived from the original on 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2022-08-31.

References Edit

Further reading Edit

External links Edit