President Pavel speaking in senate, 2023. Credit: official presidential gallery

Pavel Calls For Moves Towards Administrative Military Conscription In The Czech Republic

President Petr Pavel yesterday supported the possibility of introducing administrative military conscription, in order for the state to get an overview of who it can count on for national defence efforts, but said conscription should not be seen as a precursor to the reintroduction of compulsory military service.

“The defence of the state is not just a matter of the professional army,” Pavel said in the Five Minutes to Twelve debate on TV Nova. “Participation can be various, in the form of civilian service and basic training, so that every person who is capable and has the aptitude to do so can acquire basic skills.” 

Pavel, who was Czech chief of staff in the first half of the 2010s, was reacting to the need to boost the number of active army reserves, which he said should be higher than the 30,000 members of the professional army. “This is a matter for a discussion on how more people can be prepared for possible participation in the defence of the state,” Pavel said.

The Czech army’s strategic documents for 2030 envisage a target of 30,000 professional soldiers and 10,000 members of the active reserves. Last September, the army had 27,982 professional soldiers but only about 4,300 active reserve soldiers. Pavel said the active reserves should outnumber the active army.

“We’re certainly not even close to there,” he said, noting that the defence law, which is still valid,  obliges everyone from 18 to 60 years of age to participate in the defence of the state.

Following the abolition of compulsory basic military service, the restoration of which is considered socially unrealistic, 40,000 members have been deleted each year from the list of military reservists, from the generations that have completed basic military training but are now too old to serve, Rehka said. The Czech Republic will therefore have to consider some mechanism to replace these reserves, he said, mentioning voluntary temporary service as an example.

Defence Minister Jana Cernochova (ODS) hinted at cooperation with universities or a discussion on the involvement of firearms licence holders. She also discussed the most recently introduced form of involvement of the population – the so-called voluntary predetermination to supplement the armed forces. A person who applies only has to undergo an immediate medical exam. Should the security situation deteriorate, they would also undergo training.

In a debate on CNN Prima News, KDU-CSL deputy chairman and lower house Deputy Speaker Jan Bartosek said the state must have information on how many people are prepared to defend the country in the event of a military conflict.

“Personally, I am in favour of bringing back compulsory conscription because in the event of a conflict, the state needs to know who is willing to defend this country… And the state does not have that at the moment,” Bartosek said.

TOP 09 MP Ondrej Kolar agreed that some form of military service is necessary. “The question is what form it would take and how long it would be,” he said.

ANO MP Jaroslav Bzoch said the Czech Republic does not have the background for the introduction of compulsory military service. “I really don’t know how we would do it. I’m not sure we have the necessary background to return to increased training,” Bzoch argued.

Bartosek agreed that the infrastructure is not ready for the reintroduction of compulsory military service, which was abolished in the Czech Republic in 2004.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail