Czechs offer 150 members for future NATO quick response force


05.09.2014 17:06

Newport - The Czech Republic will offer 150 members of its 601st group of special forces with several helicopters to NATO's future quick response force, President Milos Zeman said at the NATO summit.


Ministr obrany Martin Stropnický, český prezident Miloš Zeman a ministr zahraničí Lubomír Zaorálek hovoří 5. září s novináři na okraj summitu NATO ve velšském Newportu. ČTK Dospiva Jakub

Other alternatives are also being considered.

The unit with several thousand members is to be a part of the NATO Rapid Force (NRF) and it will be able to intervene within two days.

It will be established within the Readiness Action Plan, also including the command systems and intelligence reform, and changes to military plans, which the summit approved today.

Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said Prague is also considering other ways of joining the new unit´s operation. He mentioned logistics and chemical warfare experts.

The Czech Republic was one of the first countries to present their way of contributing to the project, Stropnicky said.

The concrete shape of the future unit is yet to be discussed and specified by NATO´s military experts.

It ensues from politicians´ words that the unit is to comprise 4,000 or 5,000 troops, along with air and naval support and special units, which the Czech Republic has offered to provide.

Its headquarters might be in Szczecin, Poland.

The unit is to use ammunition and fuel that would be prepared for it in individual NATO member countries in advance. As a result, it will be able to "travel light, but strike hard if needed," as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen put it.

With the plan, NATO is reacting to the security situation in Europe after the Russian invasion of Crimea and within the Ukrainian crisis underway.

"One of the lessons we learnt in the past is that the Alliance would be incapable of reacting to a quickly emerging conflict rapidly and effectively," Stropnicky said.

He said the plan will be debated in detail by the NATO military chief in Europe and his team. Prague could receive a concrete request in the weeks to come, he added.

"Since rapid reaction is spoken about, we tried to react rapidly and, based on an agreement with Czech chief-of-staff [Petr Pavel], we´ve offered 150 special forces troops whom we could provide almost immediately," Stropnicky said.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) recalled the possibility of Prague sending officers to the Szczecin headquarters or providing logistics experts.

"By no means will the Czech Republic stay outside the project," Zaoralek said.

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