Martin Stropnický, the Czech Minister of Defence, announced that the Czechs have increased the number of troops which is assigned to be a part of the response force in 2016. The number has gone up from 452 to 816 soldiers. On the other hand, when it comes to the “Spearhead” - the NATO rapid response unit, 100 Czech soldiers and transport helicopters (most probably the Mi-17 Hips) are going to become a part of its structure.
This year, 1500 Czech troops have been assigned to the NATO Response Force component. Some of those troops belonged to the temporary rapid response forces. They took part in the Noble Jump exercise in Poland. The decision, taken by the Czechs to increase the number of soldiers that are going to serve within the NATO Response Force component, is related to implementation of the provisions and commitments made during the NATO summit in Newport.
In June this year, Ministers of Defence of the NATO member states, by executing the political decisions undertaken in Wales, agreed to raise the number of troops out of which the Response Force is going to consist up to 40,000. NATO Response Force also contains so called “Spearhead” element — several thousand troops, who may be deployed in a matter of days.
Decision that increases the Czech participation in the response force is yet another factor that proves that the Czech involvement in the Collective Defence initiative has been increased, after Prague has raised the level of defence expenditure and announced the intention to carry out a modernization of the Army. However, one should remember that Prague’s defence capabilities are still limited, and an even partial reversal of the cuts that were implemented throughout the last couple of years, if plausible, is going to be a time-consuming process.