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First hands-on experience with the new Czech-made assault rifle inside, p.16–17

assault rifles introduced to the Czech Armed Forces inventory

Dear readers, Every year is rich in events for the MoD and the Armed Forces and the one that has just passed was no exception to that. As the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, I regard the year 2011 as fully used and productive.   The White Paper on Defence exactly defined the current condition of the Armed Forces and delineated its future development guidelines. None of us may question the efforts we are exerting to deliver on the commitments we made to NATO, including under the present uneasy economic situation. We still enjoy the right to co-shape NATO’s security policy. Our deployments on foreign operation maintain their traditionally high credit and renown.   Professional military service is not easy. That may possibly be a part of the magic of holidays including Christmas, that we realise more the value of family, love, friendship and feel how closely they link with the will to serve to our best abilities to a good cause at home and overseas.   I am taking the liberty of expressing my sincere thanks and commendation to all of you, soldiers and defence civilians, for everything you have devoted to the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic over the past twelve months. Let me wish you merry Christmas and the new year 2012 marked by achievements and the best of luck. May 2012 be a year with solid foundations of our common courage to stand up to the tests, assignments and challenges it holds.

Dear Colleagues,

The Christmas time is a time of still and contemplation, which imbues hope with all, even the greatest pessimists. A hope that all their secrets would come true, or that they will do better in the new year. We carry those expectations deep inside from our childhood, when we waited breathless whether our desires would materialise under the shining Christmas tree. Over time, you have surely – same as me – realised miracles do not happen spontaneously and that no power from above would help us unless we contribute our bit. Everything we wish for and desire, including happiness and joy of our families, is what we all have in our hands. I often regard the Armed Forces as one big family that lives its own life at its own pace throughout the year. Its members experience pleasure and joy, but also disappointment and sorrow. Worries and misunderstandings occur too. But every family calms down for Christmas, edges become blunt. People find it easier to forget about unpleasant moments, reconcile and enjoy being together. I would very much value if you, the members of the big military family, no matter whether wearing the green, blue, sandy or civilian garments, home and abroad, same as in your personal life, started from yourselves. And I would be privileged should you decide that despite all the changes that the economic restrictions entail you take pride in belonging to us.

Alexandr Vondra, Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic

General Vlastimil Picek Chief of General Staff Czech Armed Forces

Doing an Excellent Job Time to go… Kosovo in retrospect Operation Desert Serpent Czechs and AWACS Aligning the crosshairs with the hit point A Friendly Handshake Frontline Medics Exercise Boleslavská hradba Cleared Hot! Krystof 07 Inbound to Help MEDCAP No fear, just respect Not just about surviving Tanks taking a bath Certification under fire Dusty Mountain Trial Combat Survival A Dirty Bomb Attack Black Bear Paw Striking Scrambled within 15 minutes! The Pilot with Two Lives A Game of Light and Shadows Not just about the bull’s eye A Too Proud Son of the Chodsko Region 2 4 8 11 12 16 18 22 24 27 30 32 34 38 41 42 44 48 50 52 56 58 60 62 64

Dear reader, Looking at the Czech Armed Forces Review publication schedule, my forehead nearly broke out in sweat as I realised that you will be receiving the magazine delivered virtually to your Christmas table. I am taking the liberty of wishing to you and your families merry Christmas. It is incredible that six months have already passed from when the previous issue came out. Time truly flies. What were all events that took place in that period of time? What were all the places that Czech servicepeople met their international comrades in? How many national and international exercises took place, how many patrolling missions were accomplished in Afghanistan? So many questions, even more developments. And yet there are just sixty-four pages available. What is my recommendation? That is a challenge; not only because you may be a part of different services – the infantry, cavalry, artillery, CIMIC/PSYOPers, Military Police or logisticians, but also for purely practical reasons – the focus of your reader interest. Some are keen to read reportages, others expect data and facts and yet others search for purely historical articles. I may assure all of you that the following pages truly deliver such content. Yes, I am flattering myself, but make your mind yourself. We are printing coverage of operational deployments in Afghanistan and Kosovo, offer an article on Czech helicopter training in mountains and, speaking of pilots, we should not omit the Czech involvement in the AWACS programme. Airmen would forgive me, but training of infantry, snipers, medics, CBRN and Military Police personnel is not less interesting, demanding, and requires excellent physical condition and mental abilities. I must not forget, as the cover suggests, the training that Czech service personnel undergo as part of ISAF predeployment preparation with the new Czech-made CZ 805 BREN rifles. So, you are invited to browse and read. By the way of conclusion, let me wish you the very best of luck, a sound health and contentment in the New Year. PF 2012. Jan Procházka, Editor-in-Chief

Published by MoD CR, Commnication and Promotion Department Tychonova 1, 160 01 Praha 6, Czech Republic Identification number: 60162694 Address: Rooseveltova 23, 161 05 Praha 6, Czech Republic Phone: +420 973 215 553, +420 973 215 786 Editor-in-chief: Jan Procházka, e-mail: Layout: Andrea Bělohlávková  Translation: Jan Jindra  Cover photos by Jan Kouba Distributed by MoD PDD – Production Section Rooseveltova 23, 161 05 Praha 6, Czech Republic Oľga Endlová, tel. +420 973 215 563 Printed by: EUROPRINT, a. s. ISSN 1804-9672 Registration number: MK ČR E 18227 Published: December 2012

that such excellent soldiers represent us here,“ Minister Vondra underscored. Chief of General Staff Czech Armed Forces said he also valued the effort by the 601 SFG deployment: ”You have done a tremendous job already over the short period of time you have been here and I hope you will stay the course.“ Prior to his departure to the Czech Republic, the Defence Minister met in Kabul with Afghani Minister of Defence, Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Interior Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and deputy commander NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A), Dr. Jack Kem. On behalf of the Czech Government, Minister Vondra informed them about the donation in the form of two thousand magazines for AK-47 rifles. In addition to that, he presented to the senior Afghani officials a list of surplus materiel that the Czech Armed Forces made available for Afghanistan. ”I have reassured my Afghani counterparts that the Czech Republic remains committed to continuously supporting Afghanistan – especially now as Afghani authorities take over a  greater share of responsibility for security as a  part of the transition process,“ Minister Vondra pointed out. On the future deployments of Czech forces in Afghanistan, Minister Vondra said: “The Czech contribution has culminated this year; we have 720 of our troops in Afghanistan. The Heli Unit is scheduled to terminate their deployment at FOB Sharana in the autumn, which is a planned and coordinated measure. We plan two rotations for the Special Forces contingent, so I  believe their deployment will end sometime in the summer next year. In 2012, while we are still under the mandate authorised by the Czech Parliament, the process of transition will carry on. In any case, we intend to downsize our foreign deployments in the future.“
By MoD Communication and Promotion Department editorial team

Doing an Excellent Job
At the beginning of September earlier this year, Czech Minister of Defence Alexandr Vondra and Chief of Defence General Vlastimil Picek paid a visit to Czech deployments in Afghanistan and met with local government and senior ISAF officials. The Czech delegation also comprised the Czech Ambassador in the U.S. Petr Gandalovič and Parliamentarians.
The principal reason that brought the Defence Minister to Afghanistan was his desire to thank Czech servicepeople for the job they have done there and express his support to them. Over two days, the delegation visited three bases where Czech Armed Forces personnel are stationed. Minister Vondra said the security situation in Afghanistan was much calmer as opposed to springtime, including because the number had grown of well trained Afghani National Army troops and Afghani National Police officers. The Czech service personnel are involved in training and mentoring Afghani National Security Forces and the Allies highly value their achievements. The other reason for the trip was to get the picture on the ground of the ongoing transition of individual territories into the hands of Afghani authorities. “Apart from Kabul, Czech men and women in uniform have served in three provinces that have not transitioned yet, but they will be up next year. That will increase the demand for planning and possible force restructuring and we wanted to discuss these issues directly in Afghanistan,“ Minister Vondra said. As part of the program, the delegation led by Minister Vondra also visited the brand-new camp of the 601st Special Forces Group in the Nangarhar close to Jalalabad. Base construction was completed at the end of September and a flag raising ceremony took place in attendance of the Defence Minister. “I highly appreciate the opportunity to be here today. I  am amidst of the Czech Armed Forces elite soldiers. The operators of 601st SFG returned to a place they have been before, as they have operated in this location in what was the historically first Czech Armed Forces operation after World War II. Once again, they are faced with an assignment of challenging special operations mission plus preparation and training of an Afghani National Police special forces. I am confident they have been perfectly ready for the mission. I am proud




KFOR 1999–2011

Time to go…
“Diten e mir nga uštaret ček“ – “Good-bye Czech soldiers,“ the locals in Kosovo said to the members of the Czech Armed Forces Task Force KFOR on farewell.



KFOR 1999–2011
Commander Czech Armed Forces Task Force Major Josef Nejedlý locks the entry gate of Camp Sajkovac in North-East of Kosovo and hands the keys over to new owner, waterworks director Ilmi Selimi. After a twelve years’ endeavour in NATO’s multinational peace effort called operation Joint Guardian and later operation Joint Enterprise marks another important milestone in the history of the Czech Armed Forces. It is Monday, October 27th, 2011, a couple of minutes after twelve o’clock.
“The base is ready for handover. We have accomplished the mission,“ says the commander of the ACR KFOR Task Force Major Nejedlý and specifies more than a four-month effort by his ninety-nine subordinates comprising personnel not only from the 141st Supply Battalion of the 14th Logistic Support Brigade Pardubice, but also from additional twwnty-eight military units and components of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. “All outstanding contractual issues have been settled. Serviceable military equipment, weapons and materiel have been transported back to the Czech Republic. A part of the materiel that is too old and worn to justify its transportation into the Czech Republic was offered to our Greek colleagues who continue their operational assignment. We also donated some items to the local authorities. That involves some of the accommodation containers that the Czech Republic has used already from when it operated as a part of SFOR in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and construction, housing and communications materiel,“ MAJ Nejedlý specified. That is definitely not everything the Czech Republic armed forces offered to the locals. ”In the water-works areal, specifically on the premises of what used be the former vehicle pool, we will keep all fencing, plus lighting and the gravel bed,“ the chief of logistic tasks force First-Lieutenant Karel Kostelecký specifies. On the whole, the Czech Armed Forces is leaving Camp Sajkovac, named by soldiers as the ”Shaikh“, “Eagle Nest“ or “Shaykatraz “, without any outstanding obligations and they also amply accommodated all local requests for materiel. It is correct to say that Czech professionals left Sajkovac, but not Kosovo at large. In 2012, about a dozen of Czech Armed Forces personnel will serve tours at Headquarters KFOR. Moreover, a number of those who had then served as platoon leaders and company commanders in KFOR subsequently performed tasks in more senior positions as a part of Operation ISAF in Afghanistan. The footprint that Czechs have left in Kosovo is quite distinct. Although it has been over twelve years, local people still remember the name of the first deployment’s commander (6th  Reconnaissance Company 6th Special Brigade) Colonel Karel Klinovský. It should be noted in this respect that all Czech Armed Forces deployments, beginning with reconnaissance companies, Czech-Slovak Battalions and autonomous Czech Armed Forces contingents, performed an operational assignment in the area of interest. On June 30, 2011, when the base closing commenced as well as transfer of equipment and materiel into the Czech Republic, the 2nd CZE Task Force was sort of an exception to that. ”Our primary task associated with handing over Camp Sajkovac naturally differed from standard operational deployment. The company did not comprise warfighters, but specialists including drivers, engineers, depot operators, guards. Nevertheless we approached our tasking as an operational assignment in a  combat operation. We have also performed one-hundred percent and been maxed out,“ support company commander Captain Jiří Kubík explains.

Leaving with a clean sheet

Half of the Czech military served in Kosovo

With all due respect to the hundreds of manhours and thousands of most various items transported on kilometres of trains, let us briefly entertain the human potential. In twenty-three Czech Armed Forces deployments, the total of 8,261 men and women in uniform served tours in Kosovo plus additional 1,090 Czech Armed Forces personnel formed the reserve forces (company and a battalion) on home stations since 1999. With a  bit of exaggeration, a  half of Czech military professionals went through Kosovo.

Respectable and emotional, that was the ceremony in honour of handing over Camp Sajkovac and terminating Czech contingent in KFOR. The ceremony was attended by prominent guests including the Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Kosovo H.E. Jiří Doležel, representative of the Pristina region Mr. Gjelosh Vataj, mayor of Podujevo Mr. Agim Veliu as well as senior officials from HQ KFOR, EULEX and UNMIK. The Czech Armed Forces delegation was headed by Deputy Director of the MoD Joint Operations Centre Colonel Jaroslav Kankia. The ceremony started with addresses. ”I always underscore that the greatest credit for mission success goes to two units – the first one and last one. The Task Force you are a part of has done a tremendous job here. In a very short period of time, you have managed to dismantle and clear the whole base, progressively meet scheduled timelines for transferring equipment and materiel back to the Czech Republic plus you have aided many families here with our surplus materiel. Thank you very much for representing the Czech Republic and the Czech Armed Forces in an outstanding manner,“ COL

Kankia emphasised. The Czech Ambassador in Kosovo Jiří Doležel followed on: ”Today is both a very important and a sad day for us at the same time. We got used to that there is the Czech flag streaming over Sajkovac and we meet Czech soldiers in Kosovo. Now it is over. But we may conclude, thanks to the Czech Armed Forces service personnel, that Kosovo has become a country open for Czechs and we, the diplomats, must make use of this open door opportunity for developing multifaceted relationships.“ The ceremony continued with signing of the handover protocol, revealing of a  memorial plaque that will commemorate the many years’ endeavour by Czech men and women in uniform

here, and came to a  head by handing over the symbolical key from the camp to the director of the waterworks facility. At the very end, the national flag of the Czech Republic was lowered and the Kosovo Republic flag raised, both with military honours. “Every morning when I woke up and saw the lights at Czech base were on I knew I was safe with my family and did not have to worry about anything. I will miss you very much,“ one of the local citizens shows his feelings. “We have accomplished our mission, it is time to leave. Good-bye Kosovo,“ Major Nejedlý concludes.
by Pavel Lang



full in March 2004. Beyond their area of responsibility, the Czech forces assisted the Swedish, Finnish and Irish contingents at Obilic, Kosovo Polje, Gracanica, Ajvalija, Caglavica, Plemetina and other locations in Kosovo. They also took over from Swedes in guarding the most prominent Serbian monument in the country, a  memorial to their momentous 1389 battle against Turks at Kosovo Polje – the Gazimestan. One of the worst situations for our contingent occurred when a  crowd of several hundred Kosovar Albanians marching towards the Administrative Border Line suddenly turned around and headed for a Serbian orthodox church in the outskirts of Podujevo, guarded by a handful of Czech troops. While the crowd was about to storm the church, the contingent commander decided it would be reasonable to withdraw his soldiers. The frenzied protesters finally used fuel to blow up a part of the church.

Brigade turning into a task force

The Multinational Brigade Center was reorganised at the end of 2004 in response to the civil unrests that had taken place in March earlier that year. The Czech-Slovak battalion realigned adequately to the new structure. Subsequently, it could be assigned to the Balkan Joint Operations Area (JOA) concept - to deploy in the territory of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and possibly Macedonia alike. The unit was trained

for crowd and riot control type of missions. One mechanised company was equipped with shields, protectors and batons. Search operations were quite frequent at that time, with special focus on detecting illegally held arms. “One of our patrols decided to check a  vehicle passing by them in Podujevo. It carried a married couple and children. Soldiers found a pistol the woman was having. They reported that to ops centre at 23:50hrs. A standard procedure was initiated there, as we communicated the info to the MN Task Force command headquarters and requested

The total of 8,261 Czech Armed Forces personnel served a  tour in KFOR over the twelve years. Together with reserve companies that were on standby at their home stations in the Czech Republic, the endeavour involved more than ten thousand men and women in uniform. In aggregate, twenty-three Czech deployments served in Kosovo:   6th Reconnaissance Company, AN-26 aircraft (June 1999 through January 2000). Commander: Lieutenant–Colonel Karel Klinovský   4. Reconnaissance Company, AN-26 aircraft (January through July 2000). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimír Podlipný   2. Reconnaissance Company, AN-26 aircraft (July 2000 through January 2001). Commander: Major Zdeněk Pitner   7. Reconnaissance Company, AN-26 aircraft (January through July 2001). Commander: Major Vlastimil Rozumek   11. Reconnaissance Company (July 2001 through January 2002). Commander: Major Petr Smola   1st Czech-Slovak Battalion KFOR (January through July 2002). Contingent commanders: Lieutenant-Colonel Ĺubomír Frk, Lieutenant-Colonel Jiří Dragan   2nd Czech-Slovak Battalion KFOR (July 2002 through February 2003). Contingent commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Aleš Opata, Battalion commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Petr Procházka   3rd Czech-Slovak Battalion KFOR (February through October 2003). Contingent commander: Colonel Rostislav Jaroš, Battalion commander Lieutenant-Colonel Josef Kopecký   4th Czech-Slovak Battalion KFOR (October 2003 through April 2004). Contingent commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Ivo Střecha, Battalion commanders Lieutenant-Colonel Zdeněk Havala, Lieutenant-Colonel Josef Kopecký   5th Czech-Slovak Battalion KFOR (May through December 2004). Contingent commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Aleš Vodehnal, Battalion commander Lieutenant-Colonel Antonín Genser   6th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (December 2004 through July 2005). Contingent commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Jaroslav Trojan, Base commander Major Náhončík   7th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (July 2005 through January 2006). Commander: Colonel Aleš Vodehnal – Commander MNB(C)   8th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (January through July 2006). Commander: Colonel Miroslav Hlaváč – Commander MNB(C), later on Commander MNTF(C)   9th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (July 2006 through January 2007). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Pavel Lipka   10th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (January through July 2007). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Ladislav Švejda   11th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (July 2007 through January 2008). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Milan Schulc   12th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (January through July 2008). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Jiří David   13th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (July 2008 through January 2009). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Jiří Roček   14th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (January through July 2009). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Róbert Bielený   15th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (July 2009 through January 2010). Contingent commanders: Lieutenant-Colonel Jiří Kývala, Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Cífka   16th Contingent Czech Armed Forces KFOR (February through October 2010). Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Kavalír   1st Task Force CZE ORF KFOR (October 2010 through July 2011). Commander Task Force: Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Cífka, commander ORF core (deployed in Kosovo) Major Ladislav Horák   2nd Task Force CZE KFOR (June through October 2011). Commander Task Force: Major Josef Nejedlý

The twelve-year endeavour of Czech service personnel in Kosovo comprises of a range of different chapters

Kosovo in retrospect
The mission for the KFOR multinational forces in the territory of Kosovo has been to create and maintain a safe and secure environment to enable continuation of the peace process and democratic development in the country. The first Czech contingent arrived to Kosovo on July 12, 1999, just a couple of weeks after the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 authorised the mission.
The unit was led by Major Karel Klinovský and its core comprised special forces. The reconnaissance company operated in the Multinational Brigade Center area of responsibility and performed missions tasked by superior British battle group headquartered in Podujevo. The Czech company established its base in former school in Gornij Sibovac community. The Czech contingent’s primary mission was to guard a forty-two kilometre section of the Administrative Border Line separating Kosovo and Serbia. In addition to that, the Czech force was involved in registering and providing safe return for refugees and in fostering conditions for restoration of peaceful coexistence of Kosovar Serbs and Albanians. The company provided continuous security and protection of isolated locations where Serbian population lived, namely Sekiraca. Together with the People in Need foundation, the Czech Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) team provided for renovation of school in Hrlica community. The project was completed at the end of 1999. Czech CIMIC also cooperated with the Dřevařské závody Uničov, a  Czech wood processing company, to deliver ten portacabins for inhabitants in the environs of Orlane community located in the Czech contingent’s area of responsibility. A  sixteen-member Czech Air Force team with one An-26 aircraft also deployed for KFOR from the very beginning. They operated in support of KFOR forces and NATO AFSOUTH in Naples from the Split airport in Croatia. The contingent was reinforced with additional 56 personnel in November 1999. The company’s manoeuvre components were augmented in particular, as a  mechanised platoon and guard team, company ops staff, CIMIC and Military Police arrived. responded with a plan to progressively withdraw Allied forces. The nature of tasks changed too with a  shift to more policing type of missions. Show of force measures were progressively abandoned. Those steps however eventually turned out to be premature. Unrests among Kosovar Albanians and ethnic Serbs broke out in

Moving to Sajkovac

The second Czech contingent led by Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimír Podlipný managed to identify a more suitable facility to accommodate the Czech base: a waterworks on a hill over the Sajkovac community. The Czech forces both obtained a  suitable location and they provided security to the strategic infrastructure. The waterworks processed water from the Batlava Lake and supplied a major part of Kosovo. Later on, to better cover the area of responsibility, we took over the Gazala Lines camp from the Brits, which we operated until 2007. Already in 2001, it was decided to expand the contingent with additional four hundred troops. In February next year, a  five-hundred strong Czech-Slovak Battalion was formed. The Czech soldiers went through the most demanding period in 2004. At that time, there was every indication that the situation had been stabilised. KFOR command



search of the apprehended persons’ place of residence. Our soldiers immediately put the whole area under closure,“ Captain Martin Hajduch of the 7th Mechanised Brigade, the commander responsible for the operation, said at that time. Czech Armed Forces Colonel Aleš Vodehnal took over the command of the Multinational Brigade – Centre from Finland in summer 2005. Besides the Czech contingent, he was in command of the Slovak, Swedish, Finnish, Irish and Latvian contingent. It was historically first assignment of the type. The Czech-Slovak contingent’s area of responsibility progressively expanded to seven hundred square kilometres. The assigned territory included over eighty kilometres of the ABL. armed persons in Vgliarski Krs area, who were illegally cutting wood. It was obvious they were up to an organised group. In the encounter, instead of obeying the call to put down their weapons, the Albanians opened fire immediately. Czech soldiers answered. First they shot in the air, then beneath their legs. They managed to apprehend seven armed men and secure a sizeable weapons arsenal and other materiel. But one of the Czech soldiers was wounded in action. In spring 2006, the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic reinforced the contingent in Kosovo with a  company-equivalent operational reserve force comprising 116 personnel. The force was at their home station in the Czech Republic on a standby alert to deploy to the Balkans at a five days’ notice to move on request of the Commander Multinational Task Force Center. From April till December 2007, the contingent was augmented with a helicopter unit (two Mi-17 helicopters with aircrews and other personnel) that operated both in the territory of Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Czech pilots were involved in tactical drops, aeromobile operations, reconnaissance flights and VIP transport. To a limited extent, they were also able to provide the MEDEVAC role transporting casualties. Following an agreement with relevant NATO and KFOR authorities, the Czech Armed Forces High Command responded to the improved security situation in Kosovo in October 2010 by substantially downsizing the Czech contingent. The Czech Republic assigned a  489-strong operational reserve force battalion in support of the NATO’s Operation Joint Enterprise as Operation Joint Guardian had been renamed in 2005. Nevertheless, only the battalion core comprising 88 personnel actually deployed to Kosovo. The primary contingent components were on station in the Czech Republic. In case activated by the NATO Command in Naples, the battalion staff and a heavy mechanised company were to move to Kosovo territory within seven days. The last Czech Armed Forces deployment in Kosovo was the 2nd Task Force KFOR led by Major Josef Nejedlý. From June till October 2011, the task force was assigned to wind down and close the Sajkovac base, provide transportation of usable materiel and equipment back to the Czech Republic and hand over the waterworks facility to relevant Kosovar authorities by end October 2011.
by Vladimír Marek


Operation Desert Serpent
Nearly four months have passed from when the 8th deployment the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team took over its operational assignment. Czech service personnel deployed in Logar perform a whole range of activities including the assignment of Czech force components in support of security operations run by the U.S. Task Force Patriot and the succeeding TF Bulldog. To provide that support, the Czech PRT assigns a  reconnaissance company of the 43rd Airborne Mechanised Battalion in Chrudim. One of those operations was performed by the reconnaissance company personnel at the end of September. A group of over twenty warriors, including a sniper element, augmented with a forward air controller and artillery controller from the support company performed fire support missions for the US force that advanced in the Baraki Barak district area. The very mission that lasted five days was preceded by a planning process, materiel and combat preparation. “It was close to impossible to pack all the stuff into the kit,“ commander of reconnaissance company Lieutenant Marek Š commented that phase and went on to say: ”But we managed in the end. The kit weight fluctuated between forty-five and fifty-eight kilos, which is a pretty good load in the extreme conditions of Afghani mountains.“ The operation started at night by an air transfer to the TF Storm combat outpost. The Czech warriors met their American counterparts there and deconflicted the remaining details. Then all of them got onboard a  CH-47 Chinook and moved into the area of operations. “Upon the drop, the unit split in two parts, secured the area, got oriented and set out to the locations we were assigned to provide cover to the U.S. elements,“ Sergeant Jaroslav S., the leader of one of the groups, describes the beginning of the operation. Lieutenant Marek Š. comments on that: ”Despite our route was just a kilometre long, we had to negotiate a hundred and twenty metres elevation difference. After ten minutes or so, fire started targeting us from the village below. The shots were however pretty inaccurate, so we waited in cover till it ended without answering, not to reveal our activity and then we carried on our movement. Such situation repeated two times.“ Right on the first day the Czech servicepeople performed missions in the formation of deployed forces and actively supported their US comrades and assigned Afghani National Army (ANA) units. In the afternoon, they again got into contact with insurgencies. Upon engagement of their positions, they responded immediately and identified the area the opposing forces were firing from. Commander of the reconnaissance company Lieutenant Marek Š. Describes the following events: ”After a short while, we identified several persons armed with weapons typical for Afghanistan, the AK-47 Kalashnikov, and made them retreat using our firepower. Snipers played a major role at that point. Their action provided more freedom of movement for U.S. manoeuvre unit to continue its mission. The rest of the first day and the next day were free of any other incidents. On the third day an insurgency opened fire from the East that practically pinned us down on spot. Only one of us was able to answer fire and cover the rest of the unit. At that point we had no other choice than to call in the air. Thanks to excellent skills of the forward air controller we got out of this nearly no-win situation without suffering any major injuries or damage. In several minutes, insurgents engaged our colleagues two kilometres away. But they were in a more difficult situation: engagement from three sides. Thanks to an excellent coordination and massive firepower they managed to disengage from the contact and continue the mission.“ The rest of the operation was easier. The US manoeuvre unit moved farther north. The Czech soldiers held their positions in the meantime and relied on themselves. On the eve of departure they packed their stuff and removed anything that could indicate their presence. ”We managed to move at night from a steep hill to the pick-up point without problems. In those moments, everyone of us felt hardness and sharpness of stones in the impassable Afghani mountains that caused us countless grazes and minor wounds,“ Lieutenant Marek Š. concludes his description of the unit’s deployment in the Baraki Barak district and adds: ”We secured the area and waited for the arrival of a chopper to move us to our station, Camp Shank.“

Soldiers under fire

The Czech servicepeople got under fire several times during as they performed service duties in Kosovo. On Tuesday November 8, 2005, sergeant Karel Meloun of the 43rd Airborne Mechanised Battalion suffered an injury. On a several hours’ patrol along the administrative border line, the Czech patrol hit

by MAJ Jolana Fedorková and LT Marek Š.



Major Milan Vojáček has served at Geilenkirchen since August 2009 in a double position of Czech national military representative and as operation pilot. ”I presently fly as the first pilot an I  am in training to become a captain. I will go to a course in that respect in the autumn later this year. Upon completion, I am returning to the 1st flying squadron with higher qualifications,“ MAJ Vojáček says and adds he is retrained at the same time to the Training Cargo Aircraft (TCA), which is a modified Boeing B-707/320C without the radar dish on its back; there are two of those at the airbase and allegedly are to be decommissioned at the end of 2011. The fact that NATO E-3A component has supported Operation ISAF in Afghanistan as well as Operation Unified Protector over Libya and in the Mediterranean, plus high-visibility events and humanitarian aid mission all around

Next challenge? The captain’s seat!

the globe gets reflected in the growing number of flight hours the flight personnel have. ”The pilots’ annual flight log counts in the magnitude of three hundred to five hundred hours. I  have personally completed over six hundred flight hours over the past fourteen months,“ says the Czech AWACS pilot. The fact that Major Vojáček has been so-called combat ready since April 2010 opens the door for him to live operations. ”Operational missions are substantially more complex as opposed to standard ones. First by their extremely long duration, which is challenging both physically and mentally. It is no exception that you are faced with a  number of unexpected situations during flights that must be resolved correctly,“ Major Vojáček describes. Asked about flights in areas of operations, he replies brusquely: “We are aware of possible risks in the area of interest. We are fully equipped and prepared for such type of operations. Permanent training and intensive flight effort provide required quality for our operational readiness.“ What MAJ Vojáček has been through already? He said the first two months were a  warm-up round for him to eventually master organisation and logistic type of tasks. Then he underwent a six-month drill with Training Wing, which he said with slight exaggeration was like ”going through hell“. April 2010 became an important milestone for him: he joined the 1st flying squadron as a  first pilot. He stays cool to outsiders saying that the harshest time is over for him and finally the ”calm“ phase comes. Next professional challenges lie before him, including an instructor course. Same as before, MAJ Vojáček is committed to do his very best to succeed.

Bored? Not in the slightest

Czechs and AWACS
To say two years ago that a Czech pilot would soon fly a NATO E-3A AWACS airplane and that the Czech Republic would become a full member of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control (NAEW&C) programme, one would preventively get referred for specialist care. But today, it is no longer an illusion, but reality; moreover, larger than initially envisioned.
Once the Czech Republic achieved the first mark, having signed the charter of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Programme Management Organization (NAPMO) from January 18, 2011, and becoming the eighteenth member nation of this unique NATO early warning and control programme, it was conceivable to look up to the second objective – personnel posting in the E-3A Component stationed at the Main Operating Base (MOB) in Geilenkirchen, Germany. It is no secret that four Czech military professionals have served with the Component: pilot Major Milan Vojáček with the 1st Flying Squadron, Navigator Captain Jindřich Sněhota with the 2nd Flying Squadron and Major Stanislav Hebr and Senior Warrant Officer David Švagerka serve with the Training Wing. From August 2011, the Czech four have grown to eight as additional Czech Armed Forces personnel started training in Geilenkirchen with planned future assignment to the operations team onboard the E-3A AWACS - the mission crew.

Captain Jindřich Sněhota joined the Component in September 2010 coming from the 24th AFB in Prague-Kbely, where he served as a  squadron navigator. His flight qualifications then involved roughly nineteen hundred flight hours flying the An-26 transport aircraft. He began academic training in Geilenkirchen at the

Flight posts only

Contrarily to their foreign colleagues (Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Federal Republic of Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania,

Greece, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States), the Czech Republic’s representation in the NAEW&C programme is the smallest in terms of personnel number, but all its existing posts, and the future ones as well, are flight posts. In other words, the Czech effort is exclusively operational, both in the cockpit (flight crew), and in the cabin (mission crew) of the AWACS aircraft. ”That we in a way picked up only flight posts is what I regard one of the positive aspects of the intensive negotiations we had with NATO partners. No doubt it also raises the prestige the Czech representation enjoys on this very reputable program,“ states Mr Jiří Bednář, the Czech Republic’s representative in NAPMO and identifies other states whose personnel serve at Geilenkirchen airbase in the aviation engineering service, air traffic management and logistic support. Many may ask whether the Czech Republic entertained the vision of an AWACS Czech-only flight crew in the accession process. ”Yes, such vision comes into consideration too. But nevertheless it is no news that all comes down to money. Trust me, it is very funding-intensive,“ Deputy Joint Force Commander / Commander Czech Air Force

Brigadier Jiří Verner underscores. Correct to say that flight posts provide a  much more efficient feedback conveying professional knowledge into the Czech Armed Forces. Czech Air Force personnel will help reinforce the NAEW&C component’s operational readiness, and that of NATO, and when their contracts terminate, they will transfer valuable know-how into the Czech Armed Forces units and components. The Czech Republic will not fill any flight engineer posts in the AWACS flight crews in the short term. As far as the board is concerned, the Czech representation will cover almost all functional specialists. The operation crew “at the back“ is led by a tactical director and comprises a fighter allocation officer, weapons controllers, passive controller, surveillance controller, surveillance operators, communications technician, radar technician and system technician. On the whole, the cockpit of Boeing B-707/320 aircraft with the typical spinning radome accommodates four personnel and the mission crew is made up of twelve specialists, whose number or specialism may change subject to specific operational demands.

Major Milan Vojáček



so to say, but upon meeting all professional and language training criteria. ”STANAG 3333 in English and five to seven years of relevant service experience. While AWACS aircraft are in reality flying CRCs, my qualifications were good enough. In my last years, I served at the Czech CRC both as a head of radar controller crew, and the head of control and reporting centre crew.“ He reported at MOB Geilenkirchen on December 1, 2010. His initial steps could lead nowhere else than to the TW or the Training Wing. The initial academic prologue focused on material part of AWACS. ”Recalling that I  had to read as many as twenty-five hundred pages in English, it still gives me chills. You are taking simulator training in parallel. I went for first tests in my system control competence,“ MAJ Hebr describes and says he completed the theoretical part in two months. ”Everybody has own pace wading through it. Some make it slower, some faster. For instance my American colleague has already flown the E-3A AWACS earlier in his career, which accelerated his training substantially.“ Upon completing the first step, there is the next one – the flight phase, which depends on individual specialisms on the mission crew. In MAJ Hebr’s case, it is maximum fourteen flights. ”I have been halfway through by now. If it goes in a standard way, I will have completed the flight phase with the TW at the end of July 2011. Then I will continue my training with the 1st Flying Squadron up to full combat ready,“ Major Hebr states and goes on to say that continuity of training is affected by a  number of factors. “Presently it proceeds a bit slower than I would have thought. The reasons are obvious: extremely high operational effort in areas of interest. Availability of operating machines as well as that of training instructors also play a role. But I do not yield to pessimism. I was given a chance and I highly appreciate that. I have to prove I am truly good enough to act in this prestigious air position. Time is not the critical factor, the key is my professional qualification,“ MAJ Hebr discusses his feelings.

Captain Jindřich Sněhota

SWO David Švagerka

beginning of October and at the end of that month he already had a  premiere training flight on an AWACS aircraft. ”Rather than the first flight, I keep recalling the second in the row. Why? It involved in-flight refuelling, moreover at night. Although I  was rather a  spectator there, it was an incredible experience.“ In the initial stage of the training, he learnt first hand there was no English like English. “My instructor was an American. From time to time, I had to stretch my imagination to the limit to understand what exactly the point was. But it was much more demanding with the tanker aircrews. Accents some nationalities have caused me problems. At the same time, it is an in-flight operation where there is no room for improvisation, let alone misunderstandings. There are detailed procedures in place for everything and you have to follow them strictly. It all builds on a close collaboration among the multinational aircrew members. A  mistake by one may in extreme cases have fatal consequences,“ CAPT Sněhota explains, whose contract with the E-3A Component is for five years, same as all other service personnel of the Czech Armed Forces. The six-month training drill, during which he completed fourteen flights, ended in February. Then he was assigned to the 2nd Flying Squadron the NATO E-3A Component. It did no last long before CAPT Sněhota was ordered for operational deployment in an area of interest. Not for a day, not for a week, but nearly for two months. Flight hours in his log accumulate fast. ”We were airborne with the An-26 for up to three hours; here eight-hour plus flights are not rare. It is indeed over whole Europe. Unfortunately I  have not had a  chance to see the Czech Republic from onboard AWACS. The planners are in charge,“ the navigators says. Asked whether he does not get bored on such long flights, he laughs heartily. ”Not in the slightest. Operational flights divide into phases and trust me no transfer into the so-called orbit or operating area does without a  navigator. To be in given spot at exact time encompasses endless calculations,“ CAPT Sněhota comments and underscores that navigators are presently in

Taking off

Major Stanislav Hebr

Senior Warrant Officer David Švagerka is also through six months with the Component; his previous assignment was with the Control and Reporting Centre in Stará Boleslav, Czech Republic, and as an assistant to the CRC crew leader. But that is past now. Today, all his talents and skills are employed to successfully complete the surveillance operator training. ”The training so far was not just theoretical. There have also been interesting activities associated with survival in emergencies, for example on water or in an aircraft on fire,“ SWO Švagerka says and specifies that he should have eight to twelve training flights with the TW and then transfer to the 1st Flying Squadron. The difference between his previous and current service is not substantial. “What I  did on the ground, that is search and identify targets using radars and specific modes, I will now do in the air,“ the Czech military professional states and summarises his experience at the Training Wing. ”I believe the most challenging for me was the speed at which specialists communicate onboard the aircraft.

Information flow is very fast and there are multiple sources. Maximum concentration and effort is not enough. You have to find an effective way of data processing and make it work faster over time. I believe it is just a question of time before it gets under your skin,“ SWO Švagerka says and describes the local reality. ”The Training Wing is not here to start with you from scratch. If it would be that way, training of this or that specialist would take inappropriately long. They would always give you a helping hand, but it is you who decide about your destiny. In reality, you “only” retrain to new systems. The basics must be already mastered. It is pretty harsh, but nevertheless fair. Either you are good enough, or not. There are rare cases of individuals not making it through Training Wing and ending,“ the Czech surveillance operator of the E-3A AWACS mission crew concludes.

by Pavel Lang Photos by Radko Janata and the E-3A Component

high demand and if there were no Hercules or Transall aircraft, the navigator profession would probably be forgotten.

In command of international crew

The decision of thirteen-member MoD board that Major Stanislav Hebr was the best qualified of three candidates to fill the post of tactical director or commander of operational crew onboard the E-3A AWACS was ruled in April last year. A couple of weeks later, the decision was communicated to the incumbent, then member of Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) of the 26th Command, Control and Reconnaissance Brigade headquartered in Stará Boleslav. ”Who would not be glad? It is the best way for your career to soar, moreover you serve in a multinational environment for extended period of time and with flight assignment to AWACS,“ MAJ Hebr recalls. Obviously, he did not become number one in the Czech AWACS draft for the colour of his eyes



using mortars. We shoot at the range of six hundred to fifteen hundred metres. We primarily seek to eliminate enemy personnel. We try and hit infantry with mortar fragments. Given the dispersal of ammunition used, the weapon’s precision is sufficient. We only fire high-explosive fragmentation munitions; we do not have illuminating and smoke shells available yet.“ Iveco light armoured vehicles assumed firing positions at another shooting range. These vehicles with stealth technology have also been borrowed from the 44th Motorised Battalion. Shooting the remote controlled Protector M151 A2 overhead weapon station is said to be as easy as playing a  computer game, regardless of the M2HB-QCB heavy machine gun mounted in the rooftop turret. I would highlight its accuracy above all. As far as I am concerned there is no trouble with reliability either.“ Soldiers add some tactical elements into shooting practice in the meantime. They are firing from behind obstacles, with right hand, left hand and on the move. In the next phase, the team tries responding to contact with the opponent. It deploys and eliminates the opponent in steps. ”We appreciate this is a new weapon. There are naturally differences in operating it, in working the safety, different loading. The weapon has a different weight and the centre of gravity; but we are getting accustomed. I believe it just takes a couple of practical shootings and it will all go under our skin,“ First-Lieutenant Josef Klíma assures. ”The assault rifle’s comfort is very userfriendly, it carries well. Shooting with the laser is like a fairytale; it resembles computer games. The collapsible bipod make the weapon much more stable and it fires even more accurately.“ Other soldiers approve of that positive assessment. There are definitely many more improved aspects on the assault rifle as opposed to the old one. It is more accurate, it does give such a  kick. Operating it is also simpler, thanks to which even the lesser experienced marksmen are able to achieve excellent results. In case one has mastered some essentials of shooting, it just takes for them to be able to fully operate the weapon. The plastic parts, as usual, were a source of embarrassment in the beginning, but soldiers got used to it over time. Contrarily to the Mod.58 rifle, it also has many sharp external edges. But that is also a question of habit too. The weapon is equipped with a substantially lighter transparent magazine. Shooters are able to have awareness of cartridges available. The mag is not yet fully compatible with other NATO standard assault rifles. There are plans to equip the weapons designated for use on operational deployments with universal magazine sockets. The idea is that if Czech soldiers would be running out of ammunition somewhere on the ground in Afghanistan, it would just take a U.S. comrade throwing an M-16 or M-4 magazine. They will be able to use it without problems and vice versa. “There is also the handguard that substantially improves and stabilises the grip. It houses legs forming a  bipod that furthermore enhances the combat potential this weapon offers. The whole rifle can swivel around it as needed. But the legs could be bigger; it would provide even more stability to the whole system,“ Sergeant First Class Přemysl Melichárek comments. ”The weapon is equipped with a folding stock, which should be replaced with a telescoping one in the future. Particularly taller individuals have problems with the folding stock, as it is relatively short, so they have to arch their backs when shooting.“

Future development intended

Twenty-six shooting sessions

The 4th deployment the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team has prepped for their deployment to Wardak, Afghanistan, with new weapons, including the CZ 805 BREN A1 assault rifle

Aligning the crosshairs with the hit point
The last months of 2011 saw the preparation come to a head of 4th deployment the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) for deployment in Wardak scheduled at the end of March next year. There were many bangs going on in the Libava Military Training Area as substantial part of the training was dedicated to shooting, especially the weapons that the 72nd Mechanised Battalion forming the 4th OMLT has not had much practical experience with.
Eighty-two millimetre mortars were the loudest. “Our unit does not have mortars in its inventory, so we had to borrow them from the 44th Light Motorised Battalion in Bučovice. Afghani National Army units we will be responsible for in Wardak are equipped with similar mortars, but those are Yugoslavian-made. We perform this type of training for all of our personnel to be able to mentor a  mortar team they will be responsible for at their assigned checkpoints. Only that way we will be able to use the mortars effectively for defending ourselves. Gaining essential skills will take two to three weeks,“ team leader of the weapons company Captain Michal Voltr explains. “We seek to simulate a scenario for a  unit under attack to defend themselves

The biggest novelties however are the new CZ 805 BREN A1 assault rifles and attachable forty-millimetre grenade launchers. ”We are organising this live fire exercise for every soldier to be able to operate the new assault rifles and other types of weapons that the personnel of our unit do not normally encounter. We focused on firing at standstill and now we are practising shooting on the move. We want for the warriors to be able to completely naturally operate the weapon and perform various missions that way. We will spend approximately thirty thousand cartridges for the CZ 805 assault rifles just over the next week,“ deputy commander 4th OMLT Major Martin Hajduch points out. ”By the end of the year, we plan to have as many as twenty-six day and night live shooting sessions. The experience using weapon has been superb so far,

The CZ 805 assault rifle successfully passed the control, military acceptance and complementary tests. It underwent nearly one hundred and fifty tests, including reliability tests in temperature interval from -50° to +50° Celsius or 5ft drop test. It was also tested for reliability in high humidity and dusty environments. Additional observations from practical use on foreign operations, especially those involving the Czech Armed Forces deployments, will be reflected in the ensuing variants. The 40-mm G1 grenade launcher that can be used either autonomously or on the rifle was also found satisfactory. “It is a good solid weapon giving small recoil. It is possible to take aim with it pretty exactly. I had no problems hitting a  10-metre square over two-hundred and fifty metres’ distance. Combined with the rifle the system is heavier, but we can cope,“ SFC Jiří Kývala concluded. Preparation of the 4th deployment the Operational Liaison and Mentoring Team is to come to head at the beginning of the next year at the Joint Multinational Readiness Centre in Hohenfels, Germany.

