Vyskov, South Moravia, Oct 3 (CTK) – The first voluntary exercise of the Czech military, in which 15 volunteers will be trained for six weeks, started in Vyskov on Monday.

The volunteers will learn combat technique basics, firing an assault riffle as well as first aid and reading maps.

They will attend the course along with more than 50 applicants for active reserves membership.

Vyskov also welcomed on Monday more than 550 new recruits who would become professional soldiers after a three-month course.

Participants in the voluntary exercise should create a military reserve for emergency cases.

So far, some 900 people of all age categories have expressed interest in participation in the voluntary exercise. Though the legal age limit is from 18 to 60 years, even older people wanted to enroll on it.

“The interest was a pleasant surprise,” Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said.

At the end, 14 men and one woman joined the October exercise.

Some applicants did not pass health tests, while others were not in a sufficiently good shape. Some people decided to take part in next exercises instead.

“This is a pilot and trial exercise. We expect more people to be involved in it next year,” said the Defence Ministry’s press section.

The other exercise is scheduled for early January and then it should be held regularly once in six weeks, Jiri Studnicny, commander of the basic training centre, said.

The volunteers will train both in the Vyskov barracks and in the field. The programme will focus on the protection of strategic defence facilities, survival under difficult conditions and tackling emergency situations during an attack on the base, Studnicny added.

Holding voluntary military exercises was introduced by an amendment to the defence law which took effect in July.

The Defence Ministry and the military originally wanted to introduce conscription due to the increased security tension in the world, but they changed their mind after a discussion with politicians.

Stropnicky said on Monday he would like the debate to be reopened and that he would be considering resuming the national service as well.