Czechoslovak People's Army

The Czechoslovak People's Army (Czech: Československá lidová armáda, Slovak: Československá ľudová armáda, ČSLA) was the armed forces of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic from 1954[1] until 1989. From 1955 it was a member force of the Warsaw Pact. On 14 March 1990 the Army's name was officially reverted back to the Czechoslovak Army removing the adjective "People's" from the name. The Czechoslovak Army was split into the Army of the Czech Republic and the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993.

Czechoslovak People's Army
Československá lidová armáda (in Czech)
Československá ľudová armáda (in Slovak)
Flag of the Czechoslovak People's Army (1960–1990)
MottoZa vlast–za socialismus
Za vlasť–za socializmus
(For Homeland–For Socialism)
Founded1 June 1954
Disbanded14 March 1990
Service branchesLand Forces
Air Force
HeadquartersPrague, Czechoslovakia
President of Czechoslovakia
Minister of Defence
Chief of the General Staff
Active personnel201,000 (1987)
Related articles
RanksRanks of the Czechoslovak Armed Forces
CSPA tank parade in Prague on Victory Day, 9 May 1985.

Transition to Communist rule edit

On 25 May 1945 the Provisional organization of the Czechoslovak armed forces was approved, according to which there was a reorganization of the Czechoslovak army. Soldiers who had fought against Nazism on all fronts of World War II gradually returned. The territory of Czechoslovakia was divided into four military areas in which emerged gradually over 16 infantry divisions, which complemented the Tank Corps and Artillery Division. The Czechoslovak I Corps which had served under Soviet control became the 1st Czechoslovak Army, before becoming the 1st Military Area.[2] Initial optimism about the plans to rebuild the army was replaced by disillusionment, stemming from a broken post-war economy and the lack of human and material resources. The Czechoslovak Army after the war was commissioned to expel Germans and Hungarians, and was also involved in helping the national economy. In addition, units of the National Security Corps participated in the fighting against the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists.


After 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took power, there were significant changes in the military. More than half of the officers began to experience persecution as well as soldiers, and many were forced to leave. The political processes focused mainly on soldiers who fought in World War II in Western Europe, but paradoxically there was also persecution of soldiers fighting the war on the Eastern Front. The army came fully under the power of the Communist Party and in 1950 there was a major reorganization of the Soviet model, and the military areas were disbanded. In 1951 there was signed between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union the Agreement on the manner and terms of settlement for the supplied equipment and material provided by the USSR loan of almost 44 million rubles for the purchase of military equipment, especially aircraft and radars. There has been an increase in proliferation and increasing the number of servicemen of the army, which since 1953 reached over 300,000.

The final Report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Federal Assembly for clarification of events of 17 November 1989 characterized the Czechoslovak People's Army as follows: "... the Czechoslovak Army, next to the SNB (the people's police force) and LM (the paramilitary workers militia), was understood as one of the direct power tools designed for control over society and for the immediate management of internal political problems; the Communist Party by means of a vast staff of the Main Political Administration (HPS) of ČSLA penetrated as far as into the lowest units and in this way virtually ensured its absolute influence on the Army."[3] During the Velvet Revolution, Communist Minister of National Defence Milán Václavík proposed to use the army against demonstrators, but his suggestion was not heeded.[3]

Components edit

The ČSLA was composed of Ground Forces, Air Forces and Air Defence Forces, under the direction of the General Staff.

Ground Forces edit

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.[4] 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.[5]

Czechoslovak military doctrine prescribed large tank columns spearheading infantry assaults. While the armoured columns secured objectives, the infantry would provide close support with mortars, snipers, anti-tank guns and medium artillery. The majority of the soldiers in the Ground Forces were recruited through conscription, compulsory military service of 24 months for all males between 18 and 27.

