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Reorganization of Czech command structures

Published : 1 July 2013
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Abandoning the concept of Joint Headquarters, the Czech Armed Forces reorganize their command structure from 1st July 2013.

Two small Service headquarters – 50 people each – have been created within the General Staff in order to replace the Joint Forces Command of Olomouc (Moravia). At the same time, three specialized Agencies – Logistics, Health and CIS – are taking over the duties of Joint Support Command of Stara Boleslav (Central Bohemia). This reorganization process will be achieved on 1st September 2013 when the 14 Territorial Commands will be transferred under the direction of “Development and Capabilities Planning” Division which has been created on 1st July by merging the “Forces Development” and “Forces Planning” Divisions.

Created in 2003, prior to the professionalization of the Armed Forces, the two Joint Commands, that are already managed by their liquidation teams, should definitively close their doors in October 2013 after 10 years of existence.

The immediate benefit expected from this reorganization – except a better fluidity amongst the chain of command – is a reduction of strength: 1600 budgetary positions should be thus cancelled, corresponding to around 800 dismissals mainly in the various headquarters.

The following step should touch the current brigades that should be redesigned from 1st January 2014 in “Regiments” composed of “Battalions”.

Is that a step forward or a movement backwards?

It is interesting to observe that, in a period of time when most of European Armed forces are striving to get a more and more “Joint” character, the Czech Ministry of Defense is dissolving its joint headquarters.

Do we have to conclude that Czechs are coming back to an organization based on “Services”?

The answer is simpler: considering the small strength of the Czech Armed Forces (around 20 000 soldiers serving in the forces), the overlap of command structures – General Staff, Joint Headquarters, Brigade Headquarters – is confirming the hypertrophy of decision centers to the detriment of combat units. Thanks to this simplification, Czechs are trying to get back some balance that had been progressively lost since the beginning of professionalization.

That way, both Army and Air Staffs will be in charge within the General Staff of education and training of their respective units. The Joint Operations Center will continue in being responsible of the Czech units deployed in operations. And the new specialized Agencies will have to provide the commanders with appropriate human and material resources.

So this suppression of Joint headquarters cannot be considered as a step backwards towards a management by Services of the Czech Armed Forces. It is only a mere attempt to rationalize the command structures after the reduction of strength of the Armed Forces themselves. Being under financial pressure, as it is the case in the rest of Europe; the Czech Ministry of Defense is striving to find new sources of savings without touching the combat units.

The only question is: will this be enough to satisfy the budget cuts?