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Czech military may send sappers to Mali, police to Iraq

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Prague, April 20 (CTK) – The Czech military is planning the deployment of its sappers in the mission in Mali and the sending of military police to Iraq to train their local counterparts, Chief of Staff Josef Becvar told journalists on Thursday.

The army command and the Defence Ministry have also decided not to withdraw the transport planes from the mission in the Sinai as envisaged due to the necessary repairs, Becvar said.

As of 2018, Czech troops are to contribute to the reinforcement of NATO’s eastern wing.

For this purpose, the military intends to send a mechanised company under the German command to Lithuania and a mortar company platoon to the Canadian group in Latvia.

Becvar said some 850 soldiers including the rotating ones had been sent to missions in a year.

The military is planning to step up its participation in foreign missions, he added.

In Mali, Czech soldiers are protecting the training mission of the EU and contributing to the training of Malian soldiers.

As part of a cooperation with Sweden, some bomb disposal experts from the engineering forces may be sent to the country within the MUNISMA mission.

The mission in Iraq is to be changed, too. In June, the field surgical team helping the Iraqi soldiers, police and militias trying to liberate Mosul from Islamist militants will return home.

The aviation advisory team will stay in the country.

At the close of the year, five to ten military police instructors are to start training Iraqi police. They are to cooperate with the officers from the Czech police.

Deputy Defence Minister Jakub Landovsky told the Chamber of Deputies defence affairs committee that Czech doctors in Iraq had already operated 26 Iraqi soldiers, police, tribal chieftains and civilians.

Within its nine-month mission, the aviation advisory team took part in the training of eight Iraqi pilots and 50 local technical staff.

Iraqi pilots have undertaken 115 combat missions with the Czech L-159 aircraft Iraq bought from the Czech Republic.

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