Top military chaplains from 37 armies of NATO countries, and those affiliated with the alliance’s Partnership for Peace programme are in Prague for their annual conference. Over 80 Christian priests and ministers, together with two rabbis and an imam, will be talking about how to improve their role as ethical guides for the troops.
The Ministry of Defence has reduced the ranks of over half of soldiers currently in service. The changes were made in order to conform to the NATO ranking system, from which the Czech system differed and was a source of confusion. Three ranks were removed while another five were reinstated, in all affecting some 14,000 soldiers, or 60% of the army. A small percent also have faced wage reductions as a result of decreased rank, while nearly 800 were effectively promoted. According to the former system, soldiers of the lowest positions were entitled to ranks used elsewhere by experienced non-commissioned officers. Insignias have also been changed at a cost of several million crowns. Chief warrant officers for example previously wore three silver stars, which other NATO soldiers interpreted as the mark of a three star general.
Czech-US relations are caught up in the massive publication of US diplomatic messages being released by the WikiLeaks server. So far the site has released just one letter from the US embassy in Prague dating from October 2009. It concerns the reset of relations following President Barack Obama’s decision a month earlier to abandon his predecessor’s anti-missile defence shield plans involving a radar base in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland. The letter gives a snapshot of how the US side is trying to encourage the Czechs to think more broadly about future strategic cooperation, with the Czech side struggling to deal with the reset. According to the Guardian newspaper over 1,000 of the overall 250,000 cables are out of Prague.
The Czech delegation to the two-day NATO summit in Lisbon has said the
country wants to be actively involved in the creation of a missile defense
shield which would protect the territory of all NATO member states in
Europe and North America. NATO has also invited Russia to take part,
although it is not yet clear at what level. Russia’s involvement was
strongly advocated, among others, by Czech President Václav Klaus. Prime
Minister Petr Nečas said the Czech Republic was hoping to host an early
warning centre but would welcome broader involvement, for instance in the
sphere of military research.
NATO leaders also agreed on a gradual withdrawal of their military presence in Afghanistan, aiming to hand security responsibility to Afghan forces between 2011 and 2014 and to move into a more supportive role. The Czech Republic has been actively involved in the ISAF mission. In response to a US request Prague recently agreed to increase the Czech military presence in Afghanistan to 720 troops in 2011and is expected to maintain 640 troops in the country in 2012.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas, President Václav Klaus, Foreign
Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra are
heading a Czech delegation at a two-day NATO summit that began in Lisbon on
Friday. The Czech government has picked out the strategic rethink of the
alliance as the major issue for discussion. Government members have
insisted in the past they do not want to see any dilution of the principle
of common defence as new tasks such as tackling terrorism, energy security
and cyber crime are embraced. But alliance members are also expected to
plot a withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan.
The meeting is also expected to push ahead with a NATO anti-missile defence shield to be established over the next 10 years. This would be a wider version of the now abandoned shield originally planned between the US, Czech Republic and Poland. The last stage of the meeting will be taken up by a summit between the alliance and Russia.
A major international military exhibition for Nato and Partnership for Peace members has begun in Prague. The Future Soldier trade fair, featuring over 100 commercial exhibitors from 25 countries, runs until Saturday in Letňany, on the outskirts of the city. Delegates to a concurrent conference called Urban Peacekeepers will discuss peace keeping, dealing with asymmetric threats and fighting terrorism. The Czech Republic is hosting Future Soldier every second year between 2008 and 2014.
The Višegrad group states have signed a memorandum on closer cooperation between their air forces. The pledge was sealed at the 10th annual NATO days in Ostrava said to be the biggest air, military and security show in Central Europe. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary agreed to maximize interactions between their air forces and promote joint training opportunities for their pilots with an emphasis on more across-the-border training and shared know-how from foreign missions. The NATO days in Ostrava attracted close to a hundred thousand visitors. One of the biggest attractions this year is the legendary heavy strategic bomber B-52 Stratofortress of the United States Air Force.
Tens of thousands of people attended the 10th annual NATO days at Ostrava’s Mosnov Airport over the weekend. The two day event is slated to be the biggest air, military and security show in Central Europe with military hardware exhibitions, police and rescue technology and dynamic shows of special units. One of the biggest attractions this year is the legendary heavy strategic bomber B-52 Stratofortress of the United States Air Force.
Petr Nečas is beginning his first visit to Brussels since being appointed Czech prime minister at the end of June. On Wednesday evening Mr Nečas will hold talks with the president of the European Commission, Jose Barroso, and the commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn. During a three-day visit to Brussels, the Czech prime minister will also take part in a European Union summit and meet the secretary general of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Czech IT specialists organize “hackathon” to give government online motorway vignette sales system for free
Minister: Czech Republic won’t take in 40 child refugees from Greek camps
CzechTourism head hints attracting tourists no longer agency’s main goal
Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events