Prague – For a long time, NATO is discussing plans to create spearhead forces capable to make an airborne landing anywhere in the world. The war in Ukraine has accelarated the discussion on these plans at the alliance‘s summit in Wales. The chief of staff of the Czech army Petr Pavel has communicated this information in an exclusive interview with Aktuálně.cz daily. In this context, Prague has offered to NATO 150 men from its special forces including helicopters.
„I was thinking about how could we contribute to the creation of the rapid reaction forces and I have suggested to Prezident Miloš Zeman that the special forces from Prostějov or the paratroopers from Chrudim as our best trained and experienced units could be acceptable for NATO, and he made just this proposition to our allies,“ Pavel said.
A.cz: Does it mean that the well-known „NATO Response Force“ (NRF) will be abolished?
No. Within these forces, there will be some units allocated with an even higher level of preparedness and alertness. If today the NRF (Czech Republic delivers to them regularly the chemical unit from Liberec) has 15 000 men for ground, naval and air operations, then the 4-5 000 men will form these spearhead forces, as they are incorrectly called, with a deployment time of up to five days. Within these forces, there will exist an immediate reaction batallion of four companies with a deployment time of up to two days.
A.cz: And within this military pyramid, where could we incorporate the special forces suggested by Prezident Zeman?
This idea has been born spontaneously after NATO declarared that it wants form specialised, immediate reaction forces. Now, there is a standard planning process to be realized.
At a NATO summit, a policy framework has been developped to create these immediate reaction forces. The NATO high command will then incorporate this instruction into a viable concept. There is an organizational structure to be formed and a manner to be determined how to guarantee the fixed deployment time, which countries with which units will take part in the project, how the transfer of the soldiers in the deployment area will be secured, to whom and from which time these units will be subordinated, how the logistic support will be ensured etc.
A.cz: But it is impossible that the national parliament will be capable to assemble and approve the sending of the troops… Will they then receive a sort of bianco cheque or preliminary agreement from the legislators?
The soldiers for these immediate reaction forces should have a standard mandate from the government and the parliament. But it will be necessary to guarantee a so-called „Transfer of Authority” to the NATO commander in relation to these immediate reaction forces with a shortest possible deployment time (48 hours) and there is a lot of discussion on it.
A.cz: What will you do with the special forces from Prostějov that will be taken over by the general staff from the military intelligence?
The 601th special forces group is trained and equipped in such a manner today, that it is capable to be deployed in a very short time. The same could be said of the airborne batallion from Chrudim. I have talked about the capabilities of the soldiers with the Czech President in Wales. The President has passed this information shortly after our discussion to our partners in NATO. It is impossible to realize such projects without an initiative and I perceive positively the fact that the Czech Republic has signed up with this initiative.
A.cz: How has been the reaction of the allies to your offer?
Very positive. But if NATO will decide that the spearhead forces will be formed by airborne commando units, we will use the paratroopers from Chrudim. And if NATO will decide that it will be the task for special forces, we will offer our special forces with helicopters. They are prepared and trained for similar operations.
We are now in a planning and reasoning phase. Four companies are not able to stop a massive invasion of the enemy, but, as for the asymmetric threats, they could launch a quick counter-strike and react to the unexpected crisis situation. And after these units have accomplished their mission, larger and stronger NATO forces will come into action.