The Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, General Petr Pavel, will be the new chairman of the NATO Military Committee, according to information obtained by the Czech News Agency. General Pavel was elected to the post at the committee meeting in Vilnius on Saturday. He will replace the present committee head, Danish General Knud Bartels, next year. General Pavel is the first representative of a NATO east European member country to hold the senior post. In the vote, committee members chose the Czech over rival candidates from Italy and Greece. His mandate will last three years and can be prolonged.
The Military Committee chairman is NATO´s highest military authority and chief military adviser to NATO secretary general. In this respect, Pavel will cooperate with Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, who will take up the post of secretary general next month. The Military Committee is the supreme military body of NATO. It can submit proposals and recommendations to the North Atlantic Council, the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group.
The second shipment of Czech military aid to Kurdish forces fighting against Islamic State extremists in northern Iraq was sent from the military airport in Pardubice on Saturday. A Canadian C-17 Globemaster transport plane is transporting some 65 tonnes of ammunition, including millions of rounds for Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns, as well as hand grenades and ammunition for anti-tank rocket launchers. The Czech government agreed in August to provide support for Kurdish forces under threat from Islamic State, after it seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Traffic was reported to have been backed up for several kilometres in the area of Ostrava on Saturday morning as attendees prepared to visit NATO Days and Czech Air Force Days - the largest event of its kind in Central Europe - at the airport in Mošnov. Police reported that traffic was the heaviest from the city of Ostrava itself, where cars were backed up six or seven kilometres, with delays of up to two hours. Tens of thousands of people are attending the air show, where 16 states are taking part, over two days. One of the big attractions is the European 'premiere' of the American CV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
Police at around 2 AM on Saturday apprehended 60-year-old Bedřich Spurný, bringing to an end a two-day manhunt. The man, considered armed and dangerous, was caught by police using night-vision gear; no one was hurt in the operation. The Czech News Agency reported the man is suspected of having committed the crime of grievous bodily harm. Since Thursday, dozens of officers, with help from Polish counterparts, conducted the search for Mr Spurný - in terrain near the border - making use of a helicopter and police dogs.
Meteorologists have issued storm warnings for the much of the country, with some areas to experience heavy rainfall or thunderstorms after around 3 PM on Saturday. Regions expected to suffer heavier storms include the Czech-Moravian highlands, Plzeň, and Central Bohemia. Warnings are in place until 11 PM.
Around 30 travelers in period costumes on Saturday marked the 111th anniversary of the founding of the first electrified railway route in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the so-called 'Bechyňka' from Tábor to Bechyně, boarding an historic train called the Elinka. The route and railway car was the design of renowned inventor Frantíšek Krǐźik. A two-way trip on the historic train cost those who took part 500 crowns.
Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková has reached her fourth final this year on the WTA tour. In Seoul she defeated Russian opponent Maria Kirilenko 4:6, 7:6, 6:3. She will face Uzbek-American Varvara Lepchenko for the title.