By Vladimír Marek

Rifle as a construction kit

The rifle’s modularity and a  broad range of attachable accessories provide a great value added. Picatinny rails are affixed along the top, on the sides and on the case bottom. When shooting with the collimator, optical and laser sight, the mechanical sights get simply stowed. ”We had collimators on Mod.58 too, it is a great benefit. But here we have optical sight that magnifies three times in addition to that, not to speak about the laser sights,“ Sergeant Miroslav Nový underscores. ”Shooting in bursts does not lift the barrel as was the case with the Mod.58. With cal 7.62mm, we made up for it using a lift compensator, but it was not enough anyway.“




A Friendly Handshake
The mission of the Logar Provincial Reconstruction Team remains unchanged from 2008. The primary assignment is to support the local government and relating development of the Logar province and the associated support to the Afghani National Army and Afghani National Police, not only by the means of mutual cooperation but also by training and mentoring the ANSF forces.
What changes though with every new unit is the manner those assignments are performed. The reasons for different performance of the operational assignment are diverse. The key factor however is security situation developments. There are areas in the Logar province that pose minimal security risks to ISAF forces, such as in Khoshi district, where patrols were planned with a  number of additional security measures just a year ago. There are areas on the other hand where security situation is very unstable and reconstruction activities needed to be restricted until security situation gets stable again. Explaining reasons for those changes would be mere speculation. Media frequently coin it like ”spring/summer offensive“, the capture of Osama bin Laden could be another reason or it could be a reaction by insurgencies to the unstoppable progress and development of the Logar Province. Introduction of the COIN strategy also brought about a  fundamental change in the way ISAF forces operate. The strategy emphasises developing links with local population and winning their hearts and minds. In reality, ISAF troops dismounted from their safe up-armoured vehicles and literally set out to the streets among people. The COIN strategy was also immediately applied in operations by the Logar Provincial Reconstruction Team. Another major step forward was a substantially larger involvement in coalition operations going on in their area. The Czech forces have already collaborated with their U.S. colleagues on various levels and in various fields. In recent months however, they have regularly taken part in longterm operations that have a  single goal:

Setting out to streets

to improve the security situation in the region. ”It  could seem at the first sight that such type of operations does not have anything in common with the development efforts by the Czech contingent, but the contrary is true,“ the commander of Czech PRT Colonel Hlaváč explains. ”Development in the province and the associated projects go hand in hand with the security situation,“ Colonel Hlaváč elaborates. “We could sit and wait until our coalition partners and Afghani national security forces prepare conditions for our development effort, but it is substantially more effective to join the operations,“ Colonel Hlaváč elaborates. Over the past four months, several crucial operations took place the Czech military professionals were involved in. The Czech troops have operated in the Logar Province’s district centre, the city of Pol-e Alam, for quite some time. The operation is named aptly Lion’s Cave. About two dozen Czech servicepeople are stationed



more or less acted as mentors for the Afghani Army, for whom it was the first time to show up in the area. Security situation in the Azra district is somewhat different to other districts and there is no Afghani National Army unit permanently stationed there. It is fair to say that locals live in a sort of ”security bubble” there. Although they are not faced with continuous pressure by insurgent groups, their access to the central Logar province and to the neighbouring province of Nanganhar is blocked. ”Some inhabitants have confirmed to us they have not left their village in Azra district for several years already,“ FirstLieutenant Tomáš N. said upon taking a part in the operation in the district. ”Many of them have practically never ever seen an Afghani National Army or an ISAF member,“ Tomáš N. adds. Permanent ANA presence was one of the requirements voiced by the local inhabitants in the Shura. ”There are groups operating here to menace us or steal our crops,“ an inhabitant of Babar village told the Czech troops. ”We cannot reach Pol-e Alam, because the only access route is often blocked by illegal checkpoints. In case they halt us, they want our goods that we could sell in the town, or they want money,“ the local man elaborates. Those armed gangs that threaten people living in the Azra district are not primarily committed to promote ideas and political goals of the Taleban and the like organisation, but they very much stand in the way of economic development in the province. have been involved in, or the number of accomplished projects, are just figures in statistics. The same applies to the quantity of security incidents that occurred during this deployment in Afghanistan. The Azra district is an area where incident rate is continuously deep below the average for the Logar province. ”In case coalition and Afghani forces focus their activities into an area, it usually changes the stats there,“ commander of the 7th  PRT deployment, Colonel Hlaváč, comments. “Every action solicits a reaction and only time will tell whether these activities produce the desired effect,“ Colonel Hlaváč says. According to official information, the process of transitioning into the hands of the local security forces is to begin in 2011 already. While the Logar province is not included in the first wave of the process, it will definitely happen over the next two years. ISAF forces, including the Czech service personnel, are doing their best to achieve that and the involvement in such operations clearly supports the process.

In touch with locals

in turns at a  base built on the premises of the Provincial Government’s multipurpose centre and go out for foot patrols in the city several times a  day. Civilian experts serving with the Czech contingent are stationed on the minibase too. The patrol teams also comprise member of the Afghani National Army and Afghani National Police plus there are U.S. service personnel who are permanently stationed there as well. The goal of that measure is obvious: to enhance security in the area through permanent presence of both coalition and Afghani forces in the city. Longterm stationing at the base in Pol-e Alam also facilitates the Czech unit’s operation as it realises even two dozen patrols a week. “There is a limit to our capacity. We have to support the activities by civilian experts, CivilMilitary Cooperation specialists, but also dayto-day activities for the unit, such as regular shooting practice, logistic convoys, operations by EOD or QRT (Quick Reaction Team) in case of emergencies,“ the unit commander explains. ”When we have our warriors posted directly in Pol-e Alam, it is substantially easier to transfer civilian experts into the district centre and support their activities from there.“

Psychology playing a role

Immensely important is also a psychological effect that this type of patrolling has on the local population. ”Everybody feels much more comfortable seeing an individual soldier, although with body armour and a  weapon, than a  huge convoy of armoured vehicles,“ head of CIMIC team First-Lieutenant Tomáš N. elaborates. Service personnel and civilian experts visit a number of authorities and institutions and cover several miles walking every day. ”Each of our patrols is joined by a  horde of kids. They have always joined us a  couple of steps behind the gate and accompanied us all the way,“ CIMIC specialist Jan K. describes. “Soldiers always have in their pockets some pens and pencils they can give to kids. In addition, kids are curious in Afghanistan as well and soldiers are attractive for them, same as for

kids in the Czech Republic,“ he comments. ”On one of the patrols, a twelve-year-old boy riding a  bicycle joined me. We started chatting. First Czech or English and he spoke Dari. An interpreter joined us in a moment and we could talk daily life. What school he attends, what his parents do, what his plans are for the future. Such contact is extremely important for us. It helps us develop a true picture of the situation in the area and the problems locals face,“ Jan K. says. That children have joined the patrol has one more important effect. It is a proof positive that there is no danger at that moment for anybody, neither for soldiers. Information on any type of threat spreads like an avalanche among the locals and empty streets or closed shops are a  clear sign that something is wrong. Besides authorities and institutions, Czech service personnel always set out to the local marketplace. Not to buy gifts, but to select materiel for quick impact projects. ”We may choose the way we will realise the projects. Normally we invite several businessmen to the base, we present our requirements and they develop bids in a  few days. We select the best one among those bids and seal the contract with the dealer,“ a CIMIC project manager, Master-Sergeant Peter K, says. ”The other option is to go to the local marketplace, find out about the offer, haggle the price, and make the deal on spot,“ MSG Peter K explains. This way of project realisation has multiple positive effects. First is the project itself, helping the locals, second it supports local economy and last but not least we show to people that the funds we invest into projects stay in Logar and that we count on their support and cooperation.

Mapping out security situation

Additional two crucial operations, that took place recently, were operation Baraki Bahar in the Baraki Barak district and operation Thunder Spring in Mohammad Agha district. Their goal was to stabilise security there. Jordanian forces

and the Afghani National Army members have joined those operations shoulder-to-shoulder with US and Czech warfighters. Coalition and Afghani forces have jointly operated in areas where security situation is not entirely stable or are used as a hideout for criminals or insurgents and for weapons caches. ”The very presence of soldiers in the area immediately affects security,“ officers having commanded those operations concur. Insurgencies must naturally respond to increased movement of coalition forces at once. They are often forced to abandon the area for some time but it takes time for them to re-establish contacts and bases essential for their operations. ”It is a progress in small steps, but it is progress,“ the commander US Task Force Patriot, Colonel Antonia, assures. Coalition forces also focused on Azra district in June timeframe. This area in the north-east of Logar is hardly accessible with vehicles and in a  way detached from the province geographically. Therefore, coalition forces operate there on a  minimal scale and the Afghani National Army’s presence is limited too. All security in the Azra district area is in the hands of Afghani National Police. Czech troops operated in Azra namely in 2009, when they were out to make sure presidential elections take place smoothly. The Azra district had the highest elections turnover and the lowest occurrence of security incidents that would disturb the elections. To an extent, that was definitely facilitated by the presence of Czech soldiers. The Czechs have visited the Azra district a couple of times in the past, but it was never a regular or intensive posting. Operation Azra Spring was designed to map out security situation in the district and figure out what new projects the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team could contribute to. Attendance of the local Shura, a consultation meeting with elders from communities in the area, is a regular part of such operations. Czech and coalition forces together with Afghani National Army personnel visited four villages in the district in five days. ISAF soldiers

All the operations have had one common goal: to get as closer as possible and penetrate the local population. Development and security go hand in hand and support by the locals preconditions successful endeavour by both ISAF and the Afghani National Security Forces. Warriors are able in everyday contacts to obtain information that would otherwise remain undisclosed to them. A  friendly handshake, invitation for a  cup of tea, or even to a  lunch is what commonly marks all patrols. ”It naturally happens that we are not completely welcome in the villages and the locals express that by stones hitting our vehicles from time to time,“ says the force protection company commander, First-Lieutenant Jiří P.  ”On the other hand, we also had a  moment when villagers welcomed us with flowers,“ he says smiling. The 7th deployment of the Logar Provincial Reconstruction Team still have several weeks to go before they hand over, so it is too early to review or assess. Moreover, quantity of patrols, operations they

by CAPT Lada Kovářová Photos by Warrant Officer Daniel Hlaváč



Lenka Dvořáková had helped save life even before she arrived to Afghanistan

Frontline Medics
A coach of the Hranice-based unit carried the servicepeople forming the new contingent of the Provincial Reconstruction Team on a highway towards Prague Kbely, a Czech Air Force Base. It seemed like most of the soldiers were asleep, but their future expectation did not allow them. They were thinking about what they will be up to in Afghanistan, what the upcoming weeks hold for them.
“I caught a glimpse trough the coach window of two individuals standing at the guardrail. It looked strange to me; I thought what they were doing there. But then I  saw a  crashed car and a wounded driver inside,“ Sergeant First Class Lenka Dvořáková recalls. “We immediately halted the coach; I grabbed my medical kit and ran to the car. The man was truly stuck in the seat; we could not get him out. So I  decided to stabilise him where he was. I was assisted by lads from our units; they had the combat live saver course. A  civilian fire-fighter appeared in the scene too. The injured man changed the colour of his face, his breathing started to fail. Blood was running out of his mouth. It was critical in these circumstances that I leaned his head backwards and freed airways that way. The rest was up to ambulance personnel who just arrived.“ Lenka Dvořáková only learned later that the driver had a  microsleep and hit a  van with his car. He suffered internal bleeding. It was only good that they did not move him. ”When you help someone that way, help save someone’s life, it is an incredibly good feeling. It would never occur to me that I could get into anything like that. It felt like an omen: we were just about to depart for our tour in Afghanistan. I told myself whether that was not a kind premonition.“ beginning. Not because she would not be able shrug off the sort of rough jokes, but to try and prove to lads that she belonged among them, that she was able to perform to same standards. Her colleagues say she truly managed. Presently she pursues a  bachelor study program, but that is not the end for her: she would like to go on for a master’s degree. Every new piece of information is said to be invaluable for medical personnel. Lenka Dvořáková was not afraid to go towards her destiny in Afghanistan either. Together with medical doctor Major Radek Uher, they were among the medics who most frequently went for patrols off base. ”I offered to our lads that if they went for an extended ride and security assessments would tell there could be problems with Medevac helicopters, I would join them. In case something happened an hour’s ride from the base and there was no helicopter available, I would help them on spot,“ Major Uher explains. ”We seek to a have a combat life saver qualified soldier in every vehicle. The Czech military has made a  quantum leap forward in recent years. These lads are able to stop bleeding, provide for basic life functions and prepare the wounded for transportation. But if they were to care for the casualty say for two hours, they could get into trouble. When they encounter a warfighter with burns for example, who bleeds heavily in addition, it may arouse certain stress with them. It is critical to have the procedures drilled under your skin. People who have not been through something like that tend to freeze at first. It is vital to give such persons a kick, to shout at them for instance. Once they get started, it suddenly all comes back to them what to do. Everything gets running by itself.“ According to SFC Dvořáková, it is not conceivable to think whether patrols entail a higher risk than staying at Camp Shank. “It does not really matter whether you encounter a rocket at Camp Shank or you hit an IED on patrol. If people pondered it, they would have to go crazy,“ she adds.

professionals. ”They assigned me to a  trauma team as a  volunteer. It is a  team that provides care to acute cases as they are brought in. Their mission is to provide initial examination and stabilise patients. Basic diagnosing is performed and next steps determined,“ Major Uher describes. ”The regular day-to-day care is similar to what we have. But it is naturally more challenging here from epidemiology viewpoint. It is quite dusty on the base, plus there is a  lack of water and other means which entails lower standards of hygiene in Afghanistan at large. The higher priority hygiene receives on the base. American measures are very strict in this regard. All soldiers must wash their hands not only in the washroom but also prior to meals.“ The most enticing part of the US military medical support is the medical evacuation system, which is very sophisticated: qualified personnel and helicrews are always available on standby alert. Once the alarm goes, they start off immediately. The Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, too, has personnel specialising in medevac in the military medical service, Czech pilots are also able to fly medevac missions, but the US medevac system is something we may only look up to for the time being. Together with the Americans, Czech medics organised a combat medical first responder course. They also prepared a  session in which the

Lenka Dvořáková initially applied for admission to a  police school. She was not enrolled, and so she started studying the secondary medical school. After A-level exams she continued studies at a  higher professional school, also in general nurse program. Working in the General Faculty Hospital in Olomouc was however not up to her expectations; she decided to change to the military medical service. She felt attracted by field hospitals and missions abroad. But no vacant post was available for her, so she eventually got the post of a military medic with a company of the mechanised battalion in Hranice. To prove well in a purely masculine and moreover military environment was rather difficult at the

Medical procedures drilled too

to be a military pilot. But the Military Academy in Brno did not open a  pilot program in 2000. So he decided for the medical profession. There was extensive media coverage of foreign missions at that time, which largely shaped his choice. He had a chance to go for a twelve-month internship in Germany already during studies. That was an excellent experience that pushed his personal development forward substantially. After completing the Military Academy, he began working at the Central Military Hospital in Prague at the anaesthetic-resuscitation ward. They had state-of-the-art equipment there. Junior medical doctors are said not to be capable of doing everything at the start. They very much attended to him there. In 2008, he served two tours with a field hospital in Kabul. ”It was my first deployment. That is a big experience for everybody, an outstanding lesson. One does not encounter war injuries in Czech hospitals. We had for treatment a  member of President Karzai’s family. The Canadian Embassy expressed their gratitude to us for saving a Canadian Colonel. They held us in quite a high esteem there,“ Major Uher smiles. In addition to that, his practical experience in Afghanistan earned him a new posting in the Czech Republic. He was assigned to a field hospital and practically served at the Military Hospital in Olomouc.

Just four doctors

Doctor instead of pilot

Major Uher became a  military medical doctor rather by coincidence. He initially wanted

Service of Czech medical personnel at Camp Shank in Logar very much differs from what they are used to do back in the Czech Republic. Specialist examination and limited availability of equipment also restricts them. For diagnosing,

doctors must primarily rely on themselves and their experience. There is also an increased risk of traumatic injuries. The U.S. Role 2 medical facility in eastern part of Camp Shank, where Czech medics work, is apparently smaller and worse equipped than the Czech one. It comprises only four doctors; the others are assistants and nurses of various classes. Its organisational structure is much more ramified than ours are. Besides doctors, there are various assistants, registered nurses, general nurses etc. “Their nurses have much broader authorisation and also responsibility. In

our environment, the nurse is limited by what the doc prescribes, whereas here they work more autonomously. They often prescribe alone. At the same time, some of them have lower education than we do,“ SFC Dvořáková explains. ”I  am not sure something like that would be attractive to me. The broader the authorisation, the bigger the responsibility. I  would probably fear that.“ Americans were rather suspicious at the outset. They watched for how the Czech medical perform. But quite quickly they arrived at the conclusion that the Czechs were true

trainees had a chance to practise communication with MEDEVAC aircrews. During our stay in Afghanistan, we had a  chance to see Major Uher not only in hospital, but at a  shooting range as well, practising live fire with several weapons. Asked whether military medical personnel are also soldiers, he replies. “Absolutely. If the situation gets really dramatic, some sort of engagement, I am ready to assist with a weapon,“ he concluded.
by Vladimír Marek



Support Forces of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic underwent a test in providing comprehensive logistic and medical support to NATO forces named Boleslavská hradba (Boleslav Rampart)
trucks and special wheeled vehicles and a multirole W-3A Sokol helicopter.

Container terminal

Sixteen proofs of professionalism

Sixteen – that was the quantity of installations for personnel on the exercise to prove their preparedness in the final VIP day. The presentation was attended by Deputy Chief of General Staff Czech Armed Forces – Inspector General Major-General František Malenínský, the Support and Joint Forces high command officials, commanders and chiefs of military units involved and representatives of U.S., German, Hungarian, Croatian and Lithuanian armed forces. Describing individual demonstrations and model situations that may turn real would no doubt make a dedicated publication. Therefore, from among individual operations – from loading vehicles on rail cars, unloading pallets to taking materiel into stock from a road transport and maintenance in field and stationary shops to casualty treatment, including their evacuation by air – we will just cover some this time.

A couple of minutes past 10 a.m. a rail transport arrives carrying four containers. “The containers carry stock of materiel for National Support Elements (NSE) of the United Kingdom and the United States that will be unloaded here and then transferred into the depot of the Nondisposable Materiel Base Štěpánov,“ LieutenantColonel Alexandr Man of the Czech Armed Forces Support Force Command in Stará Boleslav specifies and goes on to say that four type ISO 1C ANCRA and ISO 1C NDR containers carry the total of twenty-eight tons of construction and fortification materiel. Unloading and stacking containers into assigned sections does not require dozens of specialists and assets. There is less than a handful of operators and just two vehicles –Linde reach stacker vehicle and AD-20 crane truck with handling A frame. The job is done in several dozen minutes. “This terminal’s total capacity is 141 containers,“ LTC Man says and adds: “The depot personnel are able to handle around fifteen containers an hour subject to space currently

Exercise Boleslavská hradba
The effort by two security guards with dogs to stop the crowd with headcount of about thirty comes in vain. Contrarily, their appeasing attempt makes the atmosphere ever dense and the crowd grows increasingly aggressive. Meter by meter, the crowd are approaching the Czech Armed Forces logistic base. Obviously, they are not very interested in hearing any explanations by the commanding officers. The situation is getting critical. Military response forces need to be ordered to the place. Which is what happens in a couple of minutes. Personnel in crowd control gear cordon the entry off. ”Citizens, this is Military Police. We ask you to leave this place,“ the response commander announces. The protesters however show no reaction to his appeal. Another call follows. ”Citizens, if you do  not abandon your illegal conduct coercive means will be employed.“ No reaction solicits suppression of the protest. A  group of bewildered rioters is progressively pushed to safe distance. The first demonstration for experts at the Boleslavská hradba 2011 command post exercise has just come to a head. This is by no means a  complete fiction, but an occurrence that the Czech Armed Forces service personnel may be confronted with on receiving NATO forces in our territory, which would happened in a conflict. In such situation, the Czech Armed Forces would have to provide a  comprehensive logistic and medical support to the NATO partner forces according to its commitments to NATO. In other words, providing assistance to NATO forces as a part of Host Nation Support (HNS) is one of the highest political-military ambitions the Czech Republic has. Boleslavská hradba 2011 at Štěpánov u  Olomouce. At the beginning of the exercise, Brigadier Pavel Rybák gave a briefing on the current security situation in the area of interest and the mission he was tasked to perform by the Chief of General Staff Czech Armed Forces. The process commenced afterwards of planning according to relevant NATO standards and development of necessary documents for commanding a  logistic operation. The commanders of subordinate units and installations were tasked in the form of preliminary orders. The staffs worked in twelve-hour shifts as nearly five hundred members of the Support Forces rotated in staff posts, not only in Stará Boleslav, but also in other bases and installations across the Czech Republic. ”Objectives of the staff exercise were met: the Czech Support Forces made an immense progress in their capability to deliver HNS. It is our mandatory duty to provide assistance to partner nations. Nevertheless, we have completed just the first

The tension in front of the Non-disposable Materiel Base at Štěpánov is growing intense. At the main gate, where coalition forces’ trucks are to appear in a moment, a crowd of rioting citizens gather. They came to express their disapproval of the assistance provided to NATO forces. They shout, whistle, hurl plastic bottles with water …
step by realising the rehearsal successfully. The substantially more important will be the second one, the command post and field training exercise on September 5-8, 2011, at the Non-disposable Materiel Base in Štěpánov,“ former Czech Support Forces Commander Brigadier Jaroslav Kocián said on conclusion of the exercise. The principal goal of this year’s Boleslavská Hradba exercise organised as a  culmination of training activities of the Czech Support Forces in 2011 was: to improve the forces’ capability to provide a  comprehensive logistic and medical support to NATO forces deployed for operations in a conflict zone. The Materiel Base in Štěpánov was selected as a  place to build the logistic support base. Roughly two hundred service personnel from eleven Support Forces units and installations as well as from Joint Force establishments, Military Police and the Active Reserve component were involved in the exercise. Equipment used comprised approximately fifty

The training was followed by a field training exercise

A three day comprehensive staff exercise for the Support Forces of the Czech Armed Forces in Stará Boleslav in May was a  prologue to the four-day September exercise called the



“Twenty-nine components subordinate to us have been abolished over the last decade,“ he states.

A Grades all the way

available and access to the train. Containers may be stacked up to three layers high.“ The operators are obviously highly professional. As well, the Linde vehicle displays an incredible agility handling containers like matchboxes, as it has adequate performance parameters: lift capacity on the front fork is up to 32 tons and height up to seven metres. The next place showing a demonstration of accepting materiel is Hall 54. Following orders by depot controller, two trucks with materiel for the U.S. NSE pull in. Drivers and warehouse specialists drive out S-1000 pallets using electric forklift trucks and hand pallet trolleys. “The US National Support Element materiel gets transferred into the hall, checked visually, registered by affixing bar codes and assigned a  place for storage,“ Major Jiří Kudláček of the Support Command explains and describes activities taking place following acceptance, as the materiel is placed in its zone by forklifts. There are four (A, B, C, D) zones divided with independently closing fire separation gates for safety and security. Two MXX forklifts and

Skyjack aerial platform provide materiel handling there. Capacity of Hall 54 arouses respect even with specialists. Materiel can be stored in 39 lines and 43 columns in 8 layers. The total capacity amounts to 11,613 cubic meters. Just for imagination: it is 10,976 units of S-1000 pallets. Demonstrations at individual posts show both a high professionalism of service personnel and defence civilians but mainly a  broad range of highly specialist operations. Would the depot personnel be able to handle such a portion, moreover in a combat situation? “Yes, our base is ready to provide required assistance to NATO nations’ forces both in terms of manpower and equipment. Today we have verified that it is really the case. The fact that our personnel deliver to high professionals standards results from their everyday training,“ the commander of the Non-disposable Materiel Base Colonel Jozef Galla underscores and points out that all specific capabilities of the depot base were preserved despite major reductions in its organisation that took place.

Initial assessments of the largest command post exercise for the Support Forces are mostly positive. “Over the past three-year training cycle, the Support Forces have made an immense leap forward. They have progressed from the simple to the complex and the outcome is highly appreciable. Individual demonstrations proved the Support Forces are ready to provide assistance to NATO nations’ forces to required standards,“ said Major-General František Malenínský, Vice-CHOD and Inspector General of the Czech Armed Forces, and said he was the more pleased that officials from other NATO nation’s armed forces and the NAMSA agency also witnessed the Boleslavská hradba 2011 exercise. ”Their comments that demonstrations were highly valuable for them is the greatest accolade for all personnel involved in the exercise. In the field of logistic and medical support, the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic attained certain quality standards that should be maintained down the road,“ General Malenínský added. The Support Forces Commander and Exercise Director, Brigadier Ján Gurník, was also obviously in good mood at the end of the exercise. “No doubt we are ready to support NATO forces. The servicepeople have performed to high professional standards. Their professionalism optimally complemented with the use of appropriate equipment. Providing host nation support duties comprehensively is a  challenging assignment. In reality it is a  highly complex operation the backstage of which is only apparent to insiders. I am proud we have performed one-hundred percent despite certain restrictions the Czech Support Forces has had to face,“ Brigadier Gurník opined and added: “My service career has so far been connected primarily with command posts. Three years ago, too, I finished my assignment as the Deputy Joint Force Commander – Land Forces Commander and was posted abroad. Logistic support became one of my primary responsibilities only when I was at NATO command HQs. And I soon changed my perspective on that service. Before that, I only requested this or that type of comprehensive support and it was all over for me in reality. The loggies have always provided it and I did not have to care much. My service assignments later on enabled me to see what happens behind the scenes of this or that type of support, what sort of effort is necessary to make the support effective and meet the needs of those supported, and what multitude of most diverse factors enter the play. Therefore, I  would have a  recommendation that every commander, starting with platoon leaders would personally serve at least in one logistics-related posting.“

The Boletice training area saw close air support procedures drilled as part of Exercise Domestic CAS 2011

Cleared Hot!
Belgian FAC or Forward Air Controller from the U.S. Air Ground Operations School (AGOS) in the Federal Republic of Germany is controlling a Czech Air Force L-159 ALCA subsonic combat aircraft and Mi-24/35 gunship of the Czech Air Force onto a target in the Boletice Military Training Area. This was one of the spectacles that the September interoperability exercise Domestic CAS 2011 offered.
One-five-niners from Čáslav and Hinds from Náměšť assaulted enemy targets in the Boletice training area for four days in September. Despite their hits – using the twin 20mm gun in the PL-20 Plamen pod and CRV-7 rockets, as well as live fire from 50 calibre 9A624 quad machine gun housed in remote controlled USPU-24 front gun mount – were very exact, the aircrews in aircraft cockpits did not play the main role this time, but the “invisible“ forward air controllers (FAC) on the ground. They were the students of the United States Air Force in Europe Air Ground Operations School (USAFE AGOS) with home station in Germany. It is no secret that the FAC qualification and refresher training on close air support (CAS) procedures day and night also includes Czech FACs, specifically from the 22nd AFB in Náměšť nad Oslavou. “Forward Air Controllers and aircrews have been drilling CAS procedures here,“ the Domestic CAS 2011 exercise director, LieutenantColonel Karel Valvoda, specifies the exercise objectives and goes on to say that besides this training priority, the exercise practices procedures for helicopters operating from a  forward post and harmonisation of procedures that GBAD specialists use. ”The total of 187 personnel from Čáslav AFB and Náměšť AFB

by Pavel Lang Photos by Jan Kouba

and the 25th Ground Based Air Defence Brigade in Strakonice have been involved. Attendees include representatives of USAFE AGOS and HQ Allied Air Command Ramstein,“ LTC Valvoda elaborated. Commanders of the units involved provide additional information. ”We have had cooperation with the Air Ground Operations School for three years now. The 212th Tactical Squadron in Čáslav, equipped with L-159 aircraft, has planned 200 flight hours over six weeks for AGOS in this year,“ Deputy Commander 21st AFB in Čáslav Colonel Ondřej Rejman says and praises the collaboration: ”The L-159 pilot training includes performance of CAS missions. Complemented with FAC controlling, the whole mission is much more effective. We perform two roles that way in one sortie.“ According to COL Rejman, collaboration may be further enhanced, for instance by stationing four Czech L-159s temporarily at Spangdahlen airbase in Germany, from where they could fly missions into Hohenfels training centre with live ammunition. Lieutenant-Colonel Miroslav Svoboda of the 22nd AFB Náměšť nad  Oslavou also speaks highly of cooperation with AGOS and specifies that they supported training for his students – the FACs – with L-39 ZA trainer jets and this year with Mi-24/35 gunships. “The forward air controller specialism has had a  ten-year tradition at our airbase. Initial assistance on training the first Czech FACs was offered to us by colleagues from the United Kingdom and the United States, who have combat operational experience and provided training opportunities for us in their training centers,“ says the deputy commander of Náměšť AFB, whose structure also includes the FAC company as a component of the 225th Combat Support Battalion.



the U.S. but to all NATO nations that send their servicepeople into the prestigious school. To increase the quality and quantity of forward air controllers available in NATO is a high priority at present. Those specialisms are in demand in coalition operation ISAF in the territory of Afghanistan. “FAC is a very narrow specialism providing unique and critical capability needed by the Czech as well as coalition forces as they perform operational assignments in Afghanistan. The Czech Armed Forces presently has about two dozen forward air controllers,“ says the Chief of General Staff Czech Armed Forces General Vlastimil Picek and adds: “Personally I  would appreciate our FAC unit having a  higher headcount, but funding we have been allocated restricts us. We therefore have no plans down the line to massively expand the unit. Our priority will be to have as many combat-ready certified Czech FAC personnel as possible.“ At the same time, General Picek commended Czech FACs for their top-class preparedness. The fact that Czech forward air controllers have managed to win respect among their international partners over a very short period of time, was valued by the representative AGOS, U.S. Lieutenant-Colonel Craig McCarty, who commended their abilities and professionalism. It should be noted in this respect that the first FAC team was established at Náměšť AFB in August 2001 and a premiere deployment of Czech FACs for operations in Afghanistan took place five years later. Since then, they have enjoyed a  solid position in the Czech Armed Forces operating in the region (there are four Czech FACs currently deployed in Afghanistan). Czech FACs were also assigned to a European Union Battle Group (EU BG) in 2009. FACs are not the ones responsible for target elimination, but a facilitating element. The final players are always the pilots. FACs only guide their eyes on the ground. “A FAC identifies the target for us and provides flight bearing towards it. He tunes into the perspective we have from the cockpit and describes landmarks we could possibly to see from our position,“ Mi-24/35 helicopter pilot CAPT F. M. says and underscores there must a  absolute agreement on both sides in the final stage over correctness of the target choice. “There are cases that we do not agree on a target. The mission is aborted and the procedure repeats,“ the 22nd AFB pilot explains. FACs may also get rejected when the pilot elects a  tactically more suitable option. However, pilots may never compromise limitations given by the air controller. Contrarily, in case conditions and circumstances change in the area of interest, the FAC recommends that pilot stopped the attack. In reality, it is not just about controlling onto the target and its elimination, but also about the trust in abilities of the other guy. “Cleared hot,“ the captain of Mi-24 gunship hears from a  FAC. In seconds, its quad gun rattles with the first burst. Fire at the target, this time a  formation of APCs, repeats two times more. ALCA aircraft gets into a  action of couple of moments later. Joint employment of the L-159 light combat aircraft and a Mi-24/35 helicopter to engage a  single target is not an occurrence that frequent in the domestic training areas. ”The interesting part is that it is for the first time here. Situations involving joint operation of multiple aircraft at different flight levels and with different capabilities are rather normal in foreign deployments. We are beefing up FAC training that way. A FAC is responsible for his air column, where he has multiple air assets. We practice a method that helps FACs gain valuable experience to expand their qualification,“ one of the exercise directing staff officers says.

Mistakes possibly fatal

The exercise also involved operations by GBAD forces from Strakonice, whose antiaircraft batteries equipped with S-10MD and RBS-70 air defence systems, and fire control and command support teams with P-19 and SURN CZ radars operated from the Boletice and Čáslav area. “Our tactical scenario encompassed air defence of the Čáslav AFB and barring final attacks cones for assaulting aircraft. It is highly valuable for us to practice fire control using real targets,“ commander of the 252nd SAM battalion Lieutenant-Colonel Jaroslav Daverný elaborates. To complete the picture: Exercise Domestic CAS 2011 was authorised by the Parliament of the Czech Republic and was played according to specific requirements of AGOS. As a matter of fact, AGOS does not train only in the Czech territory but also in training areas of the armed forces of France, Italy, Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom. Stundents at AGOS have available a  broad spectrum of aircraft, which is obviously another benefit. Military professionals successfully completing AGOS training may control various types of machines involved in combat operations – from bombers, to unmanned aerial vehicles and fighters. The training program is planned to cover a specific scope of flight effort. The Czech Republic is involved not only by providing the L-159 ALCA aircraft and Mi-24/35 helicopters, but also by assigning an instructor to AGOS to help expand training capacity. In this regard, the Czech Republic provides assistance not only to

Collaboration with ground manoeuvre units and effective control over close air support in joint operations – those are in nutshell the most important responsibilities FACs have. Their effort must build on an in-depth familiarity with procedures and specialist knowledge in an English-speaking environment. ”I have been downrange in Afghanistan twice for several months. I have had aircraft over my head for about thirty times. I controlled Allied machines from A-10s to F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighters to helicopter gunships operated in the inventory of multiple NATO nations’ armed forces,“ a Czech forward air controllers 1LT T. Z. describes and underscores that FACs may critically shape the situation in the battlefield, for example in the sense of making it as effective and safe for friendly forces as possible. “FACs must be in control of fair traffic in his area of interest. No way for the use of weapon systems to be authorised on a fixed-wing or rotary wing aircraft without making sure the pilot and the people on the ground are on the safe side. Also, collateral damage to civilian property is not acceptable,“ 1LT T. Z. elaborates and points out that despite danger of being close to the enemy and under time pressure, the course of action FACs take must always be straightforward and well considered. Wrong are those saying that FACs are always be in proximity of potential targets, as they are able to use state-ofthe-art technology, including digital devices. “It is not rare for FACs to control aircraft without having visual contact with the enemy target. That can be done using other methods that provide us with a detailed picture of what is going in the area of interest,“ 1LT T.Z. argues. In practice, forward air controllers mostly operate using voice. They have available relevant connectivity, both with the ground commander and the aircraft pilot. At the same time,

VIP guests controlled by an Mi-24

The importance of Domestic CAS 2011 was evinced by the presence of the Czech Armed Forces top officials. On Monday September 21, 2011, the exercise was attended by the Chief of General Staff General Vlastimil Picek, Vice-CHOD – Chief of Staff Major-General Petr Pavel, MoD Force Development – Operations Division Director Brigadier Bohuslav Dvořák and unit commanders to gain familiarity with the exercise and its objectives. Following the introductory briefing, even the guests became directly involved in a simulated situation based on lessons learnt in Afghanistan, when their convoy requested close air support to avoid being ambushed and assaulted. Then an Mi-24/35 helicopter field replenishing demonstration was held in the Kovářovice area, including refuelling and rearming. The display also includes a tour of the BASA III L mobile air control post. Much more action could be seen at OP or Observation Point Ondřejov in the form of CAS procedures orchestrated by forward air controllers and Czech Air Force aircraft.
by Pavel Lang



Medical service
During the twenty years of its existence, the Military Air Rescue Service has transported as many patients as towns such as Čelákovice, Veselí nad Moravou, Velké Meziříčí or Uničov have inhabitants.

Krystof 07 Inbound to Help
The score after twenty years of existence? Eleven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven! This is the number of patients who have faced an imminent life threat and who have been selflessly helped by doctors and medical personnel of the Air Rescue Service Center in Líně, off Plzeň. At the same time, helicopter crews of the 24th Air Force Base in Kbely have clocked close to 10,000 flying hours carrying them.
The general public recently commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the Air Rescue Service Center (ARSC) in Líně, a  small, but immensely important segment of the military medical support system, which is also a part of the Integrated Rescue System. People in extremely exigent circumstances, including civilians living in the regions of Plzeň and Karlovy Vary, but also professional soldiers of the Czech Armed Forces deployed in foreign missions thousands of kilometers from home, rely on its fast and correct help. Recent statistical data is more than convincing. In 2009 and 2010, the numbers of sorties performed by the ARSC was 521 and 502, respectively, most of them being so-called “primary flights” the purpose of which was to provide urgent medical care in the field. The numbers of so-called stratevac (Strategic Evacuation – transports of casualties and sick soldiers from abroad) operations mounted by the ARSC in Líně in 2008, 2009 and 2010 were 5, 6 and 3, respectively, and nine such flights have so far taken place in 2011. It is no secret that their most frequent destinations are the Afghan airports of Kabul and Bagram.

Sophisticated monitoring instruments instead of a briefcase
The Military Air Rescue Service (MARS, in Czech acronymized as LZS) in Líně was established by an order of Luboš Dobrovský, the then Minister of Defense, as a  segment of the Command and Reconnaissance Squadron of the 1st Army, the commander of which was Lieutenant Colonel Jiří Šašek. “Initially, primary and secondary sorties were performed using an Mi-2 helicopter,” is how Colonel MUDr.  Michal Mareček, Chief of the Air Rescue Service

Center recalls the year 1991, adding that the first aircraft, whose fuselage number was 4541, was repainted yellow on that occasion. “Doctors and nurses, of whom there were less than fingers on one hand, had just one briefcase with medical supplies,” says Colonel Mareček. Mi-17 helicopters of the Air Search and Rescue System (SAR) were added to the fleet later. Since 1993, air rescuers from Líně have been using the “Kryštof 07” call sign. Significant technical progress comes with the fielding of new Polish multi-purpose W-3A Sokol helicopters. The aircraft which is probably best known to the media is the red-and-white “0719” helicopter, which has been painted in this conspicuous livery for SAR and ARS missions, and been carrying it since July 2007, when it underwent a complete overhaul at the manufacturing plant in Poland, having previously clocked 3,000 flying hours. Although the statistics of ARS interventions were showing a clearly positive and improving trend in terms of saved human lives, some leading representatives of the government decided to terminate the operation of the Military Air Rescue Service and Search and Rescue Center in Líně in 1997. “Basically the execution of the Military Air Rescue Service because of an unwise political decision of two ministers, that’s what it was,” is how the ARSC Chief characterizes the verdict. In less than a year, precisely on May 1, 1998, succeeding an unsuccessful private air rescue service operator, the military “air ambulances” return to their home base. The center progresses by leaps and bounds in every direction, be it aviation technology, medical equipment and instrumentation, or highly educated and trained medical and paramedical personnel. “At the moment, our ToEs include thirty people – seven surgeons, thirteen nurses and ten civilian employees, who

A perspective vs. lack of it
provide comprehensive logistic support for the ARSC operation. There is a high level of interest in jobs at our center. However, I must openly say that the professional requirements our employees have to meet are high as well. Loyalty and team spirit are placed as high as professional skills. Every person performs an irreplaceable role within our structure. A failure of an individual may prove fatal for the entire center,” states Colonel Mareček, explaining that in addition to operating round the clock, the center also maintains a two-hour stratevac readiness. “We can in fact be deployed in any crisis region of the world. It is an extraordinarily demanding mission. On the one hand, you have state-of-the-art instruments and equipment onboard the aircraft, on the other hand you are on your own. You are not backed up by a  council of erudite medical consultants who make all important decisions. The aircraft crew also cannot make an immediate landing, even if the situation demands so. Everything is only up to you. Onboard the airplane, it is you who will decide whether a seriously injured patient will live or die,” is how the experienced military surgeon describes his feelings.

The fact is that the years between 1991 and 2011 have been full of changes for the Military Air Rescue Service in Líně. However, there are two things that have remained unchanged throughout the period, the first one being flights to traffic accidents and injuries, the second one the satisfaction of heads of intensive care units and anesthesiology and resuscitation departments of hospitals with the standard of the first aid provided to victims. “The modern medical equipment onboard the Sokol multiplies the intensive care effectiveness many times. We now have surviving patients who would have been hopeless cases in the past,” relishes Colonel Mareček. However, he also warns against overrating the ARS’s capabilities. “If our rescue team is brought to an accident site in our helicopter, the public somehow always expects us to manage. But, believe me, we are not omnipotent. If someone hits a truck at hundred and twenty, there may be ten of us onboard and we still will not be able to help him,” argues the ARSC chief. In addition to representatives of local and central government authorities, the ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the operation of the Military Air Rescue Service in Líně

was also attended by guests from the Ministry of Defense and the Czech Armed Forces. “Thanks to all former and present members of the Military Air Rescue Service are entirely appropriate. Together with flying and ground support personnel of the 24th Air Force Base in Kbely, they perform in a superb and fully professional manner, which has a positive effect on their everyday primary and secondary life-saving operations,” said Brigadier General MUDr.  Pavel Zbořil, Director of the Military Medical Department of the Ministry of Defense and Chief of the Military Medical Service. The rescuers from Lině were also pleased to learn that the Czech Air Force would retain the W-3A Sokol helicopters in the years to come. “The ARSC will thus have suitable means of transport, which is an

indispensable prerequisite for running this extremely useful service. I am an optimist, so I hope there are no black clouds looming over the center’s existence,” added Brigadier Zbořil. Colonel Mareček could talk at length about the existence or non-existence of the ARSC in Líně. “For twenty years, we have been fighting for the center. I  believed the statistical data of our operations was a strong enough argument to convince anyone who might have any doubts. However, there are obviously other factors at play. I  hope nevertheless that common sense will prevail and that this specific military medical service segment will be retained.”
by Pavel Lang Photos by Jan Kouba




601st Special Forces Group in Operation ISAF

Medical Civil Affairs Patrol
The patrol’s mission is both to provide occasional basic medical care, but also to gather basic information for the unit about the demography of local inhabitants in base environs and the unit’s broader area of responsibility. Specially trained service personnel with medical qualification are equipped with basic medical materiel, medicaments and vaccines to treat acute cases on spot, vaccinate children or advise on follow-on treatment. In addition to providing the unit with a picture of the local population, age structure, social links and disease occurrence, such regular monitoring is also important in terms of facilitating closer contacts with local communities, promoting ideas and exchanging information.

