Minister of Defense: „Saving on the Army is like saving on epidemiologists“

Minister of Defense: „Saving on the Army is like saving on epidemiologists“
Caption: BMP-2's of the Czech Army
11 / 05 / 2020, 10:00

The servant has done his job, the servant can go. The military has made a significant contribution to overcoming the coronary crisis, but now it could be the first to pay for it. Opinions to stop the modernization of the Army due to the pandemic must be rejected.

Whenever we find ourselves in a crisis, we rely on the Army. And our soldiers will never fail us. As now, when the Czech Republic is facing the coronavirus. Again the Army is willing to help wherever it is needed. It guards the state border with the Police, unloads protective equipment at airports, it goes with doctors in ambulances to take blood tests, and even takes care of our seniors at their rest homes.

We have become accustomed to all this so that almost no one will even thank the soldiers for it.

Even if it is not part of their job.

We just take it automatically that they always help us. However, with each economic downturn, the Army is also the first to feel it on its budget.

I hope that this practice will not be repeated now. At NATO, we are committed to being a full member of this defense military alliance. That is why an extensive and strategic plan for the modernization of our entire army was created. Czech soldiers have long been calling not only for the purchase of modern Infantry Fighting Vehicles, which are absolutely crucial in terms of the combat capability of today's army. Obsolete Soviet machines made half a century ago are about to stop serving. They are unreliable and assign work to our soldiers rather than performing their tasks with them.

See also: Modernization Projects of the Czech Army

That is why we promised the Army new and modern combat vehicles. Now, in times of savings, it will certainly be more complicated, but we have found a solution with financing the purchase spread over a longer period of time, so we have to finish this.

Is it enough to brush off the old BMPs?

I noticed a discussion in the media that we do not need such technology, and it would be enough if we modernized the old BMPs, ie infantry fighting vehicles. As Minister of Defense, I say that the modernization of old combat vehicles is a journey to the past. A heavy brigade forms the basis of any combat-ready army that can defend its country. Without it, our army will never be complete.

We still count upon live in peace and be safe. And when it's appropriate, the Army goes to the sidelines. But it was the coronavirus pandemic that showed us all that was not true. No one was expecting it either, and suddenly thousands of people around the world are dying. And, of course, the soldiers have helped and are helping in this crisis as well. And they also showed that they must always be prepared and well armed, because pandemics and wars are never planned. They just come.

And always when we all least expect them.

In NATO, the Czech Republic has committed itself to having a fully operational heavy brigade by 2026. And some modernization of old armaments is certainly not enough, as some still naively think. We will build a fully functional heavy brigade only by fundamentally rearming it. And we just buy new and modern combat vehicles.

Based on military analyzes and expert requirements, a tender has therefore already started, which is, by the way, the largest tender in the history of our Army. And, as usual, it was immediately criticized by non-professionals. Often from people who do not understand the Army and its armaments at all, but still write that we should save. So again, as always, we take the money from the Army, because we don't need it here when there is no war. That is why it is said that it is enough for our soldiers to put a few new things on old platforms of combat vehicles from the 1970s, which they will buy dearly.

It is exactly the same as if they were now mounting the superb's body on the chassis of an old Š120 in Škoda due to savings. They would certainly be very successful with that. But it's not the only nonsense I've noticed.

The idea also began to spread that soldiers would buy armor only in a combat version and modernize the support ones. Such a solution does not really protect our soldiers, which, however, obviously does not bother some people. It's not their life. In addition, it complicates the compatibility of our army with other NATO armies and thus weakens the entire collective security and defense of the Czech Republic.

Thank you and we spit upon you

I don't want defense contracts that evoke divisive feelings like parachutes, pandurs or transport planes in the past. Therefore, we proceed with maximum transparency when purchasing combat vehicles, and the assignment fully meets the requirements of military experts. Opponents of our Army's modern armaments, moreover, completely ignore the economic side of the whole thing. If we buy new combat vehicles for fifty billion crowns, Czech industry will gain at least twenty billion from it.

See also: Defence budget cuts after the Chinese virus crisis

And it's not just about money. Thanks to this, our companies will also have access to top know-how and state-of-the-art technologies.

And it doesn't matter to the critics of the contract. According to them, we can simply spit upon our army again, because it has already helped us with the pandemic. I don't know more dangerous thinking than this. It is as if we are now starting to investigate our epidemiologists, because coronavirus has almost stopped and nothing like this will ever come to us again.

Only a lover of science fiction novels can think that we are not in any danger.

Saving on the Army is like saving on epidemiologists, because the coronavirus has almost stopped.

Author: Lubomír Metnar, minister of defense

  • The article was originally published by MF DNES on 9th May, and is available on

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