We tried out the "Soldier on Trial" event for ourselves
Our editorial team had an exceptional opportunity to personally experience what the air defence work entails as part of the recruitment event "Soldier on Trial", which was organized for the sixth time this year by the Strakonice 25th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment.
The demanding programme prepared by the 25th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment gave the participants an insight into all the regiment's activities. Thirty interested persons, who visited the Strakonice barracks on Friday, 14 October, were able to try out not only the basic skills of soldiers, but also quite specific activities that are only mastered by members of the ground air defence troops.
On Friday morning, 30 men and women gathered at the gatehouse of the Strakonice base and awaited a challenging all-day programme. After a basic introduction to the program and the necessary administration, we moved to the vehicle park, where specialists presented the vehicles used by the regiment, including the latest fire control equipment.
The aim of the event was to give those interested in working in the army or people interested in the work of the anti-aircraft regiment a realistic and first-hand view of what would be expected at the military unit in Strakonice. The most physically demanding activity was the disassembly, transfer and re-installation of the RBS-70 anti-aircraft complex. Each part of the complex weighed from 5 to 15 kilograms and we worked up quite a sweat. "Some people were surprised how much the individual parts of the kit weighed, they probably expected it to be lighter," commented Staff Sergeant Ptáček.
Moving the weapon and assembling it were challenging but manageable tasks, followed by firing on the simulator. Trying out how these weapons work was a truly unique experience and shooting down a helicopter or aircraft on the simulator was quite challenging. This is because the RBS-70 anti-aircraft kit is not self-guided, but works on the accuracy of the gunner who guides the missile with a laser until the target is hit. One of those who was quite good at shooting on the RBS-70 anti-aircraft trainer was Patrik Gyevat. "I used to work as a welder, so my hands don't get shaky," he explained why he had no trouble controlling the sensitive joystick. But he admitted that he was unable to shoot down faster and more manoeuvrable targets, such as fighter planes. "One needs proper military training and drill to do that," admitted the 21-year-old, who is a trained car mechanic. Staff Sergeant Tomáš Ptáček also confirmed that many young people have no problems shooting down simpler targets on the simulator. "They adapt more quickly to the new system, the activity on the simulator in a way resembles a computer game. Some of them said that it looks like a PlayStation," revealed the instructor who was working with the civilians during the event. "They were very interested in it, which is another prerequisite for them to do well as soldiers," he added.
Part of military life is also knowing self-defense or mastering basic first aid, which I once again experienced firsthand. Knowing how to defend yourself against a knife attack or knowing how to stop a massive bleed is always useful.
In the woods behind the base, we were then treated to a demonstration of combat drill, i.e. the correct holding and handling of a weapon, basic formations, patrolling, ambushing, withdrawing from a dangerous area and other activities of soldiers in the field, in short, everything that every soldier should know well. The instructors did not spare smoke bombs or blank cartridges, so that all those who were interested could at least for a while experience what it is like to "rumble".
Subsequently, there was an introduction to the 2K12-KUB anti-aircraft missile system of Soviet provenance nicknamed "three fingers of death", which forms the basis of the anti-aircraft armament of the Strakonice regiment, until the rearmament with the modern Israeli SPYDER system. First, a test of loading the missiles with a crane took place, with the missiles themselves simulating buckets of water. Just don't spill them.
This was followed by familiarization with the operation of the radar, its "spin-up" and targeting of aerial targets. The icing on the cake was a ride on a tracked missile carrier. Those who dared could try driving it, which I did not miss. The ride confirmed to me that the tracked chassis can handle the rough terrain.
Driving the combat tracked vehicle surprised my colleague Patrick, who did not find the handling of the vehicle difficult, but was surprised by how physically demanding it was. He could not imagine driving the vehicle for two hours at a stretch, for example. Before joining the army, however, this did not deter him. "It's been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Like every little boy, I loved playing soldiers and it didn't leave me even later. This event has only confirmed that I want to devote myself to this profession one hundred percent," Patrik added.
The evaluation of the event took place after dark around seven o'clock and the result was clear - the experience-packed day completely showed all participants the work of the anti-aircraft regiment and many of them showed interest in the work of a professional soldier.
Jan Špičák, who has been serving in the Active Reserve unit for the fourth year and would like to go pro, arrived at the event with great enthusiasm. "I see this as an opportunity to keep what I already know and at the same time to learn something new and gain new experience." In civilian life, he works in a factory that makes shelves. But it's only a temporary job for him until he can find a position in the military or other armed services. "I am very attracted by the position I have been offered. I find the service in the anti-aircraft regiment in Strakonice interesting also because of the planned rearmament of the 251st section to the modern SPYDER system," added Jan Špičák.
Picture: Spending a day at the "Soldier on Trial" event in Strakonice was a truly exceptional experience for me and I positively evaluate especially the approach of the instructors who fully devoted themselves to all interested persons throughout the day and passed on their experience. | Tomáš Kolařík / CZ DEFENCE
Ondřej, another interested candidate, added: "I am interested in working in the army, at least in the Active Reserve, until I finish my university studies. Today's event gave me the opportunity to try out a job in one of the units I am interested in working in as a professional soldier. I'm glad I was able to not only tour the base, but also try out different positions in an anti-aircraft unit."
Spending a day as part of the "Soldier on Trial" event in Strakonice was a truly exceptional experience for me and I positively evaluate especially the approach of the instructors who fully devoted themselves to all interested persons throughout the day and passed on their experience.