Photos by 601 SFG



August 2011 saw two Czechs units on exercise at the U.S. base in Hohenfels, Germany: one in a mentoring team role, and the other played Afghanis.

No fear, just respect
A howling lamentation was heard from the entry gate. Two ”locals“ with bleeding wounds in their face and on upper extremities demanded access and medical aid. Soldiers first had to secure the area and make sure it was not an ambush or provocation. Only then it was medic’s turn to stabilise basic life functions.
A medevac helicopter was called in the meantime to transport the patients to the hospital. Two Czech and two Romanian troops carried the stretchers, representing the units that collaborated at the U.S. Joint Multinational Readiness Centre and jointly played the role of an Afghani National Army battalion. In addition to one hundred soldiers of the Czech 7th Mechanised Brigade, who were to play the role of Afghanis, fifty-four personnel of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade were on a field training exercise there from August 8-24, 2011, in the role of mentors forming the 3rd deployment the mentoring and training team. ”We came to Hohenfels to play Afghani army for the mentoring teams prepping to deploy in Afghanistan. Indeed, that is what will be up to as well. We are scheduled for deployment in the Wardak province in Afghanistan as the fourth deployment serving on the Czech Operational Mentoring ad Liaison Team starting March 30, 2012,“ says the OMLT commander and commander of the 72nd Mechanised Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Botík. ”The benefit here is that we are able to see our future job from the other side so to say. We are practising all drills and tactics we will need on the ground in Afghanistan. The primary emphasis is attached to mentoring. The point is not that we do  training substituting someone else, but rather that we led Afghani commander methodology-wise and just tell them what to do. We try and advise the unit on how the troops should conduct.“ modernisation five years later. Arab settlements, roads, viaducts were built there. Each of nearly twenty training facilities is equipped with a full TV camera system that feeds into the control centre. The cameras cover training from several angles. On after-action review, every situation can be replayed and zoomed in if necessary. Both NATO forces and candidate and partner nations send their forces for training there. The Czech service personnel had a  chance to work with Croats and Albanians for instance. “Our training in the Czech Republic is very similar to what we are doing here. But the training facilities in Hohenfels are specially built to resemble Afghani environment as much as possible. A sizeable number of role-players adds a  great value too. Our preparation is yet richer and more realistic thanks to that,“ LieutenantColonel Botík explains. ”Moreover, the training episodes are led by highly experienced U.S. instructors. They have been through tours in Operation ISAF. Many of them have been downrange specifically to gain lessons they could apply later on in this type of training. The equipment available here was used in Afghanistan as well. The multinational environment prevailing in Hohenfels is also a  great benefit. That enables both to practise specialist English and gain information from some regional commands, as the national units on training here have operated in various parts of Afghanistan. For example, we are able to learn observations from the North, and in turn we share our experience from the East of the country.“ as a better equipped centre in Afghanistan. There is a hospital here, a police station, hotel facility, and our base is in proximity, which is also important,“ First-Lieutenant Maixner describes. ”We may even discuss with the Shura here and the local Police alike. It is no problem to ask the Police for assistance. The role-players playing the Taleban also have their assignments. Their task is to make our life complicated as much as they can. People hired for that role-playing have an in-depth familiarity with habits and cultural background of the Afghanis, they behave exactly as Afghanis do. Everything is highly realistic.“ The Czech troops man towers on the base perimeter. Romanians meanwhile take defence positions at the base gate, set up roadblocks on the access road and deploy concertina wire. Everybody in the place is readying for defence, as an attack is expected. The drills like base attacks, rocket shelling or indirect fire are the ones most frequently trained at JMRC Hohenfels. ”The most up-to-date novelties are introduced into training to keep it current. If some deployed to Afghanistan with the same tactics all the time, they would definitely have problems. We have to review it all the

Drinking tea as part of training

Multinational Training Centre

The Hohenfels training area was established shortly before World War II. The Americans have used since 1945. It was the second largest training installation they had available in Europe. In 2005, the training area was transformed into what is called the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) and it underwent extensive

Soldiers finally load the casualty into the helicopter. A US instructor standing close by takes a  note that it all took too long. Another piece that the Czech military professionals rehearse at Hohenfels is foot patrolling in the Daman community and discussions with the Shura. The discussion is led by First-Lieutenant Miroslav Maixner, who plays the role of an Afghani Company Commander here. Together with his Romanian colleague and interpreter, they get seated on a  carpet on the ground. The deliberation starts with a whole series of courtesy phrases. Nothing can be skipped, it is also important to accept the refreshments offered. ”This village is conceived




time, adjust it to cater for the procedure opposing forces use,“ LTC Botík explains. ”Warriors must be highly flexible, ready for any situation. We seek to enhance techniques and tactics in various ways. We pay a  high attention to improvised explosive devices. We search for them thoroughly; the troops proceed along the road very carefully. And we are changing formations all the time.“

Shadow soldiers

Other Czech servicepeople are training at Hohenfels several hundred metres away. It is the 3rd deployment the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team slated to take over its operational assignment in the Wardak Province, Afghanistan, in autumn 2011. It is primarily formed by the personnel of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, specifically the 41st Mechanised Battalion. ”We have already completed the national preparation. Now we are here to do the second phase organised by NATO. Initial series of sessions were largely indoor theoretical lessons. The tactical prepping on team level was followed by staff training on combat planning and control. It all came to head in the third stage in which Afghani National Army role players were assigned to us, whom we have been mentoring both on team and staff level,“ the unit commander Lieutenant-Colonel Zdeněk Mikula describes. ”The real Afghanis are only in the key posts; the rest is played by Albanian soldiers. But they are doing an excellent job realistically playing situation our soldiers may find themselves in. We have gone through the whole decision-making process with deputy kandak (battalion) commander seeking to identify bottlenecks that could turn up later on in Afghanistan.“ The ops already worked fully under their direction at the time of our visit. The Czech mentors only watched from distance for possible mistakes. They just shadowed them for a larger part of exercising at the JMRC. ”Working with Albanians very good as their officers went through a BMATT course in Vyškov, Czech Republic.

They have known the Czech Republic and the Czech Armed Forces; we have something to build on. They have not served as operations officers yet, but we nevertheless managed to train them in some three days to lead operations activities without our direct involvement. They operate radios themselves, we just keep them aligned so that everything runs smoothly,“ Warrant Officer Martin Janeček smiles with contentment. ”I was in Afghanistan with the fourth PRT contingent. I  know what an ops post is about. But not all of our soldiers have had that type of experience before. Now they have a chance here for example to practise how the system of individual MEDEVAC reports work and rehearse radio communication in English.“

Security Updates

A part of the team went to Wardak province two months ago to get familiar with the context and with the operations of the 2nd deployment the OMLT serving the operational assignment at present. ”We have gained a picture about what it is really about down there. We are updating the security situation continuously plus were briefed on all security incidents that had taken place there. The situation is assessed is continuously instable. We are aware of that; it represents certain risk for us. In this regard, we have respect but no fear,“ Lieutenant-Colonel Zdeněk Mikula points out. ”Our team only comprises experienced military professionals who have been through several operational tours. A loss of a mate in such deployment definitely affects everybody. But I do not think though the tragic events that took place in Wardak would have any impact on the unit’s preparedness. Our soldiers have known from the very beginning what risk the deployment represents.“ That is what Warrant Officer Václav Přichystal, a  Czech Komando course instructor, confirms as well. He started his service with the airborne battalion in Chrudim as a  conscript in 1994. He signed a  contract after conscription and became a limited contract professional. Wardak will be his seventh operational

tour already. ”Everyone is worried in a way, and the family is not really happy about that either. But we have to put up with it. I personally block such stuff out. If we get in contact, I am confident we have drills and procedures to respond in such situation. If that works out well however will only show in Afghanistan.“ LTC Mikula is not a  newbie himself either. This is his fourth operational tour. Earlier in his career, he served in Kosovo and as part of the ATO training program in Baghdad. He had a  chance to see workings of the highest-level operational centres of the Iraqi Armed Forces from Defence Ministry through Interior Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office. Never ending rocket attacks targeting the Green Zone - the central area of Baghdad that houses top state authorities - were very depressive at that time. There were several attacks a day. One alarm after another. Coalition forces had to run for shelter once the alarm was up. Not everybody coped seamlessly.

Progressing in small steps

”I even got into the training of Iraqi Navy and Marine Corps. I was assigned for some time to the naval base in Um Kasr and later on I served on a British warship in the Gulf. Our ship was nearly fifty kilometres from the shore. We moved there on Iraqi patrol boats. The technical condition of hose obsolete vessels was really on the edge. Some crewmembers started praying as we went on high seas. Anytime we would turn around, they also had to turn around to obey the rules the Koran prescribes for them. Our ship was not subject to rocket attacks, but we had permanent alarms there as well. We trained evacuation. We did not experience seasickness, it was a  big ship with several decks, but one big maze nevertheless. It just took to move from one side to the other for one to get lost. I  lost my way several times. We felt how the vessel was moving in spite of that. We even felt every helicopter landing on her deck,“ LTC Mikula describes. “The greatest benefit however was working

with a  nation of eastern culture. Such work obviously encompassed great difficulties, but it was extremely interesting. I  intend to use that experience during our deployment in the Wardak province. The biggest possible danger for us is frustration. While it seems to us - the Europeans - that no headway was made in training, the Arabian perspective may be completely opposite. For us it means not to set high goals, make progress in small steps and try and respect the local culture.“ Among the many training sessions covering what the deployment could be confronted with in Wardak, the Czech servicepeople found most attractive the one in which they had a chance to increase their familiarity with improvised explosive devices. The session was led by a seasoned EOD expert, Bob Weir. His career record includes over twenty years of EOD service in the U.S. Army and he also lectured at the FBI School of Intelligence. Over the years, he managed to amass incredible quantity of various activating devices and procedures how to produce high explosives using improvised input materials and makeshift procedures. For example, he showed to the Czech soldiers how to cook a  high explosive using industrial fertilizers. But the point was not to make them learn it. He rather sought to increase their familiarity with specific devices and input materials essential for such production. In case they encounter such materials during their deployment in Afghanistan, they may respond immediately and prevent possible losses.

by Vladimír Marek



In the beginning of 2011, the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic started systematically training its service personnel for rescue from enemycontrolled territory.
While eighteen participants in the course (most of whom are slated for operational tours in Afghanistan) were able to practice all skills essential for such situations over the first week, they were up to a  field training exercise in the second week. They were dropped in the environs of Kunštát and Vírská přehrada, and they were tasked to covertly move to assigned locations almost without any means. At the same time, there were other troops and assigned forces of the Police and Customs Administration going after them on the ground and in the air. But it was not just about survival. That was just a part of training; they had to evade the opponent, resist in the hostile territory and join their order of battle back if possible. They only had what they fitted in the pockets of their battledresses, and flint and steel to make fire. They did not have sleeping bags, no water, not enough food. They had to cater for it from local sources. The nature however offered relative abundance of fruits. They were fortunate with the weather too. They would advance with much more difficulty in a blizzard or pelting rain.

Not just about surviving
For a moment, there was a roar as if an avalanche was coming. All of a sudden a tiger with huge mouth and massive claws swung up on the horizon. But it was not real, but painted on a side of an Mi-24 gunship. The cat and mouse game was just about to begin. Indeed, a game involving a feline predator represented by a machine of the Tiger helicopter squadron from Náměšť nad Oslavou, and several soldiers scattered in hilly countryside in the vicinity of Kunštát, who had managed to escape police and customs searching teams.

Roots in Vietnam

A two-week SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Extraction) course organised by the Rescue and Parachute training section from Vyškov entered the final stage. This session concentrated on rescuing soldiers or airmen who get isolated in hostile territory in the course of combat activities, for example as a result of helicopter downing, convoy engagement or just a loss of orientation.

Although survival and escape training has previously been a  part of general military training, it was never performed on such a  scale and to such high standards as is today. Thanks to an increasing involvement of the Czech Armed Forces in international operations in various parts of the world, it became essential to harmonise this type of training with NATO doctrines and standard operation procedures. ”Such concept-based training has just got underway in our Armed Forces. Its foundations were laid in the U.S. during the Vietnam War. The U.S. was losing too many personnel at that time, namely pilots whose training was very expensive,“ the chief of rescue training group Captain M. Lang explains. ”They had to make extra effort to rescue those pilots not only for economic reasons but also as part of psychological support to deployed forces. They needed to understand that if they were going into kinetic action and would find themselves in enemy

controlled territory for any reason, they would be provided assistance.“ In mid-1990s, the U.S. military developed a regulation that quite comprehensively covered these issues. Moreover, it has been amended on several occasions recently. NATO nations adopted the manual and modified to NATO standards. The Armed Forces of the Czech Republic joined this type of training at the beginning of 2011. We initially only focused on training pilots downed over enemy territory. But since our forces have been deployed in Afghanistan where an asymmetric conflict rages with no regular combat lines, virtually anyone can become isolated in enemy territory. Majority of regions in Afghanistan may be opposing to the forces. We therefore decided to train the whole Armed Forces of the Czech Republic across-the-board. “Every soldier, with very minor exceptions, should complete some of the levels of the SERE course, which has A, B and C level with different demands from the lowest to the highest. The training peaks in instructor course. Those levels are determined according to the risk facing the individual in question. For example, helicopter pilots and logistic support personnel not leaving the camp will be exposed to a different level of threat. The loggies will do with general awareness according to A level,“ Captain Lang

underscores. ”We developed NATO-standard courses for the whole Czech Armed Forces from scratch at the beginning of this year. We were therefore forced to train multiple levels in parallel. But we plan that in the future the trainees will progressively complete A, B and C level requirements and everything will come to a head with the instructor course.“

Rescue unit needed

A forward air controller permanently communicates with two helicopters aircrews. All information that could lead to detecting the isolated soldiers on the ground is immediately forwarded to the ground personnel. In addition, a  canine officer with his comrade has just boarded a helicopter. This is training for the animal alike, as it has to become accustomed to noise and to what is often not very comfortable flight. The dog may then be dropped in a suitable location to trace down soldiers taking cover. Contrarily, there are three elements involved in rescuing the isolated personnel. First of them are isolated soldiers themselves. Their training, as mentioned, has been ongoing in the Czech military for a couple of months already. In the near-term,



training should begin of the staff who will control the rescue effort. Most likely, that will be a component of the MoD Joint Operations Centre. And then there is the very unit performing the rescue operation. That had existed in the past for a couple of years, but then it was abolished. But it would only take earmarking a  platoon or company of an airborne or reconnaissance battalion for the performance of this task. “Now we are focusing on training isolated individuals, on how they are to survive, how they are to resist. The most important are procedures that help soldiers get back. In the past, the Czech Armed Forces used the Soviet model that envisaged the downed soldiers to transition into insurgent mode of combat. The course graduates should realise there is an effort underway to save them and contribute to that. They should know that a team was deployed to save them. It is vital to use certain signals and signs according to standard operation procedures to make the team aware,“ Captain Lang elaborates. ”All of that is strictly classified. The opponent could abuse it, tie the rescue team on them and engage. The rescued person must therefore know exactly how to conduct when the rescue team approaches. Indeed, the rescue team may regard them as opposing forces till the very last moment and could engage them.“ military command and agree on where to transport the individuals,“ Customs Administration instructor Kryštof Benda explains. ”In total, there are fifteen of us here from various corners of the Czech Republic. The military in Vyškov asked us to provide assistance to them in training using the powers we are vested with. This is a customs surveillance and search type of operation. We have both equipment and training for such stuff. And it is a sort of training for us alike. We have opportunities here to practise flexibility, field operations, capabilities and systems. We are learning new lessons.“ There are also four service personnel on the ground who will be a  part of an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team. Their mission is to provide flight training to the Afghani National Army Air Corps personnel. In this case, their deployment will face the highest level of threat. They have to pass C-level course. As a matter of fact, HQ ISAF in Kabul issued an ordinance stipulating that it is each nation’s responsibility to provide SERE training to their forces deployed in Afghanistan according to the level of threat they will face. ”Naturally we had to address that. Nevertheless, we would like this course to be completed by all Czech Armed Forces service personnel, whether slated for deployments or not. Rescuing isolated personnel from enemy controlled territories is something military professionals should train for in a long run. It is not possible to pass the course once and think it is all over for me for many years. These things must be continuously rehearsed and practiced. That is why the course is only valid for four years, then you have to go again,“ Captain Lang says. ”It is extremely important for all those going into high-threat action to know that maximum effort will be done to bring them safely back. Service personnel should be aware of the fact that there is a structure, a rescue system in place.“ necessary branches. Soldiers and airmen should have at least basic awareness of tactics, topography and survival. ”Sadly it has turned out that some individuals are very poorly prepared, in some cases even zero. Yet there are people responsible for such types of training posted with every unit. Instead of building on something we have to focus on very beginnings and substitute the work other should have done. That indeed hinders and makes it more complicated for us,“ Captain Lang points out. “There are also quite remarkable differences between Land and Air Force personnel. We know in advance who will be better at tactics and who in topography, for example.“ On the other hand, the chief of rescue and parachute training was pleased to see flexibility and creativity the course trainees displayed. They managed to cover covertly a  distance of twenty kilometres on the first day of the field exercise. They were substantially faster than the organisers expected. SERE training is intentionally not held in a military training area. Its primary focus is placed on evading any civilisation. That cannot be effectively organised in military training areas; because they lack urban areas, there is nothing to avoid. Civilian population movement is not sufficient there either. The trainees must proceed in the terrain so as not to be seen. Collaboration with the Police of the Czech Republic and the Customs Administration is not coincidental either. ”It is not just about the possibility for the police and customs officers to practise their work in these activities, such as forming various screens and search the terrain,“ Captain Lang emphasises. ”Authorisation of forces and agencies in the civilian sector are much broader than those vested with the military. We have multiple armed services working in concert here, and that is relatively positively appreciated by the local civilian population. It is a sort of outreach activity for the Armed Forces too.“

Tanks taking a bath

Open area challenge

We are learning on the radio that the Customs Administration response team have just detected two soldiers. They will be penalised. They are deprived of the little amount of food they have been given. In addition, they are returned nearly to the beginning of their journey. ”We had six individuals detected yesterday, today we have three already. The lads are not using natural cover in shrubbery as much as they could. They are moving in open areas without requisite camouflage and concealment. We even discovered some footprints they made. In apprehension, we proceed strictly according to the law. We treat them as checked persons. If they do not present their IDs, we apprehend them for subsequent identity checking. Naturally, we contact the

Rudiments missing

SERE instructors have been already posted with all brigades, but even at some units and subunits. But the issue is that not everybody applying for the course has sufficient knowledge in

by Vladimír Marek

The engine of the T-72 M4CZ upgraded tank got roaring at full throttle. Its tracks got revolving towards the waterhead, the Myslejovické Lake. Although this summer may be capricious and not much in favour of bathers, that surely does not apply to military equipment. After fourteen-year intermission, the Březina Military Training Area at Vyškov was the venue at the end June this year to tank fording. BMP 2 infantry fighting vehicles and Pandur armoured fighting vehicles have also joined the swimming session. One of those even performed water slalom and reversing on the surface. The 7th Mechanised Brigade even performed this organisationally and funding-intensive training primarily to the effect of maintaining those operational capabilities. Fording or possibly swimming with military equipment is important for manoeuvre operations. Thanks to that capability, even heavy forces are able to negotiate water heads without the need to set up temporary bridging.
by Vladimír Marek Photos: Kan Kouba



What was supposed to be a staff position for Lieutenant-Colonel Ladislav Zakuťanský turned in a frontline posting right after he arrived Afghanistan.

Certification under fire
An armoured Ford car with ISAF insignia was just passing along the Massoud Square in Kabul, when individuals with assault rifles blocked its way completely unexpectedly. The combatants gestured wildly at us to halt at once.
“The whole situation looked rather fishily, so I told my Italian colleague he would better step on the gas. Before we managed to accelerate though, those individuals gave a couple of kicks to our car,“ Lieutenant-Colonel Ladislav Zakuťanský, who sat in the right seat, describes the drama. ”When they realised we were not stopping, they jumped into their trucks and set out to chase us. They caught us up in about two kilometres and encircled us. They attempted pulling us out of the car. None of them spoke English, so we did not know what they wanted at all.We hesitated whether to use weapons or not.“ Fortunately a young English speaking Afghani man turned up, and he told the ISAF officers that the individuals were concerned with dark car windows. President Hamid Karzai allegedly ordered that coalition forces must not have dark windows. ”They demanded that we removed the black tint on spot. I tried to explain them it was not possible, that the tint was sintered between two glasses, but to no effect. In the end I gave one of those shouting most a small knife to try it out. Of course he did not manage. What he only achieved was that he broke the knife. Then they started arguing among themselves,“ LieutenantColonel Zakuťanský explains. The whole incident lasted about fifty minutes. Officers thankfully requested assistance by a quick reaction company from Camp Phoenix. Once Afghanis saw reinforcements coming in, they gave up and departed.

