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Military to buy ammunition, modernise itself this year

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Prague, Jan 3 (CTK) – The Czech military plans to buy ammunition and some materiel and to prepare large modernisation projects after years of shrinking budgets, Chief of Staff Josef Becvar has told CTK.
In the course of the year, the military will draft a proposal of the foreign missions in which Czech soldiers will take part in 2017 and 2018.
In the first six months, the Czech military will be a part of the joint unit of the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) that will be in charge of military alertness on behalf of the EU.
“A stress will be laid on the purchase of materiel and ammunition and on the administrative preparation of large projects in 2016,” Becvar said.
Next year, a decision is to be made on the deliverer of multipurpose helicopters for several billion crowns, that are to replace the outdated Mi-24s.
The winner of the delayed bid for the Mobile Air Defence Radar (MADR) for about 3.5 billion crowns may be finally chosen.
Thanks to a growing budget, the Defence Ministry and military command can plan higher expenditures. Compared with previous years, a financial spree awaits the defence sector.
This is largely associated with the worsened security development in the world. The approved budget for 2016 plans the expenditures of 47.8 billion crowns or four billion more than in the past year. The rise is to continue in the years to come.
However, critics still say this is not enough.
The growing budget is to help replace the equipment, ammunition and materiel, but also the personnel.
In 2015, the number of soldiers rose by about 1000.
“For next year, the recruitment target must be set at about 2000. We also want to reinforce the active reserve corps where we want to enlist another 300 persons,” Becvar said.
The increase in recruitment is to be facilitated by a package of laws that was already passed by the Chamber of Deputies and is yet to be debated by the Senate at the beginning of the year.
They are to take effect as of July.
This year, too, Czech soldiers will take part in allied operations abroad. The participation in Afghanistan will be the strongest contribution. Czechs are protecting the coalition Bagram air base, training Afghan helicopters pilots and working as doctors.
Czech troops are also in Mali, in the Sinai and the Balkans.
The Czech contribution to the fight against Islamic extremists in Mali is to be increased. In spring, 25 members of special forces are to leave for the country. In sending them, the Czech Republic wants to alleviate the burden of France that wants to deploy its troops elsewhere in its fight against terrorism.
Over 700 Czechs troops will be set aside for the needs of the V4 joint unit.
The Czech military is also to help in Iraq and local Kurds in their fight against Islamic State. It plans a delivery of 6500 assault rifles to them.
($1=24.728 crowns)

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