New Czech Airborne Regiment

New Czech Airborne Regiment
Author:|Caption: 43rd Airborne Battalion
10 / 07 / 2018, 11:45

Among the priorities announced by the Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Aleš Opata concerning the development of forces the formation of an airborne regiment based on the existing 43rd Airborne Battalion of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade was mentioned.

The 4th Brigade is assigned to the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, since february 2017 the Brigade is affiliated to the 10th Armoured Division of the German Bundeswehr based upon an agreement which corresponds to NATO‘s Framework Nations Concept. In the past the units of the 4th Brigade have deployed as part of many of the Czech Armed Forces foreign missions (UNPROFOR, IFOR, SFOR, TFH and KFOR in former Yugoslavia, ISAF and OMLT in Afghanistan and EUTM Mali). The brigade consists of five battalions: 41st and 42nd Mechanised (Infantry) Battalion (Pandur II), 43rd Airborne Battalion, 44th Light Motorised Battalion (raised in 2008) and 45th Mechanised (Infantry) Battalion (raised in 2016); and is considered as spearhead of the Army of the Czech Republic. It builds the core of the 4th Brigade Task Force.

See also: Modernization Projects of the Czech Army

The 43rd Airborne Battalion based in Chrudim, Pardubice Region, Eastern Bohemia, is a light airborne battalion of the commando type (the only one within the Czech Army). It is the main expeditionary force of the Czech Army due to it’s high mobility. It consists of three parts: combat (three airborne companies), combat support (weapons company) and logistics (logistic company), and can operate within the Brigade’s structure or independently. Its main roles and tasks it is trained for are:

  • tactical airborne insertion
  • combat in built-up and fortified areas
  • combat in rugged terrain
  • ambush and assault
  • diversion actions (direct actions)
  • combat patrols in peacekeeping operations

Absolute majority of the battalion’s 600 soldiers has seen more than one foreign deployment.

General Opata served with this Brigade between 1994 and 2008, as officer of a mechanised troops group, officer of a parachute and airborne group, officer of airborne training, in 1998 he became Deputy Commander of 43rd Airborne Mechanised Battalion in Chrudim, and commanded the battalion from 1999 to 2003, when he was appointed commander of the 4h Rapid Deployment Brigade, having served within the UNPROFOR, IFOR, SFOR and KFOR missions in former Yugoslavia.

See also: Current Foreign Deployments of the Czech Army

The plan to build an Airborne Regiment is based upon the NATO Wales Summit Declaration from 2014, meant specifically for the Response Force (NRF) and for the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), „able to deploy within a few days to respond to challenges that arise, particularly at the periphery of NATO's territory. This force should consist of a land component with appropriate air, maritime, and special operations forces available.“

According to general Opata, the costs of formation of the new Airborne Regiment may reach CZK 1–4  billion (USD 50–180 million), and the regiment should be operational in 2020. The last two policy statements of the Czech government (8th January and 27th June) count with this development, we read:

„We will keep to the recruitment policy of past years, when the number of professional soldiers was increased from 21,000 to 24,000. The aim by 2025 is to have at least 30,000 professional soldiers, to add to the numbers and weaponry of the two existing brigades and, building on this, to establish further units.“

Currently the Czech Army strenght reaches 80–90 %, and recruitment is one of its top priorities. The requirements to join the Airborne Regiment won’t be altered, the Chief of General Staff Aleš Opata said; 50–60 % of applicants answer the requirements and pass the three days joining process, testing both the physical and psychic readiness and endurance. The 43rd Battalion can field about 600 soldiers, the Regiment’s strenght will reach 1,500.

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