No time to think

When LTC Zakuťanský was offered by his superiors in Vyškov a  position at HQ ISAF to serve as a staff officer in OMLT/POMLT Division in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2010, he assumed he would spend most of his tour in Kabul. The reality however was completely different. ”I arrived Kabul in February 2010 and reported to my commander, a Turkish Colonel. On the third day in post, I left for Gardez to attend certification of an observer and mentoring team. It was the first and the last time that my predecessor in post, a  Latvian Lieutenant-Colonel, went with me. He showed me everything essential on spot. There was simply no time for

lengthy contemplation. Once I completed certification of a team, I hurried up to attend the next one,“ LTC  Zakuťanský says. ”In about forty days I was assigned in the East of Afghanistan and spent the following three months in Herat, where I was primarily responsible for Italian and Spanish teams. Then I served in the North in the

Mazar-e-Sharif area for forty days. There was literally just a few several days I spent in Kabul. And those were spiced with some dramatic moments as well.“ He was the first Czech Armed officer to be assigned to such position, and perhaps there is no other individual in the Czech Armed Forces to have travelled across Afghanistan as much as him. There were twelve officers at the ISAF-IJC component, where he served, and everyone of them represented armed forces of a  different nation. They reported directly to the commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan and IJC commander Lieutenant-General David Rodriguez. A  staff administration work that LTC Zakuťanský had prepped for turned into a highly dynamic job. He was responsible for both certification of training and mentoring teams, and periodical checking on those forces as well as the third phase of training, which was training in the field, on the battlefield in the whole Afghani territory. ”Certifications took maximum five days. First of all, there was a briefing on the unit. Based on the briefing, I checked the actual number for correctness, but also the quantity of weapons and other materiel. I  checked for communication systems available and what type of satellite phones the team had,“ LTC Zakuťanský explains. ”In the next phase, I  visited the Afghanis starting with the commander and continued via 2-in-C, chief of staff, operations officer, intelligence officer and logistic support officer. That is where the quality of teamwork showed most. I found out whether someone taught them well to plan, prepare operations and support them with materiel. Over the other two or three days, I inspected performance of missions in action. I mostly moved among combat outposts, that is in locations with not really ideal security situation.“

Twenty-two days on the road

I had to develop a report on each certification or inspection, which I sent to Kabul to General Rodriguez. In the report summary, I recommended unit for certification or not. But it happened much more often that I had comments on some partial matters that had to be redressed. I  used any means of transportation available, airplanes, helicopters as well as ground. His vehicle was included in convoys in majority of instances and he did not have any logistic support and operated completely autonomously. He had to provide both for the helicopter and for the follow-on transportation. But transfers were not the most risky activities. Much more dangerous was the service he performed afterwards. For periodical inspections, he chose periods of time when the Afghani units were involved in a combat operation together with OMLT. Combat activities differed according to the primary mission individual kandaks/battalions had, ranging from foot patrolling to vehicle-borne operations. ”I  went with them for operations that commonly involved attacks using improvised explosive devices and convoy engagement. The units I inspected frequently had to defend against attacks by opposing forces,“ LTC Zakuťanský recalls. I moved from Herat to Bala Murghab with a  kandak mentored by the Spanish. A convoy of one hundred and fifty vehicles was to cover the distance of about one hundred and twenty kilometres. You can imagine how demanding it was as we moved eleven days there and eleven days back. It was a very interesting experience.“ While in Afghanistan, he had a  chance to work with Italian, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and Turks. In addition, there were combined teams, for example US-Hungarian or

US-Latvian. Mentality, attitude, equipment and even training procedures differed from unit to unit. He said Italians and Spanish got closest to his heart. He naturally collaborated with training teams and the Afghani National Army most of time. He met soldiers with a rich body of combat experience, mainly from the times of their fight against Russians. They had difficult times performing some staff activities though, namely planning. But they made up for it with personal courage and dedication. That is what he admired them for. ”The Afghanis are very warm-hearted. When they saw someone was coming for visit, they immediately invited us for lunch. The food was delicious: mostly rice, baked potatoes, ram meat, much fruit and vegetables. But we knew beforehand we would suffer from digestion problems as we are not used to such meals. But that was simply a part of it,“ LTC Zakuťanský says. High temperatures played a  role too. When he was leaving Mazar-e Sharif, the sun was hanging in the sky like a fire ball. The thermometer showed nearly sixty degrees Celsius. “In Herat, for example, an awful lot of servicepeople got ill overnight. As the wind was blowing, it raised dust, we breathed it in and got heavy fever and nausea,“ he says. LTC Zakuťanský completed his tour in August 2010. But his endeavour in Afghanistan came back to him in a  few months’ time. This time in an enjoyable way. The U.S. Embassy in Prague decorated him with the Meritorious Service Medal. He very much deserved that.

by Vladimír Marek Photos by Vladimír Marek and LTC Ladislav Zakuťanský



into Viterbo over some twelve hundred kilometres. The distance was successfully covered by both a bus carrying materiel and assets, but also two flight waves from Přerov AFB and Náměšť AFB, comprising three Mi-171Sh and two Mi24/35. “The flight to Viterbo was easy and took four and half hour. We refuelled at military airfield in Casarsa in the North of Italy. Our standard cruising flight level is 500 feet above the ground,“ an Mi-24/35 helicopter captain CAPT Martin Vaniš explains. The Hips flew the same route into the area. Their flight formation was a  trail with right echelon. Viterbo eventually hosted helicopter formations from eight European Union states, including a sixty-two strong contingent of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, with the same goal to practise operation and tactical procedures used in foreign operations, especially in ISAF, for nearly three weeks (from May 23 till June 9). ”Quite many of the Mi-171Sh flight personnel present here are the servicepeople, who will soon deploy to Afghanistan, specifically as a part of the 7th rotation of the Heli Unit ISAF at FOB Sharana. Their primary mission downrange will be to provide air mobility for personnel and cargo in support ISAF Regional Command East (RC-E) coalition forces at day and night,“ says Colonel Jaromír Šebesta, the commanding officer of the Czech Armed Forces unit assigned for participation in exercise Italian Call 2011, and goes on to say that the pilots of Hind gunships have much the same mission – to mentor and train Afghani National Army Air Corps personnel as part of an Air Mentoring Team (AMT) at the Kabul International Airport. “Exercise Italian Call is for us an excellently timed prepping and I regard it an effective way to gain additional practical experience,“ COL Šebesta states and points out individual missions: ”In nutshell, the effort includes low level and mountain flying, formation flights, night flights with NVGs, live air fire exercise at day and night with NVGs, tactical individual flying and pair flying, and takeoffs and landings in dusty environment.“

High quality technical support

International exercise Italian Call 2011 prior to their deployment in Afghanistan

Dusty Mountain Trial
After a year and a day, helicopter formations from several European Union Member States again arrived for a joint exercise. Same as last year in exercise AZOR 2010 at Logrono-Agoncillo airbase in Spain, this year’s air manoeuvres Italian Call 2011 at Viterbo airbase took place under the auspices of the European Defence Agency (EDA). The international community comprised representatives of eight countries with over thirty rotary wing assets.
The reason for holding a joint exercise is obvious. The European Defence Agency regards helicopters aircrew training as one of the key projects to enable operations in demanding and high-threat environments, such as Operation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. To achieve that goal, the Helicopter Training Programme (HTP) was designed and authorised by the EDA steering board on defence ministers’ level in autumn 2009. The program encompasses joint exercises for multinational task forces to improve interoperability in terms of operation and tactical procedures as well as specialist workshops to develop defence capabilities in European Union Member States. It is no secret that the first EDA-sponsored multinational event was an exercise in French Alps that trained mountain flying and plateau landing in March 2009. At that time, fifty Czech Air Force service personnel and three Mi-171Sh machines took part in mountain training at Gap Tallard airfield nearby Grenoble together with helicopter units from France, Hungary and Spain. The joint exercises in Spain (June 2010) and Italy (end May/June 2011) followed with the involvement of both the transport one-seven-oners and also Mi-24 gunships from the Czech Republic. To complete the picture: the objectives of annual exercises held by the European Defence Agency have not been identical. For example in France and Spain, the principal priority was mountain flying and landing on plateaus over two thousand metres above sea level, as well as takeoff and landings in dust both day and night with night vision goggles (NVG). The exercise in Italy drilled performance of joint missions in international environment using an Afghani-like scenario.

While helicopter crews go from one briefing to another to determine how will the upcoming flight effort in assigned zone of Viterbo airbase and in Italian airspace will look like, the ground technical personnel prep machines for flying. ”There is no difference in individual types of preparation, from preliminary to after-flight check. The sequence of works, indeed of inspection checks is completely identical as at our home station,“ explains Warrant Officer Marcel Palko, the commander of a  technical flight group with the 221st Helicopter Squadron, and adds that they brought with them just a  minimum stock of spare parts and essential appliances to provide mandatory maintenance. ”The Mi-24/35 helicopters do not rank among those liable to failure; it is indeed a  troublefree machine just with common operation-related stuff,“ says the chief of eight members of the ground engineering service from Náměšť. A couple of metres on, ground personnel from Přerov are about to finalise prepping the Mi-171Sh. ”Preparing for this exercise, we have not done anything special. We have had

experience attending events like this. The actual three choppers were selected so as for the machines to have mandatory periodical checks completed to provide sufficient technical life commensurate to the duration of the exercise,“

Mission Rehearsal for Afghanistan

Several months’ preparations, including planning conferences and coordination meetings came to a  head with ground and flight transfer



states the senior engineer for airframes and engines of the 23rd Air Force Base Přerov, Captain Ladislav Kuruc.

Hippo zero one, cleared for takeoff

The view from the control tower shows clearly which one of the helicopters were cleared for starting engines. Three spinning rotor circles, above the Italian multirole NH-90 machine, Slovenian AS-532 Cougar and Czech Mi-171Sh, are a proof positive of the upcoming flight effort as part of international task force operations. The ait traffic management team leader communicates essential information to aircrews on the radio, including current wind direction on the airfield surface. ”Hippo zero one, ready to taxi,“ the captain of the Czech one-seven-oner CAPT Michal Kocourek reports to the group leader, an Italian lieutenant in the NH-90. It is a couple of minutes before eleven hours as the trio of helicopters take positions at the holding
Captain Martin Vaniš

position before the runway. The leader requests the tower for clearing him to enter the runway. Moments later, the helicopters get airborne and pick up speed in heading of runway two-two which brings them into the departure corridor. “Now we will position ourselves into an arrow formation. The Italian in the lead, Slovenian left and me right,“ Captain Kocourek comments. Following a preplanned route, they set out into one of the exercise zones. The first objective of the morning air shift is to do restricted area landings. NH-90 touches down and AS-532 Cougar with Mi-171Sh provide cover from above. Next up is dusty environment training: repeated takeoffs and landings both individually and in formation. Then they do tactical approaches and flights – naturally with changes of positions in the formation – into another exercise area. Straw bales come as a surprise there to the international helicopter community. Straws flying everywhere also put the flight personnel’s professionalism to a test. ”The flight took seventy-five minutes.

I  practised dusty landing seven times. It is not that much about quantity, but about performing the operation exactly. It just takes a slightest mistake and it wraps you up. In other words you lose visual contact with the ground and have to go up immediately. This is really about fractions of a  second. The key in those moments is the experience of the helicopter captain and the teamwork by the aircrew,“ the Mi-171Sh helicopter pilot emphasises and joins his Italian and Slovenian colleagues for a  debriefing to do  an in-depth assessment of the mission they just accomplished. Regardless of the actual outcome of operations by the multinational helicopter force, one positive aspect is already obvious. ”Since the missions are performed by nations that do  not operate jointly that much often, we are gaining more experience and familiarity with different planning procedures and mission performance. One day you operate together with Belgians, then with Germans and with Austrians the other day. Everybody has their national specifities,“ Colonel Šebesta expresses his appreciation and highlights another strength of exercise Italian Call 2011. ”We made use of the local air firing range to perform live fire with the .30 cal PKM machine gun from onboard the helicopter both at day and night using the NVGs.“

tactical air controller, he performs several attacks on enemy fire assets in the area, and then Captain Martin Vaniš provides cover to the Italian A-129 Mangusta, whose engine conked out, and finally escorts the helicopter formation on their way back to airbase. On the whole, nearly two hours of flight larded with tactical procedures. No musing on the apron. Once both gunships are refuelled, other aircrews from Náměšť AFB depart to perform their taskings, this time it a  mountain landing. “Back in the Czech Republic, the ceiling for us is around thirteen hundred metres. Here we fly as high as two kilometres which is much closer to the reality on the ground in Afghanistan. The opportunity to have such a drill is extremely valuable for us. I returned from Afghanistan recently, and therefore I know myself how important is each landing with the Hind at elevations so high. In addition, we are doing it here

relatively at ease and so we may fully concentrate on landing and takeoff methodology. In Afghanistan, you have to have it under your skin already, because the factor of danger affects you strongly. You do not have time to ponder at length downrange,“ Captain Mareš says. Why are landings/takeoffs at high elevations so demanding? “The Hinds are not as overengined as one-seven-oners plus they also have a smaller rotor diameter. At two thousand metres above sea level, we indeed reach the top limit of engine performance. High ambient temperature also plays a role. In general, every additional degree Celsius decreases for me the elevation above sea level I am able to land at. And I underscore, not only to perform safe landing in selected area, but also a  takeoff. The whole crew must work together very effectively. The priority is to have continuous awareness of the helicopter’s performance indicators. You cannot take it to the

limit; you always have to have some performance reserve. Naturally, there are many more indications you have to follow. Last but not least the landing zone itself, specifically its size, inclination or high-elevation obstacles,“ the experienced Mi-24 pilot Captain Martin Vaniš comments and specifies that so-called national training or autonomous training of units is the preferred option for the initial exercise phase and only then joint multinational flyingcomes up. The final phase encompasses an all-out exercise to practise the acquired skills – in a  designated area, at given time and in cooperation of all involved forces. Intensive flight effort by Czech helicopter forces entered flight logs as follows: Mi-171Sh machines performed 309 sorties totalling 87hrs49min and Mi-24/35 one hundred and fifty sorties with total of 70 flight hours during exercise Italian Call 2011.
by Pavel Lang Photos by Pavek Lang and Jiří Hokův

Tactical procedures live

The afternoon mission involves a  pair of Hinds from Náměšť AFB. Along with Italian CH-47 Chinooks, Belgian A-109 Agustas, German CH-53s and Austrian Bell AB-212, their rotors start turning ten minutes past fourteen hundred. The whole pack of helicopters shortly set out for the Viterbo airfield runway to take off in a minute and line up on heading two-seven-zero. Mi-24/35 flying end positions in the formation may arouse sarcastic smile with some, but insiders know what it is all about. “We cover their back as an armed escort,“ Hind helicopter captain CAPT Josef Mareš says keeping his eyes locked on the multirole NH-90 machines with podded mortars flying before him. Fifteen minutes on, the idea that this could possibly be sort of an undisturbed “inspection“ flight appears naive. Requested by ground



so-called battle medicine to the Reconnaissance Battalion in Prostějov and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in Bechyně. First regular CLS training courses were held in Strakonice in mid-2009, focusing on the provision of qualified casualty treatment in tactical environments meant only for professionals without medical training,“ WO Duchoň says. His vision has not always met with a  forthcoming attitude. Some academic circles even claimed it was deemed to fail, or to be ineffective. Perhaps also because it has partially differed from the previously implemented integrated field casualty care system designated as BATLS (Battlefield Advanced Trauma Life Support) and BARTS (Battlefield Advanced Resuscitations Techniques and Skills). ”Implementing civilian medicine elements into tactical environments does not always work fine. The program we pursue is completely analogous to the US TC3 system effective since 1996, which builds on lessons learnt in real-world combat operations over extended period of time. It is primarily designed to perform high-quality treatment in extreme conditions and with very restricted personal and material resources. In other words it is an evidence based medicine applied in combat. I  did not invent anything new, I just wanted to create room for improvement,“ WO Duchoň opines and goes on to say that five-day CLS courses have taken place practically every month since mid-2009. ”Throughout the period of CLS existence, we have trained some five hundred military professionals at Strakonice from various Czech Armed Forces units and components. We prefer servicepeople scheduled for deployments. We highly appreciate the great interest shown in this special training. At the outset, we asked commanders to send their subordinates to the course, now it is the other way round. I may say fairly that this special medical training has grown into a prestigious affair. Sadly we have to reject some of those interested for the time being. Our capacity is quite limited,“ the military medic states. What does he specifically mean? Namely materiel support and funding, which has not met with relevant appreciation so far. ”Just the disposable materiel for a  course edition costs about seven and half thousand Czech korunas. We are helping out ourselves in this regard. We realise the inestimable value of this type of medical training. A qualified help to an injured soldier, to a comrade, is indeed much more important than a hundred note on own initiative,“ WO Duchoň argues. A new speciality developed as a part of TCCC, the so-called combat lifesaver, which however does not match the standard military medic specialty. The combat lifesavers are full-fledged members of manoeuvre units, and their knowhow significantly increases the chances of survival their colleagues stand in engagements. Along with standard stock of ammunition and materiel, the CLS has very specific medical equipment for providing tactical care. Optimally there should be two lifesavers in a team. ”Our training system is based on learning theoretical knowledge and practical drills in the field. The performance by the course trainees is closely followed by CLS instructors. We proceed from the simple to the complex. Example? Increasing demands in field training episodes. We progressively shorten the time given for transporting casualties to the helicopter or we do not tell the trainees the number of casualties on engagement in ambush beforehand. So, they have to work for an extended period of time under fire in extreme conditions,“ WO Duchoň points out and specifies that contrarily to civilian environment combat casualty treatment is affected by major factors such as stress, noise, darkness or lack of medical materiel and last but not least the enemy fire. The course curriculum is not constant, but changes slightly from time to time. The key authorities in this respect include the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) or the Czech Association of Combat Medics, which shape the course contents depending on current developments in ongoing armed conflicts. ”We concur with their recommendations. To make the training more effective, we will subsequently review our tactical casualty care training system. If we are told to focus on spinal traumas, we will attach due emphasis to it,“ WO Duchoň declares. Certification of the CLS course in Strakonice will take place in the forthcoming days. In other words, after two years of working do-it-yourself style, legislation framework will be provided for the course to operate in. Upon completing the course, the Czech Armed Forces servicepeople will receive a  full combat lifesaver certificate instead of a  course attendance appreciation. ”The GBAD Brigade would that way officially become one of the five specialised training institutions in the Czech Armed Forces,“ Deputy Commander the 25th Ground Based Air Defence Brigade Colonel Dalibor Zvonek specifies.
by Pavel Lang photos by Jan Kouba

Service personnel without specialist medical training go through a dedicated combat casualty care training

Combat Survival
What has been an easy-going field reconnaissance mission suddenly ends up in an incident. A foot patrol runs into ambush as they enter woods. The consequence of fierce enemy fire is serious. Even the sounds of the battle do not drown out voices crying: ”casualty”. Those are heard three times consecutively …
Although under enemy fire, the troops manage to disengage from ambush thanks to cover fire and drag their wounded colleagues behind a  bump nearby to provide first aid in combat. The priority is to stop massive bleeding from upper and lower extremities using tourniquets. An intensive counterstrike partially eliminates the opponent. The window of opportunity opens for a speedy movement into a relatively calmer area. Initial treatment continues there – the injured are again checked on the massive sources of bleeding, airways are checked for passability, chest wounds get treated and action is taken to prevent shock development or to stabilise shock. ”MEDEVAC thirty minutes,“ he commander says abruptly, giving a clear signal to his subor-

dinates that they are to wait with the casualties in designated area in thirty minutes’ time. Foot movement to the landing zone is not an undisturbed effort either. The anticipated risk of enemy attack materialises repeatedly. The formation however acts according operation procedures and arrives at the pick-up point in about twenty-five minutes. Sighting the approaching medevac helicopter confirms they have accomplished their mission. The casualties are transferred to a field medical facility to receive required specialist care. This was one of the episodes comprising the Combat Life Saver (CLS) course organised by the Ground-Based Air Defence Brigade in Strakonice in October earlier this year.

Analogy to US tactical medicine

Warrant Officer Jaroslav Duchoň

Warrant Officer Jaroslav Duchoň, a  member of the field aid station of the 252nd Surface-toAir Missile Battalion, stood at the beginning of introducing the combat first care endeavour, the so-called Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) program, and has used the system since 2003 already. His initiative was boosted upon an incident that happened in April 2008 as a Czech Armed Forces vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the Logar province in Afghanistan killing Warrant Officer Radim Vaculík and heavily injuring First Lieutenant Robert Chudý, with whom he served on deployment in the Provincial Reconstruction Team. ”It took as aback a  lot and we decided spontaneously to do  our best to increase the chances of survival for our warriors. After the deployment, we first started as a travelling team comprising several Combat Life Saver instructors to provide lectures on the

Certification coming soon

The Tactical Combat Casualty Care program comprises three basic phases: Care Under Fire; Tactical Field Care (care outside effective enemy fire), and; Tactical Evacuation Care (TACEVAC – care during evacuation). Importance of TCCC is supported by a range of specialist studies that have concluded that the high field fatality rate could undoubtedly be reduced. The stats say that about ninety percent of heavily inured service personnel die in the battlefield and on evacuation, i.e. before they receive qualified medical care. First medical aid is therefore critical.



military installations. “We are about to conclude the training cycle with an adequate level of preparedness for support of the Alliance’s units in the territory of the Czech Republic,” stated Brigadier General Jaroslav Kocián, now already a former CO of the Support Forces, referring to the White Paper on Defense, which characterizes host nation support as one of the key politico-military ambitions of the Czech Republic. Brigadier Kocián believes the training mode employed by the Support Forces is very efficient. “The three-year cycle has proven to be good and we expect this mode will continue to be used in the years to come as well. I have personally discussed this issue with commanders and chiefs of subordinate organizational elements.” The Commanding Officer of the Military Medical Facility in Hradec Králové, Colonel of the General Staff MUDr.  Jan Österreicher, whose subordinates include both the 6th and 7th Field Hospitals and the Medical Support Company, sees the “Medical Man 2011” exercise as another realistic test of standard operating procedures for a mass reception of casualties who have been struck by an attack by weapons of mass destruction. “We are not only improving professional skills of the field hospital personnel, which are at Role Levels 2/E to 3, but we are also sharing the lessons we have recently learnt in Afghanistan with professionals participating in the exercise, as the chief of the field hospital taking part in the “Medical Man 2011” is Lieutenant Colonel Martin Oberreiter, who commanded the first Czech field surgical team in the French military hospital located in Kabul.” of the year. As a matter of fact, its scenario matched the reality of operational deployment quite closely,” says Lieutenant Colonel Jan Hruboň, CO of the 312th CBRN Battalion.