Air Force edit

The Air and Air Defence Forces of the CPA celebrated 17 September 1944, as the birth date of their force.[6] On that date, a fighter regiment, manned by Czechoslovak personnel, the cs:První československý samostatný stíhací letecký pluk - 1st Czechoslovak Independent Fighter Aviation Regiment - flew out for Slovak soil to take part in the Slovak National Uprising.[7] This first regiment grew into the 1st Czechoslovak Mixed Air Division, which fought with the Soviets. Yet it was only six years after the war, in 1951, when Czechoslovak units began receiving aircraft - jet fighters - to create a combat capability.

The Czechoslovak Air Force was fully equipped with supersonic jet fighters, attack helicopters, air defence systems and electronic tracking equipment.

Air Defence Forces edit

The Army's air defence (PVOS, Protivzdušná obrana státu) had anti-aircraft missile units, fighter interceptor aircraft and radar and direction-finding units, known, in accordance with Soviet terminology, as radio-technical units.

Means of higher military education edit

  • Antonin Zapotocky Military Technological Academy[8] (Brno)
  • Klement Gottwald Military Academy (Prague)
  • Political Military Academy in Bratislava
  • Ludvík Svoboda Military Ground Forces University in Vyškov
  • Military Air Forces University "Slovak National Uprising" in Košice
  • Military Technical School "Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship" in Liptovský Mikuláš
  • Military Topographic Institute in Dobruška
  • Military Cartographic Institute in Harmanec
  • Military Geographic Institute in Prague
  • Military Medical Institute in Hradec Králov

Characteristics edit

One of the official marches of the ČSLA was the March of the Submachine Gunners ("Pochod samopalníků") by Jan Fadrhons.

Organs of the military press edit

  • Národní Obrana (National Defense) newspaper
  • Lidová Armáda (People's Army) magazine
  • Czechoslovak Warrior magazine
  • Zápisník (Notepad) magazines

Cultural and propaganda institutions edit

The band served as one of the ideological tools of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from the 1950s until November 1989.[9]

External videos
  Czechoslovak Military Parade "Shield-84" - Vojenská přehlídka ČSLA "Štít-84

Holidays and celebrations edit

The ČSLA had the following professional holidays:

  • 15 January - Day of the Rocket Forces and Artillery, the anniversary of the actions of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps and the 38th Army in a battle near the Polish city of Jaslo on 15 January 1945.
  • 6 October - Day of the Czechoslovak People's Army, the anniversary of the Battle of the Dukla Pass on 6 October 1944.
  • 17 September - Aviation Day of the Czechoslovak People's Army

During the period of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, regular Victory Day Parades were held by the Czechoslovak People's Army in Letná. The first parade took place in 1951 and, since, they were held every five years on 9 May up until 1990. The parade also marked the Prague uprising. The last of these parades took place in 1985.[10][11] Kde domov můj and Nad Tatrou sa blýska (the Czechoslovakian national anthem) were performed by the massed bands on parade before being followed by the State Anthem of the Soviet Union. Parades were also held in Bratislava as well.

Equipment edit

Ground Forces edit

Tanks Origin Type Versions In service Notes
T-72   Soviet Union
Main battle tank M, M1 900[12]
T-55   Soviet Union
Main battle tank 1,927[12]
T-34   Soviet Union
Medium tank 373[12]
ISU-152   Soviet Union Heavy Self-Propelled Gun >2 Also called the TSU-152 ( stands for "Těžké Samohybné Dělo" ). Imported in late 1940's and stopped in 1951. In the 1960's (and late 50's) most to all were kept in reserves and only used for military parades. In 1970's Czech workers used the TSU-152's for hauling heavy work.[13]
APC/AFC Origin Type Versions In service Notes
BVP-2   Czechoslovakia IFV 310[12] 53 in storage in 1991
BVP-1   Czechoslovakia IFV 1,250[12] 109 in storage in 1991
OT-810   Nazi Germany
APC 1,900 (760 in storage)[12] Czechoslovak version of Sd.Kfz. 251
OT-90   Czechoslovakia APC
OT-65   Hungary APC Czechoslovak designation to the D-442 FUG
OT-64   Czechoslovakia APC A/C
OT-62 TOPAS   Czechoslovakia APC A, B Czechoslovak version of BTR-50
BRDM-2   Soviet Union Reconnaissance/Patrol Vehicle 480 (422 in storage)[12]
OT-65   Hungary
Reconnaissance/Patrol Vehicle A 300[12] Czechoslovak designation to the D-442 FUG

