Minister Černochová presented the ten priorities of the Ministry of Defence
Defence Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) today presented to journalists the ten priorities of the Ministry of Defence for the entire election period. In addition to tackling acquisition projects and securing funding to reach the planned 2% of GDP in 2025, she wants to accelerate modernisation to ensure that the Army is qualitatively up to the needs and threats of the 21st century. According to the Minister, an important part of this process is not only a firm membership in NATO structures, but also support for the Czech arms industry.
Among the main tasks of her term of office, the Minister identified covering the budget of the Army. This is to be achieved not only by guaranteeing funds in the state budget, but also by creating support measures. The establishment of an investment fund for defence is certainly among the innovations. This is inspired by the first republican law on the adjustment of the military administration budget, No 240/1926 Coll., and is intended not only to support the Czech defence industry but also to cover the needs of the Army.
According to the minister, another important law that needs to be amended is the amendment to Act No. 134/2016 Coll. on public procurement. The last amendment, which is 6 years old, showed that the acquisition processes for military contracts need to be accelerated and simplified, the number of persons who can file objections needs to be narrowed and the life cycle parameters of tendered technologies need to be added.
All of these adjustments and changes are aimed at supporting the Czech defence industry so that the state can also help manufacturers using the G-G (government-to-government) method. The Czech Republic would thus become the fourth or fifth country in the world, counting Sweden, which allows this method of trade in military material. In addition, this method allows the state to better finance contracts in areas of foreign policy interests of the Czech Republic. To this end, the Ministry of Defence plans to cooperate closely with the defence industry section of the Czech Chamber of Commerce.
The establishment of the defence fund as a method for supporting the Czech arms industry and dealing with contracts for the Czech Armed Forces is an interesting novelty. Therefore, we asked Minister Černochová whether this solution is intended to facilitate the financing process and to replace the activities of commercial banks: „Maybe it would be useful now, given what is coming at us within the European Union, but I don't know at the moment. I don't think so, I think it should be more of an incentive for the export banks so that when they find that the state, the government is giving some kind of assurance, the Ministry of Finance will provide the funds, that it will be enough of an incentive to give the company a long-term loan, a loan," the minister specified.
An important task of the ministry is also the implementation of army contracts. Among other things, the minister visited the 7th Mechanised Brigade in Hranice last week and had the opportunity to see the current state of the equipment with her own eyes. These include in particular the tender for tracked IFVs, which has been running since 2015, modern tanks and the provision of the Czech Republic's airspace defence with supersonic aviation.
However, according to Černochová, the new threats are not only of a conventional nature, but are growing into new risks requiring the use of autonomous combat systems, artificial intelligence, etc. That is why the Minister wants to involve science, research and innovation in Czech industry more so that they are involved in solving projects that the army will need in the future. "The threats of the 21st century are not only conventional, but also virtual and cosmic," said the Minister at the press conference, who went on to say that only an adequately equipped and combat-capable army, which invests in its own defence (Article 3 of the Washington Treaty), can be a valid member of NATO, and reminded that military cooperation must work on the territory of the European Union, with the aim of not fragmenting this effort by creating an "EU army" but by supporting NATO.
Based on the experience with the end of the mission in Afghanistan, the need to modify the Constitution of the Czech Republic, or Article 43 on the deployment of the Czech Armed Forces abroad, in order to speed up the decision-making process on the deployment of our soldiers to designated destinations, has become an important task for the Ministry of Defence. On the other hand, the deployment of the army must not be endless and must be evaluated.
Another important part of the development and construction of the Army is the recruitment of new soldiers. Here, the ministry plans to create a virtual recruitment area so that interested parties can see everything they need in one place, familiarise themselves with information and relevant documents. Videos with presentations of troop types/specialties, simulations of activities, etc. should also be available to those interested.
According to Černochová, it is also essential how the defence ministry will continue to work with former professionals and veterans. Soldiers and reservists should support teaching and training in schools and participate in teacher training as part of the POKOS 2.0 (Preparing Citizens for National Defence) programme. War veterans deserve more attention, according to the Minister, and not only in terms of increasing the number of community centres in our country. Today there are 4 centres in the country and the ambition is to have a centre in every regional town. The Department is also looking forward to updating the 2017 Concept of Care for War Veterans, promoting the building of military traditions and commemorating important anniversaries and heroes in the next 4 years.