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Czech Military Intelligence will get a new Director

Published : 18 September 2012
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On 1st November 2012, Brigadier general Milan Kovanda, currently deputy of the Joint Forces Command of Olomouc, will succeed Lieutenant general Ondrej Páleník as Director of the Czech Military intelligence (VZ).

After more than five years as head of the Czech military intelligence and counter-intelligence service, General Páleník, 47, may leave the armed forces and become the director of the Administration of State Material Reserves - in Czech “Správa státních hmotných rezerv“ (SSHR). According to the legislation, the chairman of this body is appointed and dismissed by the Government as proposed by the Minister of Industry and Trade in agreement with the Minister of Finance.

General Páleník, who is a close friend of former Defense minister Martin Barták, quite controversial, managed to get support from Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS- conservative Eurosceptic), from Minister of Finance Miroslav Kalousek (TOP09 – conservative pro-European) and from Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kuba (ODS).

The Administration of State Material Reserves is a central government agency in the sphere of economic measures for emergencies, oil security and the state material reserve (fuel, wheat, wool…), the value of which raises dozen billion crowns. It must be permanently ready to cope with 24 different types of crisis (natural or industrial disasters, terrorist attacks…).

This agency is waiting for its new chairman since November 2011 and is currently managed by Vice-chairman Tomaš Perutka, who is a former deputy minister of Defense in charge of economy, sacked in October 2010 by Mr Vondra. Mr Perutka hardly justified several payments of his house, built in 2007 by company H+V Praha. This latter company was involved in 2010 in a scandal of fraudulent attribution of public contracts within the Defense Ministry.

General Kovanda, 42, comes from the Special Forces where he served the major part of his career. He was deputy of General Páleník between 2003 and 2006, when the latter was Commander of 601st Group of Special Forces in Prostejov. He succeeded him as head of this elite unit on 1st December 2006 and remained commander till 30th April 2010.

After having been promoted to brigadier general when he was barely 40 years old, general Kovanda’s appointment as Director of Military Intelligence, together with the recent promotion of lieutenant general Petr Pavel to Chief of Defense Staff on 1st July, is confirming the high quality of the officers coming from the Czech Special Forces and Military Intelligence. Milan Kovanda should be promoted to Major general next 28th October during the traditional promotion ceremony of this Czech national Day.

Although general Kovanda has a wide operational experience, he will have to cope with the political world. The Czech director of Military Intelligence is effectively directly subordinated to the Minister of Defense. He will have to lead the service in a very difficult period of time, with heavy budget cuts and new orientations derived from the Czech White Paper of 2011. According to it, Special Forces should pass under the operational command of Chief of staff in the coming years. No doubt that the struggle between two charismatic generals will be interesting to monitor.