General Řehka took command of the Army, Colonel Foltýn took command of the Military Police. Minister Černochová announced the main objectives of the Czech EU Presidency

 01. 07. 2022      category: Army of the Czech Republic
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In addition to Defence Minister Jana Černochová, outgoing Chief of the General Staff Army General Aleš Opata, outgoing Chief of the Military Police Brigadier General Miroslav Murček, the incoming Chief of the General Staff Major General Karel Řehka and the new Commander of the Military Police Colonel Otakar Foltýn attended the Armed Forces Day ceremony. The President of the Senate Miloš Vystrčil, the Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Jana Mračková Vildumetzová, the Chief of the Military Office of the President of the Republic Lieutenant General Jan Kaše and other guests were also present at the ceremony.

220630_vitkov_7901Picture: Armed Forces Day ceremony | Jan Schejbal / Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

Right at the beginning of the ceremony, Minister Černochová emphasized the need to have a strong Army. At the same time, she highlighted the work of the outgoing Chief of the General Staff Gen. Opata. She described the past four years as difficult, not only in terms of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the deteriorating security situation, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the war conflict in Ukraine. "General Opata has lived through it and succeeded," the minister said. She also thanked General Murček in a similar manner, acknowledging the contribution of the Military Police in the evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, for example.

Picture: Armed Forces Day ceremony | Jan Schejbal / Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

The new Chief of the General Staff, Major General Karel Řehka, said that he considers his new position an honour, but above all a huge commitment and responsibility. "The Army has an unprecedentedly high level of trust in society, which is an absolutely essential condition for success. This is a credit to my predecessors and, above all, to all the servicemen and women," the general said. "I am deeply convinced that the Army is there to fight, and if it is not fighting, it should be preparing to fight. This is the main role of the army and the only role in which the army is irreplaceable," Řehka stressed. Ensuring the Army's readiness for conflicts is what the new Chief of the General Staff has set as his main task. To achieve this goal, the modernisation of the army must continue, including in the mindset of people at all levels. It is important to rearm and comprehensively modernise the heavy brigade as soon as possible, as well as to complete other major projects such as the purchase of tanks and supersonic aircraft and other equipment. According to the new chief of staff, the Army must also prepare itself for hybrid threats and to fight in all domains: in addition to land and air, it must also be able to operate in the cyber domain, space, the information environment and the electromagnetic spectrum. "Any future war will take place in all these domains simultaneously and we must be prepared for it," Major General Řehka stressed.

IMG_7359Picture: General Rehka assumed command of the army | Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

Brigadier General Miroslav Murček also thanked the entire Military Police team for their work. "I am proud of you, proud of your service for the benefit of the Ministry of Defence and the Czech Republic," General Murček said in his farewell speech. Colonel Otakar Foltýn, the new commander of the Military Police, considers the most urgent task of the Military Police and the army to be the joint preparation and defence of the values on which the Czech Republic stands.

At the subsequent press conference, which took place after the Armed Forces Day ceremony, Minister Černochová said that both new chiefs have many tasks ahead of them. Whether it is accelerating the process of modernisation of the Army or completing other key projects. Another task is to cooperate within the Alliance structures in dealing with the situation in Ukraine, whether it is purely military, material military or even humanitarian aid. One such example, as the Minister said, is the Czech Republic's participation in some of the training of the Ukrainian armed forces on our territory. The Minister again praised the experience of the new Chief of General Staff in managing the National Cyber and Information Security Agency, as cyberspace is one of the other battlefields. The fact that it is not yet visibly "bloody" makes it all the more serious a place of equally fierce struggle. "The Czech Presidency of the EU Council is very much a vessel for the defence ministry linked to our priorities," the minister further said, recalling the Alliance's decision to admit Sweden and Finland to NATO. Another topic of the Presidency in defence policy issues is the situation in the Western Balkans, where there are risks that may arise in this region. "There, too, we, as the Army of the Czech Republic, are ready to strengthen our representation in one of the operations under the UN," the Minister added.

Picture: New Chief of General Staff Major General Karel Řehka said he considers his new position an honour, but above all a huge commitment and responsibility | Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

The new Chief of General Staff Gen. Řehka said at a press conference that after taking office he would still be refining some of his plans, especially in personnel matters. He recalled his stint in a multinational division in Poland to manage the National Cyber and Information Security Agency. He was thus able to see, after five years away from the General Staff, how much work the Army had done during that time. He reiterated the completion of modernisation processes in the Army, but also stressed, "There is a dramatically changing security situation in Europe, and this will have an impact on our plans. But we cannot stop after the completion of modernisation and we have to develop in new domains. We have to be able to operate in cyberspace, in the information environment, in space and in all new domains," Řehka stressed.

Minister Černochová also summarised information from the just concluded NATO Summit in Madrid, where there was a consensus on the need to increase the military presence along the Alliance's eastern border, where there will be a total of eight reinforced battle groups. It was also agreed to be able to reinforce these battlegroups to brigade level within a few days, particularly in the Baltic region. Another outcome of the summit is a major reform of the rapid reaction force within NATO forces, with some 300 000 troops on various levels of readiness, including one brigade of the Czech Army. There was also the designation of specific units for the defence of specific countries. The forward movement of supplies of material, ammunition and fuel near the Alliance's eastern border will also be addressed.

The Minister said that the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU will contribute to a secure and strong Europe. The main objective of the Ministry of Defence will be to strengthen cooperation between the EU and NATO, in particular to avoid duplication between the two organisations. Other points include assistance to Ukraine and the implementation of the Strategic Compass. The EU-NATO declaration will be signed during the Presidency, which should give further political impetus to this cooperation and will outline further areas of cooperation, including in the field of military mobility and space. There should also be approval of an EU action plan on military mobility, the preparation of a defence and security strategy for space, the use of robotics and quantum computing. As regards assistance to Ukraine, the Czech Republic will continue to contribute military and humanitarian material. Support should also include post-war support in the event of an end to this war. The so-called implementation of the Strategic Compass is, in other words, the EU's first and complete defence strategy and is a set of specific tasks. According to the Minister, the Czech Republic will focus on promoting the EU's defence capability and supporting small and medium-sized companies in the defence industry, as support for the defence industry is crucial not only for the Czech Republic. This debate also includes the topic of taxonomy, which the Minister intends to raise during her Presidency. It is a taxonomy of companies in the arms industry that banks do not want to lend to because they find it 'dirty'. "This tendency is very bad and we must reverse this trend," the minister said. "If we don't want to drive the defence industry out of Europe, we have to do something about it," she added. Another defence task under the presidency will be to work on a toolkit for defence against hybrid action, which the minister said could be a topic for the new Chief of the General Staff given his previous experience.

 Author: Jan Zilvar

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