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Czech reservists number rising faster than expected

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Prague, Feb 14 (CTK) – The Czech military had 2,357 members of active reserves (AZ) at the beginning of February, which is some 900 more than a year ago, so their number is rising faster than the original plans expected, the army command representatives told the lower house defence committee on Wednesday.

The military plans to organise the Hradba 2018 (Rampart) exercise for active reserves in April, which will follow up a similar exercise from 2016. Some 1,400 reservists are to participate in it. They will train the protection of strategic defence facilities, cooperation with police and border guarding.

The military would like to have at least 5,000 AZ members by 2025.

The plans reckoned with about 1,900 reservists by the end of last year, while the military had 2,266 then, according to the General Staff’s figures. Further reservists joined the VZ at the beginning of this year. They must yet undergo a training in Vyskov, south Moravia.

Chief of Staff Josef Becvar welcomed the extension of active reservists and public interest in them. He said he believed that the military would reach 5,000 AZ members earlier than in 2025.

Some experts point out that this is the minimum number, while the Czech military would need considerably more.

Part of the AZ should complete combat units, while others form territorial units to protect strategic buildings in an emergency situation. The government can also deploy them during natural disasters, such as floods, and in case of other threats.

The military command is convinced that the recruitment of active reservists was so successful thanks to legislative changes that took effect in 2016, and “a change in the climate” in society that started paying more attention to security issues.

Defence committee chairwoman Jana Cernochova (Civic Democrats, ODS) expressed support for active reserves and their development, on behalf of other MPs as well.

According to the General Staff’s statistics, the highest share of VZ members are men aged from 31 to 45 years and many of them have experience from the obligatory national service. About 20 percent of reservists are under 35. Some 180 women serve in reserve units.

Most of the VZ members are secondary or vocational school graduates or they have lower education, underwent a training in an apprentice school, for instance.

The military demands university education for officers only.

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