Interview with Colonel Ladislav Bujárek, Commander of the NATO Multinational Battle Group in Slovakia
At the end of June, Colonel Ladislav Bujárek, a 45-year-old native of Sokolov, West Bohemia, took over the command of the NATO Multinational Battlegroup Slovakia (MN BG SVK), whose commanding country is the Czech Republic. The following interview, which is the unabridged content of the August issue of the monthly magazine of the Slovak Ministry of Defence Obrana, tells about his ideas and his own experience from the domestic and international environment.
What has been the biggest challenge during your professional career and why?
My military career began in 2001 at the Military University of Land Forces in Vyškov, where I studied economics and management. After graduating from there, I gradually passed through the blue and green parts of the army. So air defence and ground forces. Currently, I am the Deputy Chief of Staff for Support of the Command of the Ground Forces of the Army of the Czech Republic in Olomouc. Probably the most important thing in my military career was the decision to go to military school. Then, quite naturally, came the challenges in the international environment.
First it was deployment in the KFOR mission in Kosovo as part of the 10th contingent, where I also worked with Slovak soldiers from the Trebišov Mechanised Battalion. Later I was deployed three times in Afghanistan in the ISAF operation. First as a logistics group chief in Uruzgan, then in the same position in Wardak and finally as a commander of the NSE unit of the Czech Army Task Force KAIA. It is probably hard to erase from my memory this deployment and the many experiences in foreign operations with the 43rd Airborne Battalion, where we were an advisory and operations team for the Afghan Army. They remain in one's memory for a long time, even permanently... Then I gained further experience working in an international environment and within the Multinational Division - Northeast in Elblag, Poland, as Chief of the Logistics Support Planning Division.
After the end of the organizational core on 24 June, the first contingent of the Multinational Battle Group Slovakia (MN BG SVK) became fully operational within the Allied Forward Presence. The Czech Republic is its commanding nation and you are its commander. With what feelings did you take over the command from Colonel Tomáš Unzeitig?
Tomáš is a friend of mine whom I have known for some time. I must say that he and his team have done an incredible job in Slovakia. Hats off to what they have done in such a short period of time in preparing the tuning conditions and the functioning of the 1st contingent of the multinational battle group in Slovakia. Our task now is to build on all of this and develop it further. The tasks are many and it does not look like we will be bored. On the contrary, we need to shift up a gear in our workload to get everything done on time.
The aforementioned battle group on the territory of Slovakia consists of troops from the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, the USA and home Slovakia. What are your immediate tasks?
In the nearest future, we are going to be aligned. On a lighter note, we are now actually fine-tuning the entire multinational team, within which we have many of our soldiers with a lot of experience. At the national level, all of our units are fully professional soldiers. They know very well what to do. But it's also comparable to an orchestra, when you put together quality professional players on individual instruments, it takes time to become a harmonious and pleasant-sounding symphony orchestra. And that is the task for the coming weeks. We must confirm that our multinational group is fully prepared to perform all the tasks expected and required by the Alliance Command.
From the members of the 43rd Airborne Regiment Chrudim, who started to build operational capabilities and facilities for the coalition troops in the ADVON team, the members of the 41st Mechanised Battalion Žatec took the baton. Can you introduce this unit?
The 41st Mechanised Battalion of General Josef Malý is part of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade of the Czech Army. The soldiers from Žatec have many years of experience in the international environment. From the former Yugoslavia (IFOR, SFOR and KFOR operations), through Iraq, Afghanistan, African Mali to Lithuania, where they performed tasks within the NATO forward presence under German command. They are professionally very well prepared for their tasks and I am glad that they are part of the grouping. They have at their disposal, among other things, proven Pandur II 8×8 CZ wheeled armoured vehicles in various modifications.
The battle group is expected to reach full operational capability in September. What needs to be done before then?
There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of alignment and synergies between the national units before the aforementioned September certification exercise. I am confident that we can do it. This belief is backed up by my familiarity with the individual national units and their readiness. There will be many national and international observers and evaluators at the certification exercise. That is why we want to succeed, to get an excellent evaluation and, above all, to show that our grouping is a full-fledged protection of NATO's eastern flank.