A realistic scenario

The exercise scenario can be regarded, without any exaggeration, as up-to-date and timely. “As a  matter of fact, these are the threats that the Alliance units deployed in Afghanistan are confronted with. We discussed these issues quite often within our professional community in Kabul and, honestly speaking, not all details of medical help to casualties of a  potential attack using weapons of mass destruction were entirely convincing. The topic of the exercise is thus very timely. In my opinion, the exceptional nature of the exercise consists in the reception of casualties being performed in close cooperation with CBRN specialists from Liberec,” emphasizes Lieutenant Colonel Oberreiter. “For some of the members of the chemical reconnaissance and decontamination company, the exercise presented another opportunity to prepare for the next rotation to Afghanistan in the end

Medical and CBRN personnel of the Czech Armed Forces trained for a mass reception of casualties following the use of weapons of mass destruction

A Dirty Bomb Attack

Medical personnel and CBRN specialists – two service branches of the Czech Armed Forces, who do not train or exercise together too often. Although a few weeks have already elapsed since their joint exercise, a description of their cooperation in handling an emergency is both interesting and still topical. As a matter of fact, an order to deploy for a natural disaster, to a humanitarian mission or a stabilization operation may come at any time.

Makab has launched operations in the territory of Laprep and its representatives have declared they are ready to mount an attack if the United Nations fails to recognize the independence of the autonomous region of Madiaran. The government of Laprep has therefore asked the UN for assistance. The latter has dispatched NRF (NATO Response Force) units to deal with the emerging crisis situation. When fulfilling an operational task, a  moving column of coalition vehicles has been hit by an enemy “dirty bomb”. The unit must immediately return to its base to undergo decontamination and to have its casualties treated. A chemical reconnaissance and decontamination company is activated and the field hospital sounds the “Mascal” (Mass Casualties) alert. This was, in a nutshell, the scenario of the “Medical Man 2011” exercise, the final phase of which took place in the New Barracks in Hradec Králové, under the supervision of Major Tomáš Dědák, Chief Exercise Director.

On-the-job experience

The “Medical Man 2011” exercise falls into the final stage of a three-year training and exercise cycle of members of the Support Forces Command and directly subordinate units and

The first sight that every onlooker’s eye will probably rest on is the field hospital (FH) zone. The field hospital is based on a modular system consisting of a mixture of tents and containers, which can be interconnected into various functional units, but can also be used as standalone facilities. Its daily capacity of outpatients ranges between forty and eighty injured or sick. Two surgical teams can perform up to ten operations per day, depending of course on the type of injury. The field hospital’s capabilities also include resuscitation and reanimation. The shrill sound of the siren is an unmistakable sign of the “dirt alert”. A  few minutes later, the contaminated unit arrives. Its contaminated soldiers are first received and sorted by members of the Reception and Triage Unit of the field hospital to determine the seriousness of their injuries and treatment priority. Next, they pass through a decontamination line at the end of which they are taken over by medical and nursing personnel who specify the ward or operating theatre each of the casualties should go to. “Of course, seriously injured casualties have the highest priority, designated P1,” explains Captain Jaromír Jandora, Chief of the Troops Training Group of the Military Medical Facility in Hradec Králové, adding that there are two other priority classes, P2 and P3. “The Intensive Care Unit has four beds, the Intermediate Care Ward has five, and the number of standard care beds is seventeen,” he describes each of the modular elements of the hospital. Even a  layman can see that the field hospital’s personnel, in cooperation with CBRN specialists, provide professional medical care of the highest possible standard to their twenty or so patients. However, some may point out at the absence of an important factor commonly present in the theatre of deployment, the factor of danger. But this is not something that professionals of the Military Medical Facility in Hradec Králové are unfamiliar with. Want to have a  proof? Their mission record – UNCRO and UNTAES in Croatia (1994 – 1998); AFOR in Albania and Turkey (1999); ISAF in Afghanistan (2002 – 2003); Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003 – 2005); “Winter Race” in Pakistan (2005 – 2006); ISAF again (2007 – 2008), and yet another ISAF stint that started in January 2011 and is scheduled to continue until January 2013. “The training of new members of the Military Medical Facility has its continuity. Every additional lesson learnt is extremely valuable for us, the more so one learnt from CBRN specialists. This exercise makes us face and cope with current trends,” is a brief, but cogent assessment of the “Medical Man 2011” exercise by Colonel Jan Österreicher.
by Pavel Lang Photos by Jan Kouba

Rescue in the field hospital zone



The training is over for the NATO Multinational Military Police Battalion; the unit is facing certification in Wedrzyn, Poland, next year.

Black Bear Paw Striking
A helicopter is hovering over a school soccer field. Rotors raise clouds of dust and autumn foliage. Some 50 feet above the ground, helicopter door opens and military police personnel quickly abseil down to the ground. Arched behind the sights of automatic weapons they work their way towards the school building. An unidentified criminal has been threatening students and teachers inside with weapons for quite some time, claiming he would blow the school up.
The community leaders had no other choice than to ask for help the Multinational Military Police Battalion coincidentally stationed in proximity. A  response unit comprising Czech, Slovak and Croatian MP personnel made a forced entry into the building a  couple of minutes ago already. While the terrorist had been kept busy by a  police negotiator the unit progressively cleared the building room by room and freed some of the children and teachers. The squad that just abseiled the helicopter made use of the confusion and penetrated the school from the back. All the rest was just a  matter of seconds. The target was eliminated double quick and the rest of hostages freed. This was an episode of the Exercise Black Bear 2011 that took place in mid-September in the military area Lešť in Slovakia and its vicinity. ”Such practical demonstration gave much more to pupils than a  gamut of theoretical lessons on security. Moreover, the schoolchildren gained familiarity with equipment and tactics used by military police in individual countries,“ the schoolmaster of the evacuated primary school in Pliešovce Ms. Darina Sýkorová stated after action was over. ”Mainly boys fell for military policemen so, that they started to think of that profession as their future career.“

Battalion agreed in Prague

History of the Multinational Military Police Battalion project and its training goes back to 1999. NATO then came up with the strategy

of defence capabilities to enable deploying forces in crisis areas, their arming, equipping and resupplying to be better able to deal with the enemy. Three years later at the Prague Summit, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia agreed to contribute to deployable combat support forces by building a multinational military police battalion. Initially, Bulgaria joined the project and the Ukraine also considered participation, but they abandoned the intent. In December 2005, effort began to finalise the implementing memorandum of understanding and March 2006 saw established the steering, coordination and financial group. National MP representatives signed the implementing agreement in June 2007. Wedrzyn, Poland, was the venue in the following year to the multinational battalion’s first exercise: the Black Bear 2008. Another exercise in the series was held in September 2009 in the Březina/Vyškov Military Training Area in the Czech Republic and then in Gasinec, Croatia, twelve months later. The Multinational Military Police Battalion’s mission is to support commanders of ground units on tactical level in the domain of special police activities, having both trained personnel and appropriate equipment. Specifically, the MNMPBN is able to provide crowd and riot control, road traffic control, peace support operations, law enforcement and handling prisoners of war. It is also able to organise MP special forces operations. The MNMPBN comprises of the command and staff, individual national components,



X-ray walk-through and baggage scanners enables checking persons in a  manner that compares to stationary installations at international airports. “We had a  chance to see Military Police at work. Warriors of our mechanised battalions train some of the drills too. I found most intriguing the special demonstrations, such as airport security check. I  do  not say this, because the equipment belongs to the Czech Military Police that has this sort of capabilities,“ General Vlastimil Picek commented. “The battalion has trained for an extended period ot time and it would be a mistake not to deploy them for an operation following a successful certification, namely for training and mentoring.“ In a  training facility simulating a  railway station, protesters just attacked refugees on a train. A CRC unit was deployed to eliminate them with the support of armoured vehicles. A special group took action on the railway station premises against two refugees who threatened the escort team. VIPs became involved in the exercise Black Bear scenario in the final stage as well. According to intelligence, there was a person in the VIP vehicle supposed to carry a weapon and narcotics. “I  was highly impressed with the exercise, especially with a  view to the fact that military police from four nations were to coordinate their operations. This multinationality represents the greatest value added. Soldiers were able to practice communicating in specialist terminology in English. In addition, they increased familiarity with NATO procedures in a very natural way," Deputy Minister Šedivý said. ”NATO has focused on multinational approach for over a decade. It is one of the ways to pool capabilities or indeed to increase efficiency. I suppose therefore that the Czech Republic’s involvement in this process will intensify.“

an investigation team and logistic support. All MNMPBN components are located in their home stations; they only meet for joint training. The MNMPBN command postings are rotated among individual national components. Poland contributes a company, other nations assign platoons. In addition, they are also represented in staffs and logistic support element. The battalion structure is variable and depends on the nature of operation the unit is assigned to perform. In 2011, the MNMPBN commanding officer was Croatian MP Captain Robert Vorih. Opposing forces began their operations in exercise Black Bear 2011 by launching a rocket attack of the Slavie hut camp, where most of the MNMPBN personnel were accommodated, shortly after midnight on September 15, 2011. Later on, a  military police team assigned to evacuate AUFOR officials into a  safe location was assaulted as well. A small arms attack also occurred during negotiation between the MPs and local leaders. The ensuing firefight claimed casualties on both sides. A  Polish team that had established a  road checkpoint got assaulted with similar consequence. A helicopter was called to provide medical evacuation. As Slovaks equipped all personnel on the exercise with the MILES laser simulation system, the Exercise Director, Deputy Commander of the Slovak Military Police Colonel Vít Gabriel was able to follow and assess everything real-time. ”The last year’s exercise Black Bear in Croatia placed a greater emphasis on combat activities. We have chosen a different approach and concentrated more on typical police operations. We also decided to make use of what is

A rocket attack

a pretty unique system of shooting, tactical and training simulators available in the Lešť training area and complemented all of that with the MILES system,“ Colonel Gabriel elaborates. ”Thanks to that, we have gained a  true picture about performance of tasks and on casualties. Such evaluation was missing last year in Croatia. The Police of the Slovak Republic has been newly involved in the training as well.“

VIPs included in the play

Exercise Black Bear came to head on September 19, 2011, by a VIP day, attended by the Slovak Defence Minister Lubomír Galko and First Deputy Minister Jiří Šedivý and Chief of General Staff General Vlastimil Picek representing the Czech Republic. The guests were taken by surprise with a simulated rocket attack right at the beginning. The Military Police had to

evacuate them from the danger area towards the Družba compound that is modified for live fire training. MP demonstrated elimination of terrorists by the means of combined land/air assault. One of the dangerous combatants was eliminated by a sniper on a balcony. Another urgent request for assistance arrived. A  vehicle carrying soldiers hit an improvised explosive device in the Zvonice training facility. It is an affair for Czech Military Police officers this time. First of all, the explosion area must be secured and any imminent danger identified. The surrounding area is searched by an explosive detection dog. Lieutenant Jaroslav Hronek of the Military Police Command Olomouc wearing a heavy EOD suit is the only one allowed to approach the vehicle. He checks both the damaged car emitting massive smoke and its proximity with a  mine detector. ”We are embedded with

the Czech platoon of the Multinational Military Police Battalion and provide assistance on suspected improvised explosive devices, which has been imminent in several cases here. We seek to dispose them in the safe way to keep the unit out of harm’s way. Driving the roads we were also involved in clearing explosive roadblocks. We were also embedded with a  group that searched houses for IEDs,“ Lieutenant Hronek describes. ”We are in the process with my team of searching the explosion scene. It is not just about establishing the area is safe and that we may complete the rescue effort. The whole incident will have to be investigated properly. We therefore have to secure all traces and explosion remnants. We seek to figure out what tactics and IED initiation method the opponent had used. We modify the unit´s tactical procedures accordingly to defend against such attacks most effectively.“

experience with searching explosion scenes and collecting traces left there. In my previous job I served as a forensic specialist which is closely associated with this type of activity and so I  may build on lessons I  learnt before,“ Lieutenant Hronek describes the goings-on in the explosion area. ”We also had a chance to meet Slovak EOD personnel, but they were a part of the opposing force, our enemy. And so there has been much time to share experience yet. But I am confident the final stage of the exercise will not be that hectic and we will have some room for those affairs.“ It is not by coincidence that Czechs were assigned this area. The EOD service has been an active component of the Czech Military Police for many years and performs to very high standards. “Czech EOD personnel have practical experience from frequent disposal of ammunition found in training areas,“ Colonel Fejfar says. ”This year, we have placed an increased emphasis on international cooperation. The couple of investigators comprise a  Slovak and a  Czech. For example, a  platoon commanded by a  Croat went into action and he had teams comprising Czechs, Slovaks and Poles. We simply mixed MPs from individual national components as much as possible. In my perspective, the funds invested into this exercise were spent very effectively.“

Circle closing

Trying to mix nationalities

Drugs among officials

The vehicle is still on fire, and soldiers with extinguishers come into play. Plastic matters changing state are not really easy to extinguish. In parallel, medics arrive to provide first aid and treat casualties. Fixing extremities is most frequent. The investigation team comprises of a Slovak male MP and Czech female MP officer. They collect into plastic bags all fragments that could help investigation. Written documentation they will have to produce must also be complemented with imagery. ”Our service duties are largely similar to those performed by EOD personnel at land force units. But we have a greater

The next episode also features Czechs. We are presenting a  security and surveillance system here. A  system of cameras covers quite a wide area. It facilitates monitoring of critical infrastructure for us. Even the Slovak Defence Minister takes interest in the system. He has the whole capability described to him in detail. ”Our Military Police officers achieve the same training standards as Czechs; but obviously we do  not have the funding available for such technology,“ the Minister explains to the media. Just several hundreds metres on a mobile access control facility. That was also brought in here by Czech MPs. The mobile system comprising

”This exercise closed the notional circle of the MNMP battalion preparation. The staff has progressively attained required standard operation procedures, the knowledge of specialist terminology in English deepened as well as its practical use. Final evaluation of the exercise will only be held in November in Brno. This training series was designed for each of the national military police components to practice preparing such a  demanding exercise in their respective territories. Now we have to concentrate on meeting the CREVAL requirements. In September next year, if everything goes according to the plan, the battalion will be certified. Subsequently, it will be assigned to the Multinational Corps in Szczecin,“ Colonel Pavel Fejfar points out. ”The Czech Republic has had two representatives in the MC command headquarters already. The Corps staff will know that the Multinational Military Police Battalion has achieved its full operational capability and may deploy according to NATO requirements if necessary. Activation period is ninety days in this case. We would first move to Minsk Mazowietsky, Poland, where the unit would stage and become complete.“

by Vladimír Marek



The Czech Republic has been a part of the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS) for twelve years already
Allies, have to provide round-the-clock airspace radar surveillance and have available active weapons systems, particularly supersonic aircraft capability that is the asset able to perform these specific air missions,“ COL Rejman states. In case of an emergency in airspace, CAOC orders a pair of QRA aircraft to take off immediately (Alpha Scramble) with initial task to perform visual identification of the target. Over the territory of the Czech Republic, the operation is coordinated by the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) based in Stará Boleslav. The Čáslav AFB assigns two multirole JAS-39 Gripen fighters into continuous NATINADS QRA duty plus one aircraft as a  reserve. The machines have adequate weapon systems, being armed with 27-mm calibre Mauser BK-27 gun and seven weapon pylons to carry short-range and medium-range air-to-air missiles and a range of air-to-ground missiles, bombs and precision munitions. The Czech Gripens primarily use AIM-9M Sidewinder short-range missiles with infrared homing and AIM-120C AMRAAM medium range missiles with active radar homing. The Uedem-based CAOC also controls other QRA aircraft, including Slovak supersonic MiG-29s, German Eurofighters and Polish, Belgian and Dutch F-16s. into question at all. “Each Alfa Scramble flight is a  combat sortie. Here we do  not distinguish between important and less important cases. QRA pilots never know how the follow-on activity in the airspace may possibly escalate. He goes in one-hundred percent and may not play it just like monitoring or flight route check. Flights take place in civilian routes with a heavy traffic and the safety factor is the highest priority,“ Colonel Tománek opines. The public often asks why it is the Gripen fighters that the Czech Republic assigns to NATINADS. The brief answer is: their performance, primarily their supersonic capability makes them ideally suited to effectively provide air policing missions. The Gripen is a  fourth-generation multirole supersonic fighter that uses state-of-the-art equipment to perform specific air-to-air missions at day, night and in adverse weather conditions. And it has relevant performance parameters: maximum speed 2130 km/h, service ceiling 15 km, rate of climb over 100 m/s (the Gripen climbs to ALT 10 km in 120 seconds and 180 seconds to 14 km). The Gripen’s mate at the Čáslav AFB, the L-159 ALCA aircraft, is primarily designed for close air support. Indeed, it is quite obvious considering the name of the aircraft (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft). The ALCA performance data is: Maximum speed 935 km/h, ceiling 13 km, rate of climb 48 m/s. As a matter of fact, maximum cruising speed of commercial airliners is roughly the same as for ALCAs. For example Airbus A340-600 has max speed 917 km/h and Boeing B747-400 makes 988 km/h. The maths is easy: if the QRA Gripens are to catch up with an airplane in distress within the Czech airspace, they must, although shortly, go supersonic. And the JAS-39 Gripen is the only system operated by the Czech Air Force that has this capability. But nevertheless, the L-159 aircraft are also on standby alert! It is as part of the so-called NaPoSy or National Reinforcement System that is part of the Czech national air defence system, and serves to reinforce defence of the Czech Republic’s airspace and air defence coverage of critical defence infrastructures. And why a  pair of JAS-39 Gripen fighters? ”Tactical considerations demand the use of two machines, which is also reflected in QRA operation procedures. Single aircraft does not do anything, and four would not be affordable,“ the Čáslav AFB deputy commander elaborates. One of the key milestones in the Czech Republic’s integration to NATINADS took place in 2005 as JAS-39 Gripen fighters replaced the obsolete MiG-21MF aircraft. Pilots Petr Mikulenka and Michael Borůvka landed with first two Gripens bearing distinctive Czech insignia and Czech Air Force inscriptions at Čáslav AFB on April 26, 2005. The lease contract for twelve single-seat and two double-seat supersonic aircraft valued at CZK 19.65 billion expires on September 30, 2015.

Scrambled within 15 minutes!
Exactly at 09:46hrs the squeaking sound of alarm cuts off silence in the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) building at Pardubice airfield. The Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Uedem, Germany, has just given alpha scramble to Czech QRA pilots because the loss of communication with a commercial Airbus A340-600 plane flying from London, UK, to the capital of United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi.

Annual average: alpha ten times

Fifteen minutes! That is the limit to take off for a pair of QRA JAS-39 Gripen fighters that are assigned to serve in the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS). Both pilots from the 211th Tactical Squadron home stationed at Čáslav AFB manage two minutes earlier than the limit requires. They have visual contact with the Airbus at 09:54 hrs. A  QRA operations proceeds strictly according to defined rules. A minute later they successful establish radio communication on the international emergency frequency 121.50 MHz. The A340600 leaves the Czech airspace nine minutes after ten o’clock and the pair of Gripens return to their base.

