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Cabinet backs promotion of first woman to rank of general

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Prague, April 24 (CTK) – The Czech cabinet approved today the promotion of four officers to the rank of general, including Colonel Lenka Smerdova, the first female candidate in the country’s history, the Defence Ministry’s spokesman Petr Medek has told the media.

If President Milos Zeman complies with the ministry’s proposal, he will promote the four on May 8, Medek said.

“We are a country with a large proportion of women in the military. That is why it is the highest time for us to have the first female general,” Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said in a press release.

Smerdova, 52, is an adviser to Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar.

The other officers whose promotion was backed by the cabinet today are air force deputy commander Petr Hromek, Communication and Information Systems Agency director Frantisek Ridzak and army deputy commander Ivo Strecha.

Smerdova 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.

In December 2008, she was promoted to the rank of colonel, the ministry wrote in a press release.

“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,” Stropnicky said, referring to Smerdova.

Medek said the Czech Republic has been oscillating around fifth position in NATO in terms of the proportion of women in the military. At present, there are 2,952 women among Czech soldiers, which is 13 percent.

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