War in Europe 'not unthinkable,' says Czech army head

In a stern speech, Czechia's chief of staff criticized the state of the country's army and called for greater preparedness in case of a full-scale war.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 22.02.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 21.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech Chief of General Staff Karel Řehka said Tuesday that war in Europe “is not unthinkable” given the tense current geopolitical situation, and that the Czech army must be adequately prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Big room for improvement

"Our sources of the long-time underfunded professional military and active reserves would definitely not suffice [for an international war]," Řehka said. He also promised that Czechia would be an active participant in any war from “the very first minute,” were a direct conflict between NATO and Russia to start.

Modernization is an area that needs to be improved, according to the army chief, with Czechia some way behind. He criticized the army, saying “we do not have order in even the basic things,” adding that combat readiness should be a priority in the coming months. 

Minister of Defense Jana Černochová took a similarly critical line, saying that the Czech army “fell asleep” in the last three decades of peace, and that current events serve as a wake-up call.

"It is no secret that today the [army's] capacities and abilities are not where we need them." - Karel Řehka

A focus on preparation

Czechia is looking to bolster its defense. It was confirmed last week that the U.S. will provide the Czech Republic with an additional CZK 4.4 billion for the modernization of its army as partial compensation for equipment provided to Ukraine. Czechia is also negotiating the purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the U.S.

The army head also noted that Czechia – and NATO – can analyze the current conflict and practically learn from it for future purposes. Strategies and technologies are among some of the things that can be incorporated for the Czech army’s own use.

Řehka also referenced Czechia’s geographical position in central Europe as “a significant transit zone,” therefore increasing the importance of the country being prepared for any full-scale conflict.

In the scenario of a NATO-Russia war, Czechia’s infrastructure would be in great danger: the chief pointed out that Czechia lies within range of Russia’s missile capabilities. 

Řehka finished on a more positive note, saying that the Czech army’s aim was “not to provoke a war, but avoid it.” 

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