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Some MPs challenge promotion of first female general

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Prague, May 4 (CTK) – Some Czech lawmakers have challenged the planned promotion of Colonel Lenka Smerdova to the rank of general as the first woman in Czech history, arguing that she has not met the relevant criteria and recommending that President Milos Zeman should not appoint her on May 8.

Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar stands by Smerdova’s nomination.

Opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy Jana Cernochova objected at a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies’ defence committee on Thursday that Smerdova has not completed the General Staff’s course at the Vyskov Defence University, south Moravia, or any other similar course, and that the nomination has harmed her.

“You have written her off in the military. It is a masculine environment that is uncompromising,” Cernochova said, referring to the General Staff that nominated Smerdova.

Government ANO deputy Bohuslav Chalupa said he does not rejoice at the proposed promotion of the first female general either.

“Soldiers feel doubts about the step. I understand that it is a political signal, but I don’t find it appropriate,” Chalupa said.

Opposing the critics, Becvar said Smerdova is studying the General Staff’s course now.

There are about 3,000 women in the Czech military, making up 13 percent of all soldiers. “Why should not one woman be among the 28 generals?” Becvar asked.

The proposal needs the signature of President Milos Zeman, who will appoint new generals within the May 8 Victory celebration.

“I do not know whether the president will sign the promotion decree,” Becvar said.

Cernochova said Zeman should not sign it.

She and Chalupa called it a mistake that the military intelligence chief, Jan Beroun, is not among the nominees for the general’s rank.

“I consider it a big mistake,” Chalupa said, while Cernochova spoke of international shame.

Smerdova, 52, an adviser to Becvar, started her professional career in the personnel field. After 2001, she assisted in professionalising the Czech military. She headed the military’s recruitment department and later a whole section. She still focuses on the personnel agenda.

“Thanks to her successful supervision of staff recruitment, thousands of newcomers have joined the military. Her successful work in this area has mainly been visible in the past three years when the admission of new soldiers was successful in spite of a strong competition and minimal unemployment on the Czech labour market,” Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said recently, referring to Smerdova.

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