Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Czech reconstruction team's last members return from Afghanistan

22 February 2013

Prague, Feb 21 (CTK) - The last 59 members of the Czech provincial reconstruction team (PRT) that worked in Afghanistan's Logar province from March 2008 returned to their homeland Thursday.

"The biggest threat for us was shelling of the base. During our stay we faced about 128 missiles," said Colonel Josef Kopecky, commander of the 10th Czech PRT unit that spent six months in Logar.

Kopecky recalled that one Czech soldier was heavily injured in a missile attack against the Shank U.S. base last September.

Apart from insurgent attacks, the 300-member Czech PRT unit faced desertion by Afghan soldiers.

Kopecky said the problem with Afghan soldiers was that some of them were illiterate and often about one-fifth of them were not present to training although they had no permission to leave.

But Kopecky said he was rather optimistic about the situation in Afghanistan.

"They have their own security forces, the police, the military... They have their self-rule bodies and a functional government. We will see how they will cope with it," Kopecky said.

Czech chief-of-staff Petr Pavel said the security situation in Logar has been worsening.

At present, a Czech is preparing the transport of military materiel and equipment from Shank to the Czech Republic.

Afterwards only a Czech military advisory team of up to 60 soldiers will operate in Logar, helping train one of the battalions of the Afghan military.

A similar Czech team will be in the Wardak province.

Pavel said about 390 Czech troops are now deployed in Afghanistan and their number will probably fall to 300 by the end of the year. The number of Czech troops may be reduced even more because other NATO allies are withdrawing their soldiers more quickly, he said.

During its five-year mission, the Czech provincial reconstruction team completed 141 reconstruction projects and almost 2500 soldiers served in it.

Czech soldiers in Logar were in charge of the training of Afghan security forces. They also ensured security for the work of civilian experts. The civilian experts focused on the construction of schools, hospitals and civil service facilities in Logar. They also managed water projects.

The Czech PRT invested about 300 million crowns in developmental and humanitarian projects in the Logar province.

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