Prague, Jan 13 (CTK) – The Czech military lacks some 500 drivers of lorries and armoured vehicles, and this is why it is reviving driving schools to train the personnel, but it is short of other professions as well, daily Pravo writes yesterday.
It adds that in the past it was possible to gain a driving licence during the compulsory military service. However, after the army turned professional in 2004, it stopped training drivers.
Now, it has decided to return to this practice since it needs drivers with a C licence for heavy vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes.
If an applicant with a B driving licence passes the tests and is willing to drive a lorry, the military will enable him to get the C licence, Colonel Lenka Smerdova, chief of the military recruitment service, told Pravo.
She added that this would be one of the benefits for the applicants for professional military service since a driving course would cost about 20,000 crowns. The soldiers who have already got a licence for heavy vehicles, are entitled to a special recruitment bonus of up to 80,00 crowns, the paper adds.
Apart from drivers, the Czech military needs more doctors, mainly in garrison surgeries, cooks, aviation technicians and mechanics. Moreover, the Prague Castle Guard is short of some 20 soldiers. The main reasons are enough job opportunities in the capital and strict admission criteria, such as to be 180-188 cm tall and have no overweight, Pravo points out.
The General Staff wants some 2000 newcomers to be recruited for the military a year, which is not an easy task at the time of a relatively low unemployment. Besides, the police and fire corps are interested in the same professions and they may compete with the military in their recruitment, Pravo writes.
This is why the military offers high recruitment bonuses to newcomers with a demanded qualification that can vary according to the number of years for which they sign a job contract, it adds.
Smerdova says some 240 people apply for military professions a week, but only one in 10 passes physical tests.
“Last year, we admitted 1868 newcomers. To reach this figure, we had to address 8700 people of whom we shortlisted 5800 for the competition,” Smerdova told Pravo.
The General Staff hopes that the number of applicants who do not pass the test will decrease after a new health decree takes effect, softening some requirements. As of the middle of 2016, it would be allowed to admit people with some allergies, short-sightedness of up to three dioptres and hypertension, Pravo writes.
The military has already lowered its requirements on physical exercises, it adds.
The average age of people who seek jobs in the military is 27 years, while 98 percent of applicants are men. Last year, 47 women joined Prague army. The oldest newcomer was 46 years old.
According to the strategic defence documents, the Czech armed forces should comprise 26,000 soldiers, but they have only 22,000 at present, including 400 military police and intelligence officers. About 1000 soldiers annually leave the professional service for various reasons, Pravo writes.