Our security cannot be taken for granted

 11. 03. 2022      category: Events
Přidat na Seznam.cz

The 9th annual Our Security Cannot be Taken for Granted conference, which is held annually at this time to mark the anniversary of the Czech Republic's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, had one major common theme, as expected - the unprecedented military attack on Ukraine by Russia. Also this year, political and military leaders and experts addressed the current security situation, threats and needs for the growth of further capabilities of the army, defence industry and security of the Czech Republic.

konference_2022Picture: The 9th annual Our Security Cannot be Taken for Granted conference, which is held every year at this time to mark the anniversary of the Czech Republic's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, had one big common theme, as expected - the unprecedented military attack on Ukraine by Russia. | Jan Zilvar | CZ DEFENCE

After the opening greeting by President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Petr Fiala delivered his message. On the same day, he attended an informal meeting of presidents and prime ministers of the European Union in Versailles, France, to agree on further joint action against Russia and on options for assistance to Ukraine. The conference was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Deputy Minister František Šulc and Tomáš Kopečný, Deputy Minister for Industrial Cooperation. Václav Bartuška, Special Representative for Energy Security, and Jiří Šedivý, Executive Director of the European Defence Agency (EDA), Alexandr Vondra, Member of the European Parliament, Karel Řehka, Director of the National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NUKIB), and others delivered their speeches. In the panel dedicated to the Czech defence industry, Marek Mora, Deputy Governor of the CNB, and Lubomír Kovařík, Chairman of the Defence Industry Section of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the problems and obstacles in financing this industry. Political aspects and perspectives were addressed by representatives of political parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies.

Among the key speeches was a speech by the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic, General Ales Opata. He recalled his last year's speech right at the beginning, when he had already pointed out the risks and threats which, unfortunately, are coming true. According to General Opata, perhaps the era of downplaying threats and the alleged futility of defence spending is over, the false sense of security has ended. The Czech Army is still not where it should be in its modernisation. Although long-range guns, the SPYDER air defence system, new small arms, ballistics, satellite communications, helicopters and new CASA aircraft have been acquired, the basic shortcoming is still, according to Gen. Opata's lack of new tracked IFVs. The need for them is shown daily by the footage from Ukraine. In this context, Opata recalled the words of the former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, who said: "We cannot choose between threats; with exaggeration, the threats choose us." The Chief of the General Staff went on to add that half the world hoped Russia would not attack. "Hoping is not a plan, it is not a strategy, hoping is a precursor to defeat," Opata clarified.

fond_TITPicture: The fundamental flaw is still, according to Gen. Opata's lack of new tracked IFVs (illustration photo) | mjr. Ladislav Kabat

Among the key speeches was a speech by the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic, General Ales Opata. He recalled his last year's speech right at the beginning, when he had already pointed out the risks and threats which, unfortunately, are coming true. According to General Opata, perhaps the era of downplaying threats and the alleged futility of defence spending is over, the false sense of security has ended. The Czech Army is still not where it should be in its modernisation. Although long-range guns, the SPYDER air defence system, new small arms, ballistics, satellite communications, helicopters and new CASA aircraft have been acquired, the basic shortcoming is still, according to Gen. Opata's lack of new tracked IFVs. The need for them is shown daily by the footage from Ukraine. In this context, Opata recalled the words of the former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, who said: "We cannot choose between threats; with exaggeration, the threats choose us." The Chief of the General Staff went on to add that half the world hoped Russia would not attack. "Hoping is not a plan, it is not a strategy, hoping is a precursor to defeat," Opata clarified.

General Opata concluded his speech by recalling that the acquisition process must undergo a revolutionary change. "It must be changed from the ground up, it must be accelerated, all the alibi stages of the process must be removed. We have to say goodbye to a system where there are more people involved in the control and oversight of the acquisition process than in the acquisition process itself. It must no longer be the case that acquisitions take 10 years. We cannot have the same process for buying backpacks and combat vehicles. The modernisation of the Army must be a real strategic priority. Those who are involved in the acquisition process must be able to take similar risks as soldiers in combat operations," Opata stressed.

opataPicture: Chief of General Staff, General Aleš Opata | Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

On behalf of CZ DEFENCE we asked General Opata the following:

In view of the current situation in Ukraine, what specific steps do you think it is necessary to take in order to keep the Czech Republic safe?

The Czech Republic is safe, we are part of the North Atlantic Alliance and the European Union. Our contribution to security is not only the Czech Army, but also many other things within the EU.

According to current information, the eastern wing of the Alliance will be expanded and strengthened throughout the North-South belt.

As far as the expansion or strengthening of the eastern wing is concerned, that is basically the reality of the present time. Naturally, we are prepared to respond to this not only as the Czech Republic, but also as NATO. The security on the eastern borders of the Alliance will be strengthened. The Czech Republic is one of the few states that has troops in the two Baltic states. We have troops in Latvia and Lithuania. The Americans and the British are in more places as well.

Is the Czech Armed Forces ready for this type of conflict? What do you think our army lacks and what would need to be urgently replenished?

I repeat it a hundred times, we are not the most modern army in the world, but we have very good and experienced soldiers. And if one thinks about it in retrospect, one will find that the Czech Army has been fighting and deployed in various operations for 30 years. And even those 20 years in Afghanistan gave us a lot of experience and a lot of other things that will be useful to us now. And that is exactly why the Czech Army is an experienced army.

 Author: Jan Zilvar