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Právo: Frequency of US army’s Czech transits to rise

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Prague, Nov 3 (CTK) – The U.S. military wants its convoys to cross the Czech Republic more frequently than now, and it will seek Prague’s consent in this respect, General Ben Hodges, the U.S. Army commander in Europe, told Czech journalists on Wednesday, daily Pravo reported on Thursday.

He said he expects bilateral agreement on the plan to be reached smoothly, judging by the U.S. military’s previous Czech transits.

The USA is interested in Czech units’ higher participation in the transits than in the past, Hodges said.

In 2017, the first such transit will be that of a convoy of armoured vehicles heading from the Vilseck base, Bavaria, to northeast Poland.

Six months later, the convoy will be returning to Bavaria while a new one will set off along the same route for Poland.

Further transits are scheduled for June and July in connection with NATO exercises in the Baltics and in Romania and Bulgaria, respectively.

Hodges who previously complained of bureaucracy unnecessarily slowing down the movement of NATO convoys across Europe, proposed quite a radical solution this summer – a military “Schengen area” for NATO members, Pravo writes.

It cites Hodges as saying it takes weeks to gain a simple convoy transit permit, since different conditions must be met in each of the countries’ involved.

Refugees move faster across Europe than military convoys, Hodges said.

He said Russia moves its military convoys much faster across its territory, which thwarts NATO’s capability of preventing a pending crisis, Pravo writes.

Countries such as Poland and Lithuania have taken a step in the right direction by reducing the period needed for issuing the permit from a few weeks to a few days, the paper cites Hodges as saying.

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