Air and Air Defence Forces edit

Model Origin Type Versions In service Notes
MiG-29   Soviet Union Fighter 20[12] 18 Single-Seat, 2 Training
MiG-23   Soviet Union Fighter MF,ML,BN,U 70 32 BN, 13 MF, 17 ML, 8 UB,
MiG-21   Soviet Union
Fighter, Ground-Attack 180+
Su-25   Soviet Union Ground-Attack K,UBK 38[12] 36 Single-Seat, 2 Training
Su-22   Soviet Union Attack M4,UM3K 60 52 Single-Seat, 8 Training
Mi-24   Soviet Union Attack Helicopter D,V 60 28 Mi-24D,2 Mi-24UD, 30 Mi-24V
Mi-17   Soviet Union Transport 83
L-39   Czechoslovakia Training C,ZA,V 57+ 24 L-39C, 27 L-39ZA, 6 L-39V
S-300   Soviet Union Mobile SAM system PMU 4 1 battery to defend Prague
S-200   Soviet Union Fixed SAM system 250 launchers[12] 6 Regiments, 40 launch sites
S-125   Soviet Union
S-75   Soviet Union

Ranks of the Czechoslovak People's Army edit

Enlisted and non-commissioned officers edit

  • Vojín – Private, Airman
  • Svobodník – Private First Class, Airman First Class
  • Desátník – Corporal, Senior Airman
  • Četař – Sergeant
  • Rotný – Staff Sergeant
  • StaršinaPlatoon Sergeant, Flight sergeant (part of the rank system 1948–1959)
  • Rotmistr – Sergeant First Class, Technical Sergeant
  • Nadrotmistr – Master Sergeant
  • Štábní rotmistr – First Sergeant

Warrant officers edit

Officers edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^, Vojenska-oblast-1 1945–1950 Archived 11 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, accessed July 2013.
  3. ^ a b Final report of the inquiry commission of the Federal Assembly to clarify the events of 17 November 1989, Part IV. – Czechoslovak People's Army, [cit. 28 October 2009]. Available online.
  4. ^ Library of Congress Country Study: Czechoslovakia, Ground Forces, 1987
  5. ^, Warsaw Pact Order of Battle 1989 Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2 June 2010
  6. ^ Lewis 1982, p. 142.
  7. ^ Fajtl, F. První doma ("First at home"), Naše vojsko, Prague, 1980, 291 pp. (in Czech)
  8. ^ "History of Faculty - Information about Faculty". Archived from the original on 6 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  9. ^, WebContentManagementSystem: Macron Software | WebToDate. "Ústřední hudba slaví 70. Její hudba rozechvívá lidská srdce i opravdové mosty". (in Czech). Archived from the original on 6 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Prague Experienced a Military Parade After 23 Years". (in Czech). 28 October 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  11. ^ Adamičková, Naďa; Königová, Marie (21 September 2016). "A Spectacular Military Parade Should Roar Through Prague". (in Czech). Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k International Institute for Strategic Studies (1991). The military balance. 1991-1992. London: Brassey's. p. 87. ISBN 978-0080413259.
  13. ^ "TSD-152 – ISU-152 in Czechoslovak Service | For the Record". 19 March 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  • Defense Intelligence Agency, National Intelligence Survey: Armed Forces, May 1974 (declassified in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act)
  • William J. Lewis (1982). The Warsaw Pact: Arms, Doctrine, and Strategy. Cambridge, Mass.: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis/McGraw Hill.
  • Rice, Condoleezza. The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948–1983: Uncertain Allegiance. Princeton University Press, 2014.
  • Steven J. Zaloga and James Loop, Soviet Bloc Elite Forces, London: Osprey, 1985

External links edit