Senior Course 143 in Czechia: Insights on Czech defence policy and security strategy
The last stop on the Field Study trip to European capitals was Prague, where the NDC delegation was hosted at the Ministry of Defence on 9 November 2023. SC 143 heard comprehensive presentations on the objectives and priorities set out in Czechia’s security & defence policy, and on the country’s new security strategy, which factors in the consequences of the unstable international security situation. The academic session ended with an overview of the Czech Armed Forces and their international commitments, with a special focus on the modernization process, implemented in line with NATO’s much discussed new Force Model. NDC Dean Christopher M. Schnaubelt met the Czech Chief of Defence Staff (CHOD), Lieutenant General Karel Řehka, for an office call, which was an opportunity to learn more about the NDC and to explore the scope for closer, mutually beneficial cooperation. The day concluded with a reception at the military Hotel DAP (Dům Armády Praha) in Prague, hosted by the Czech CHOD.
The NDC delegation arrived in the morning and was welcomed by Major General Miloslav Lafek, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and Inspector of the Armed Forces. In his welcome remarks, after pointing out that he had attended the Generals, Flag Officers and Ambassadors' Course (GFOAC) in the past, MGEN Lafek provided a general overview of the Czech Armed Forces’ activities in the currently very challenging security environment. The Czech Republic is supporting Ukraine directly as well as within NATO and the European Union, stated MGEN Lafek, offering its backing to all the activities NATO and the EU have put in place to help Ukraine. He also highlighted that Czechia strongly supports NATO priorities and NATO's new Force Model, which his country is working towards as it adapts its own Armed Forces. MGEN Lafek concluded by addressing the Course Members: “This visit to the Czech Republic will expand your view and knowledge on our mission and capability”.
Ms Katarina Hynkova, Head of the NATO Branch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then briefed the NDC delegation on Czechia’s foreign policy and its National Security Strategy, which is the country’s central security policy document and a reference framework for other strategies and policies relating to security. “It sets out core principles and directions for security policy that are binding on all bodies of the state and public administration, serving not only as guidance for strategic decisions but also for daily work at all levels of the security system”, explained the speaker, who also highlighted that strategic communications played a key role in helping audiences gain the right understanding of issues in support of the preparation process.
Subsequently, Mr Libor Boleslav, Head of Security Policy at the Defence Policy and Strategy Section of the Ministry of Defence, outlined the priorities set out by the Minister of Defence, focusing mainly on the following: collective defence, with insights on the Czech Republic’s contribution to reinforcing the eastern flank and its participation in collective defence operations; cooperation and support to Ukraine; and the ongoing modernization of forces. Finally, Mr Boleslav described the EU security and defence initiatives in which the Czech Republic takes part, as well as the country’s main bilateral cooperation engagements.
The last presentation was delivered by Lieutenant Colonel Petr Kuzel, from the Planning Capabilities Department at the Czech General Staff. After introducing the most important strategic documents and their hierarchy, LTC Kuzel provided an overview of the Czech Armed Forces, in terms of tasks; structure; main capabilities & acquisitions; and missions & operations. His presentation concluded the morning programme for SC 143.
In the evening, the Czech CHOD hosted the NDC delegation at the military Hotel DAP for a reception, which ended the Czech leg of the trip and was the last event of Field Study 2 for Senior Course 143.