Policing single airspace collectively

Given the necessity to provide continuous defence coverage of national airspace both in peacetime and in crisis, the nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreed to establish a joint integrated system called the NATINADS. Assigning forces and assets of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic to NATINADS was endorsed by both Chambers of the Parliament of the Czech Republic in December 2000. NATINADS encompasses 24/7/365 policing of national airspaces in European NATO nations in a  single system. ”Each member state is responsible for national airspace defence and for providing airspace picture to the superior NATO

echelon,“ Deputy Commander 21st Air Force Base Čáslav Colonel Ondřej Rejman describes. In the Czech Republic’s case, that component is the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem in the North of Germany, whose area of operation spans the territory of Benelux to Baltic states. NATINADS state parties must meet certain essential criteria. ”Their command control system must be compatible with other NATO

Gripen fighter pilots perform some ten live alpha scrambles a  year on average. The year 2005 saw the record number: eighteen. In the following two years, they were scrambled live ten times each. The year 2009 was exceptional with the deployment for Baltic Air Policing over Baltic States, when alpha scrambled them eight times in four months, which represented the number of live alphas all previous nineteen contingents from thirteen states had in aggregate. ”I should say in this respect the number of alpha scramble takeoffs is not a fully representational number, because it includes only QRA action on the target. In reality, there are many more live alphas. In many cases fighters progressively transition into extended time limits or are called off. But that does not alter the fact that QRA pilots are ready in the cockpit to take off immediately,“ Colonel Rejman explains. Apart from that, Čáslav-based fighter pilots are also given Tango Scrambles, which is training flight for them to prove their professional preparedness. It follows the same procedures as Alfa Scramble, but they do  not perform NATINADS related tasks. What they often do  is one-versus-one aerial fighting. Tango is called one or two times a day. Only pilot with required qualifications may serve in NATINADS. “The key condition is to successfully complete the final testing of piloting techniques supervised by an instructor, when pilots have to respond to crisis situations being confronted either military or commercial airplane,“ Deputy Commander 21st AFB / Tactical Wing Commander Colonel Petr Tománek explains. Despite the reason for QRA scramble is often just a  ”commonplace“ loss of communication between the aircrew and air traffic management, the slightest underestimation does not come

by Pavel Lang Photos by Jan Kouba




The Pilot with Two Lives
The airplane was plummeting down to the earth, picking up speed with every meter of its descent. All of a sudden, its cockpit canopy burst like a walnut shell. The pilot continued falling for a while, but then his parachute automatically deployed. The swinging helpless body at its end was reminiscent of a clock pendulum.
This was perhaps the toughest experience of one of the Czechoslovak airmen serving in Great Britain during World War II, member of the 312th Fighter Squadron Antonín Liška. At that time, his unit was operating off the southern shore of France, its mission being to prevent the enemy from conducting aerial reconnaissance. “The ground control reported an enemy reconnaissance aircraft to us. We were flying at 10,000 m. According to vectoring information I was getting, I should already have been at the enemy’s tail, but there were heavy clouds all around and I  couldn’t see him. Moreover, my oxygen bottle broke down and I started feeling symptoms of hypoxemia. At the same time, the enemy probably attacked me,” Antonín Liška recalled. “I tilted the airplane forward to reduce altitude, but I did not have time enough to throttle down. The airplane went into a dive, almost a  freefall, and kept picking up speed. When I  regained consciousness a  few seconds later, I  found out I  could not control the elevators. I was trying to yank the canopy open and leave the cockpit, but it was not possible. Fortunately, the aircraft disintegrated during its dive, and I  fell out, still strapped to my seat. In the process, I bumped my head against the windscreen and lost consciousness again. I  came to three days later, in a  hospital. They told me that my parachute had miraculously opened and I, still in the seat, landed on the beach, just a short distance from the sea.” units being formed abroad. So we decided to go for it and I crossed the border. As a soldier, I wanted to fulfill the words of the oath. However, it was my wife who was the hero, not me. In spite of all hardships she knew she would have to go through, she agreed with my decision,” commented Antonín Liška after the war. Because of lack of airplanes and the events unfolding too fast, he did not make it to the cockpit in the Polish Air Force. On September 19, 1939, while retreating together with the so-called “Czech Legion”, he was taken prisoner by the Red Army. Following an intervention of the Czechoslovak exile government in France, the group of Czechoslovak aviators was released and dispatched to France via Istanbul, Egypt and India. The voyage took three months and France had been defeated in the meantime. The ship carrying our pilots thus changed its course directly to Great Britain. „In Odessa, we boarded the Soviet MV Spanentia and headed for Istanbul. From there we proceeded to Egypt, but at that time the war was already raging in full force. We could not sail directly to Europe, so we headed for India. However, we missed a ship that was supposed to take us to Canada in Bombay, and we thus proceeded around Africa to England,” described Antonín Liška. Following a  short period of training, his first posting was with the famous British 1st Fighter Squadron. He began flying on Hurricane IIs; later, when he was transferred to the 312th Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron, he flew a  Spitfire Mk II or Vb, clocking close to 200 hours of stick time. His most frequent mission was to escort bombers during raids over Germany.

A Dairyman and a Parquet Layer

A Trip around the World

Antonín Liška was born on July 14, 1911, in Hromnice, in the region of Pilsen. Having graduated from the Military Academy in Hranice and its Aviation Department in Prostějov, he was posted to the 1st Aviation Regiment of T.G. Masaryk in Hradec Králové. Shortly after getting married, in July 1939, he left for Poland, leaving his wife in the Protectorate, as she was unable to go with him because of her pregnancy. She was in for hard times. The Gestapo kept interrogating her incessantly and she was imprisoned for more than a  year. “I  met a  friend in Prague who told me there were Czechoslovak

After the sortie in the course which he was seriously injured (described above), he went through a lengthy and demanding convalescence. While in the hospital, he wrote an account of his war experiences, which was to become the basis of his postwar book, “How to scare away the death”. It was published by the “Naše Vojsko” Publishing House in 1983. Having healed, Antonín Liška attended a training course for air traffic controllers, was subsequently seconded to the Observer Corps, and finally attended the Transport Command College. He then worked as a liaison officer at the RAF Transport Command. When the war was over, he returned to Czechoslovakia and joined the Air Transport Regiment in Kbely, first as its Deputy CO, later as its commander. While flying transport aircraft, his passengers included, among others, Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk. In 1949, he was fired from the armed forces without being given any reason. He worked as a car salesman or a milk van driver. “Then a friend of mine talked me into becoming a parquet layer. However, this

work is very hard and I  began feeling my old war injuries. I applied for a draughtsman’s position in a metallurgical enterprise. I was eventually transferred to Škoda Works as a salesman. At that time, I  also taught English in the workers’ school,” related Antonín Liška. Although a  member of the Association of Fighters against Fascism, he was allowed to attend discussions with young people only in 1968. However, he lived to see his full rehabilitation only after November 1989. At that time he was also promoted to the general’s rank and became an honorary citizen of Pilsen. His advanced age notwithstanding, he kept supporting the Pilsen Aero Club in every possible way. He was a  member of the Czech Association of Freedom Fighters as well. On Saturday, July 16, 2011, Antonín Liška’s home village of Hromnice will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of his birth. At the same time, an exhibition commemorating the World War II veteran will be opened in the City Hall of Pilsen, and remain open until August 5, 2011.
Written by: Vladimír Marek Photos: archives of the magazine, Military History Archive



with Czech medical specialists. A joint CzechUS staff developed exercise operations play based on an assumption that there was a terrorist group operating in the area of interest that had set up a  base to pursue trafficking in narcotics and weapons. The task was to locate and eliminate them. The Americans also tried drops from the Mi-17 multirole helicopter in the following days, and said it was a pleasant surprise for them. Indeed, the Hips have proven excellent in numerous conflicts around the globe. lacking practical experience. Without practising and practical use, knowledge gained at schools and in courses gets rusty quick. That was confirmed by a Vyškov-based interpreter who stood ready to assist on communication breakdowns. But those practically never came up and minor difficulties were resolved practically in collaboration. inoperational. IR systems were unable to detect them either. Wasp attacks came for a  change, especially when one of the soldiers got seated directly on a wasp’s nest. Everyone first expected medics to step in, but the raging insects only managed to pierce gloves in two spots. A  discussion developed about the ways to defend against massive insect attacks that cannot be ruled out in countries where operational deployments take place. This effective weapon was popularly used Vietcong fighters for instance. Following a careful retreat before the hymenopterans, combined teams set out to perform joint reconnaissance in the field. The sharp sunshine created a  game of light and shadows for soldiers to lose themselves at times. The Czech battledresses and kits proved visually more effective in terms camouflage and concealment. In addition to maintaining absolute silence, it was critical to observe the rules for moving in a potentially hostile area, for example avoid well-lit clearings in the shade on the sides. That made the movement longer and increased wear. The camelbacks were emptying progressively but a good spirit prevailed. A rematch was planned for the evening, this time in American football.

Theory and practice

The training exercise could even appear boring at times of staff activities and junior

A Game of Light and Shadows
Silhouettes in battledresses soundlessly shuffled among trees and communicated with gestures. Scorching heat was exacerbated by heavy evaporation after recent rains. Czech and U.S. servicepeople practised field reconnaissance jointly.
Joint field exercises training the Texas National Guard (TNG) and Czech Armed Forces personnel have taken place for a number of years. There is a numerous community with Czech or Moravian descent in Texas, primarily resident in the environs of the city of Waco. They have excellent relations with the US National Guard there. The Lone Star state presently mainly grows rice, but it is historically known for breeding cattle and for romanticism of the Wild West along the US-Mexican border, which eventually gave the English-Spanish name to the exercise: Joint Corral. unit comprises full-time professionals in command and called-up reservists. Their partners in the Libava Military Training Area from August 15-26, 2011, were fifty members of the 1st Reconnaissance Company the 102nd Reconnaissance Battalion from Prostějov. Collaboration between professionals and reservists was excellent as many US personnel had been downrange for operations several times. Nevertheless, they were faced with a  range of novelties. Forty-three Americans arrived to the Czech Republic light so that weapons, communications and other materiel were provided by the Czech Armed Forces. They were also able to try out Mod.58 rifles. Although it is really not a  cutting-edge type of weapon, the Czech rifle won recognition too. US warriors namely valued its light weight, reliability and easy operation in live firing. Additional Czech-made weapons, specifically the CZ 75 Phantom pistols and

In the air and on the ground

The command headquarters and garrison of the 1st Cavalry Battalion the 124th Cavalry Regiment 56th Infantry Brigade the Texas National Guard are stationed at the city of Waco. Same as with or United States National Guard forces, the

Falcon large-calibre sniper rifles also ended up with very good marks. The exercise comprised multiple phases. Upon initial familiarisation with the materiel and exercise play, theoretical prepping followed on tactics, comms and medical. Live shooting was up next. Combat medics formed a  dedicated group. They came to share their operational experience

Fighting over a settlement with the combined Opposing Force (OPFOR), especially in defence of ”the mosque” at Stará Voda, involved most action on the exercise. Raven unmanned aerial vehicle used by both nations’ armed forces on operations was also employed this time for battlefield surveillance and control. Minor problems arose communicating in English from time to time, especially with those

commander training. Standard field orientation procedures however were impeded by wild nature, labyrinthine naturally seeding bushes and high grass that provided ideal workplace for snipers and for ambushes. Everybody was able to operate a compass and make drawings. No one played the high technology game. A  pen, paper and map were the certainty that no failure or cut-off could render

The Czechs won the soccer game before, but the bear-like figures of some Americans foreboded a tough game.

By Martin Koller and 1LT Kateřina Ramil Photos by Martin Koller, 1LT Kateřina Ramil and PFC Roman Štarha



The Vyškov-based electronic warfare and reconnaissance section seeks to develop a single concept of sniper training

Not just about the bull’s eye
“Temperature twelve, humidity eighty-seven. Speed seven metres per second, dropping,“ the soldier standing on the fire line reported holding a device that looked like hi-tech watch. A group of camouflaged snipers responded by starting to adjust the sights on their rifles using knives and screwdrivers. A threeweek sniper course, organised in September earlier this year by the Electronic Warfare and Reconnaissance Section from Vyškov, has just swung into its second half.
”We are basically the only official sniper course organised in the Czech Armed Forces. We hold it two times a  year. It is very demanding organisation-wise, namely in terms of providing the necessary facilities and sizeable quantity of ammunition. This is the fourth edition. Each year, we are required to train roughly one hundred personnel. Completing the course is a  hard requirement with half of them to go for an operational deployment. Snipers were previously trained primarily in marksmanship and we seek to embrace the whole specialism at its breadth. We do not focus only on reconnaissance units, the Rapid Deployment Brigade and 7th Mechanised Brigade, but indeed all units of the Czech Armed Forces. Now we have here for a course the members of airport security teams and even one rifleman from the Castle Guard,“ the course commander Sergeant First Class Jiří Horák explains. ”There is a selection procedure every year for service personnel from all units. Applicants are required to have a clear criminal record, at least two years of service and excellent physical training standards. The exam involves topography, communications and other specialties. There is no time for such stuff on the course. The applicants have to prove they have mastered the weapon and basic marksmanship. It also involves fire under stress and essential knowledge to prevent that people are unable to establish radio communication or get lost in forest.“

the commander’s forward eye, same as reconnaissance. But in most instances, the commanders do not know what to do with them, so they assign them into formations as machine gun. And that is pity,“ Jiří Horák explains. ”There is naturally a great difference between police and military sniping. Police snipers shoot over substantially shorter distances, and they have to hit targets with absolute precision. For us hurting the target oftentimes does the trick, because we keep busy the opponent’s personnel evacuating the target. But that does not mean that Czech Police snipers would not be interested in the sniper course in Vyškov.“

Collaborating with experts

Tactics is eighty percent

Jiří Horák has worked as an instructor for three years. Before that, he served as a  sniper with the Czech Army 102nd Reconnaissance Battalion and deployed twice in that assignment for operations in Afghanistan. He has also completed a gamut of sniper courses, including police sniper courses. Thirteen course attendees have been through shooting basics and zeroing in their rifles. They have performed alignment themselves under specialist supervision. They started practical shooting at one-hundred metres, and the range increases incrementally. At this point, they are shooting at four to five hundred metres distance. The trainees also underwent tactical movements and basics of camouflage and concealment, including appropriate camouflage, locating, searching and other reconnaissance activities. They are all equipped with own rifles; SVD Dragunov is the prevalent type. Approximately sixty percent of the time is dedicated to shooting; the remainder is allocated for other activities. The snipers fire roughly five hundred rounds each in the three weeks. ”Nevertheless that does not mean we would underestimate tactics, as it stands for eighty percent of our mission success. It all starts already on insertion. In a pair and with all materiel and the rifle, they have to cover pretty long distances. They often wait even for several days gathering intelligence and information. Only then they can fire and follow the same difficult way back to the pick-up point. In military sniping, it may often be a single shot to decide everything. The biggest problem however is that most commanders are unable to make a full use of snipers’ potential. That is what we always hear debriefing current or former trainees regarding their operational and training experiences. Snipers are

The course is particularly demanding by its intensity. Both theoretical and practical lessons run until late in the evening. The trainees are kept under continuous physical and metal pressure. They have to embrace many tactical drills associated with movement, camouflage and tactics itself. There is a range of activities snipers can do for training. There are a number of enthusiasts in the Czech Armed Forces, who seek to move this subject forward. But units run that type training differently. And that is what the Vyškov-based Electronic Warfare and Reconnaissance Section would like to change and attain a single concept. In addition to the basic courses, the organisers consider launching advanced courses. In such case, the course would involve a tactical play encompassing all missions through to withdrawal from the area. According to MSG Horák, it is not important the course trainees are snipers or senior riflemen. Both specialties have common essentials, which enables employing seasoned senior riflemen as snipers. Identifying good snipers is not easy at all. Everyone is different; a good marksman should have enough patience. The job also requires a  sustained mental resilience and physical stamina. They should be open-minded individuals able to memorise much information and communicate them correctly. The course organisers have a  very close cooperation with Sellier Bellot ammunition manufacturer, with the Česká zbrojovka and Meopta Přerov companies. Staff from those firms hold specialist lectures and lend them newest products. In case of Meopta company, the cooperation primarily focuses on design of optical sights and observation binoculars, which the trainees may try out directly at the range. It is no problem to mount

state-of-the-art optical sights on SVD Dragunov using standard rails. The ammunition used also affects mission performance. It used to happen in the past that poor-quality Bulgarian-made cartridges were procured for Dragunov rifles. People had hard times achieving the required score. Machinegun ammo is presently used as the best of the worse options. Sellier Bellot cartridges are fired from calibre 308 sniper rifles. It is outstanding ammunition competitive to cutting-edge foreign products and is used in the course too. ”I  believe previously we had a  number of excellent marksmen as a  nation. That is indeed proven by Czech sport achievements in the Olympic Games for instance. It was because the Svazarm (Association for Cooperation with the Military) was active here and the marksmanship basis was quite broad. There is nothing like that anymore. But nevertheless I  believe there is a high number of highly capable people,“ MSG Horák says. “I  do  not know whether the time is ripe for replacing the Dragunov rifles. You have to ask someone else. In its days, it was and perhaps still is an excellent weapon, as we like to coin it: ”soldier-proof”. It endures a lot. But the state-of-the-art sniping technology is yet somewhere else. In my view, the most appropriate for snipers would perhaps be the Accuracy International rifle, and Heckler & Koch 417 could be the best choice for senior riflemen.“
by Vladimír Marek




A Too Proud Son of the Chodsko Region
Josef Buršík came from Starý Postřekov, a village in the region of Chodsko, and he was very proud of his extraction. He kept reminding everyone of it, no matter where he was in the world. It was probably the famous border-guarding history and tradition of the people of the region that did not allow him to dodge even the greatest danger.

His father, a  small farmer, made some extra money by building factory chimneys. Josef Buršík had five other siblings. Although coming from a relatively poor family, he graduated from a  secondary school in Domažlice and attended a state secondary vocational school in Pilsen for two years. This was also where he accomplished his compulsory military service as a  member of the 18th Infantry Regiment. Then he worked as a  construction site supervisor for Stříbrský, one of the companies that were building border fortifications in East Bohemia. As a  reservist NCO, he and his regiment were mobilized in the autumn of 1938 and deployed along the border between Falknov (today’s Sokolov) and Cheb. He returned home, to the German-occupied Sudetenland, which had already become a  part of Bavaria in the meantime, after the Munich Agreement. He had to put up with tremendous disillusionment. Moreover, he did not have any job and had to accept one with a German company in Nuremberg. He was sure he would have to deal with his situation in one way or the other. In March 1939, the Germans occupied the remaining territory and established the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. That was the final

deciding point. One of the options was to leave the country and go abroad where he had heard a  Czechoslovak exile army had begun to form. In the summer of 1939, Josef Buršík crossed the Polish border near Moravská Ostrava. Just like many other émigrés, he joined the Czechoslovak unit in Male Bronowice, which was then being formed. After Germany had invaded Poland, he retreated, together with others, to the east. He later recalled his experience in his memoirs: “The Krosno railway junction showed us horrors of the war in full for the first time. Enemy bombers destroyed the railway building, roundhouse, freight cars laden with flour; there were torn telephone and power lines hanging from poles.” In Tarnopol, Buršík was one of the Czechoslovak soldiers with machine guns, who took part in the city’s air defense. However, at that time everybody knew the situation was hopeless. On September 20th, the Czechoslovak unit encountered Red Army troops who had already been advancing into Poland from the east for four days. Buršík and others were interned. Early in 1942, he joined the 1st Czechoslovak Field Battalion in the rank of corporal. He attended a  course for

Josef Buršík in internation camp in the USSR

reserve officers there. He was initially earmarked as a suitable candidate for an airdrop in the Protectorate; he was assigned to Group S-2 and took part in a parachute training course. However, he had to terminate the training due to developments on the Soviet-German front, rejoin the1st Czechoslovak Field Battalion, and leave for Sokolovo. Before doing so, he had been promoted to Warrant Officer. He underwent his baptism of fire in March 1943, in trenches off Sokolovo. He fought on the other side of the Mzha River, his platoon a part of the 1st Company under First Lieutenant Otakar Jaroš. “The CO later withdrew my platoon to the second line of defense, around the church, where the toughest fighting was taking place. A  handful of soldiers were desperately defending themselves against enemy armour, using anti-tank grenades. Moans of injured or


dying fellow-fighters could be heard all around in the din of explosions and shots.” He was injured, but he was one of the few lucky soldiers of the first company who survived and managed to withdraw to the other bank of the river. He received the Czechoslovak War Cross 1939 and the Soviet Order of the Red Star for gallantry in battle. He was given command of a company of T-34 medium tanks in the newly formed 1st Czechoslovak Independent Brigade, and took part in the Battle of Kiev in November 1943 with it. He distinguished himself again. His tank company, supported by submachine gunners, advanced at the head of the 1st Battalion along the Zhitomir road toward the centre of Kiev. In the meantime, Sochor’s submachine gunners attacked the Germans defending the bridge spanning a railway line from behind, thus permitting the tanks accompanied by infantry to penetrate farther down the streets and mop up each apartment block. “Our attack was unfolding quickly, but our further advance was hampered by strong resistance of enemy defense positions centered on the premises of the “Bolshevik” factory. Fortunately, two girls came running to my tank and told me where the German strongpoints and positions were located,” recalled Josef Buršík when talking about the heavy fighting. “I ordered three of my tanks to stop and shell the surroundings of the “Bolshevik” factory. With my tank, named “Jan Žižka”, I crashed through the factory’s gate, destroyed a half-track laden with explosives and together with submachine gunners of Warrant Officer Bažina neutralized the remaining pockets of resistance.” It was precisely for this operation that he received the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Following the formation of the 1st Czechoslovak Tank Brigade, he was appointed the commander of its second battalion and took part in the Carpathian-Dukla and Ostrava operations. He ended the war with the rank of staff captain. When Czechoslovakia had been liberated, he decided to proceed with his military career. As early as in the autumn of 1945, he left for the Soviet Union to attend the Military Academy of Armoured and Mechanized Troops. However, a  medical check revealed his left lung was infected with tuberculosis, and he was thus forced to suspend his studies. He underwent treatment in the High Tatras and Jablůnkov, and later held positions of Deputy Commanding Officers in several tank brigades. In 1949, he decided to leave the army, but he was arrested soon thereafter and sentenced to ten years in prison. An appeal only extended his prison term by another four years. In spite of his serious health condition caused by tuberculosis, he managed to escape and cross the border to Bavaria. He lived in Germany until 1955 and then moved to the United Kingdom. In 1968, he declaimed the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Army, returning all his wartime Soviet decorations, including the Hero of the Soviet Union, to the Soviet embassy in London. He was rehabilitated in 1990 and promoted to the rank of Major General. He died in June 2002 in Northampton, United Kingdom.
by: Vladimír Marek Photos by Central Military Archive, Military History Archive

Heroes of USSR: Antonín Sochor, Josef Buršík and Richard Tesařík

Intensive infantry training at Buzuluk

Battle at Sokolovo, as depicted in diorama Museum Sokolovo

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