The Czech military has significantly shrunk since joining NATO

There are currently 36,000 active soldiers and employees within the Czech military, less than half of the 77,000 members it had in 1999. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 18.02.2024 09:45:00 (updated on 18.02.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Military expenditure among NATO countries has been in the headlines recently following remarks by United States presidential candidate Donald Trump, who said that he would not come to the aid of NATO countries that didn't meet spending requirements in the case of a Russian invasion.

The Czech Republic increased its military spending from 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent of its GDP in 2023, but this still falls under the two percent threshold that NATO members pledged to meet in 2014. In addition, the size of the Czech Republic's military has also slimmed down significantly since joining NATO 25 years ago.

According to recent data provided by the Ministry of Defense to Czech News Agency, the number of soldiers and civilian staff in the Czech military is now less than half of what it was in 1999.

At the creation of the Czech Republic in 1993, the Ministry of Defense boasted a formidable force comprising nearly 132,000 active service soldiers and civilian employees. However, this figure sharply decreased over the subsequent years, falling to approximately 77,700 by the time of the 1999 NATO accession.

The decline continued over the next two decades, with the number of active soldiers and civilian employees in the Czech military falling to less than 40,000 personnel when conscription ended in 2004, and a low of around 28,350 people by 2015.

Yet, in response to escalating security concerns and bolstered by increased funding, the Czech military has seen some small growth over the past ten years. By the outset of 2024, the ranks had swelled to over 36,000 individuals, with nearly 28,000 counted as active soldiers.

Notably, an increasingly large share of these soldiers—now 13.7 percent, according to the 2024 statistics—are women, indicative of efforts toward gender inclusivity within the Czech Republic's military.

The introduction of active reserves in 2004 has also provided an additional layer of defense capability. Although the initial uptake was initially modest, numbers surged after 2016, with active reserve soldiers reaching 4,266 by the end of 2023.

As the ministry eyes an ambitious target of 10,000 reservists by 2030, initiatives such as the virtual recruitment center have been instrumental in attracting new personnel. The Ministry of Defense, under the leadership of Minister Jana Černochová, is poised to intensify recruitment efforts, leveraging diverse platforms to engage prospective candidates.

This includes initiatives like voluntary predetermination, which would require those who participate to take part in military training and service in case of significant security threats to the Czech Republic.

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