Gen. Řehka: Army must do its best to make people understand the importance of defence and security of the country

 05. 07. 2024      category: Army of the Czech Republic
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The 34th annual Czech Army Ground Forces Day Bahna 2024 again brought not only a unique programme, but also a large number of Czech and foreign military equipment, including interesting novelties. The event was traditionally opened by the Minister of Defence Jana Černochová, Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Lieutenant General Karel Řehka, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Czech Armed Forces Major General Roman Náhončík and other guests. Unexpectedly, this year's event was also attended by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President of the Republic Petr Pavel, thus becoming the second Czech President after Václav Havel to attend Bahna event in person.

Video: Biggest news and highlights from Bahna 2024 / CZ DEFENCE

Military history and the present always meet at Bahna, and this year was no exception. The historical programme included not only a parade of historical military equipment including a dynamic demonstration, but also a contemporary story. This time it was the story of the Slovak National Uprising, which this year will mark its 80th anniversary.

In her opening remarks, Defence Minister Jana Černochová mentioned that this year marks the 25th anniversary of our accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and emphasised how important it is to be part of this defence pact. She also added that what we gain from the Alliance, we must also give back to the collective defence.

Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Karel Řehka then told the visitors that the ground forces are the main pillar of the real combat capability of the army and reminded them that the defence of the country is not only about the army and other security forces, but it is a matter of the whole society. "That is why it is important that you care and that you come here to support us," emphasized the general, who, among other things, thanked the soldiers for preparing the event.

For CZ DEFENCE, Minister Černochová emphasized the uniqueness of the event, which she said was important in several ways. "The army is presenting what it can do, what it can show off, including its equipment. This year, for example, we are again seeing Leopards 2A4," the minister said. According to her, it is the military equipment that attracts visitors here.

Foto: Leopard 2A4 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Leopard 2A4 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Foto: Své schopnosti a techniku již tradičně na Bahnech prezentovala Armáda ČR | Daniel Špalek / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Traditionally, the Army of the Czech Republic presented its capabilities and equipment at the Bahna | Daniel Špalek / CZ DEFENCE
Foto: Prezentace AČR na akci Bahna 2024 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Presentation of the Czech Armed Forces at Bahna 2024 event | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Foto: Prezentace AČR na akci Bahna 2024 | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Presentation of the Czech Armed Forces at Bahna 2024 event | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE

Bahna are also an opportunity to tap into the recruitment potential of those who are related to the military and its equipment. "Families with children have been coming here for several generations, and a lot of those people have changed over the years," the minister said, adding that it is a place to offer jobs in the army or active reserves. In this context, the minister also recalled that the Czech Republic plans to conclude a contract for the purchase of Leopard 2A8 tanks by the end of this year. "We have signed an accession agreement to this project with the Federal Republic of Germany. What attracts us the most is that we are guaranteed the same amount for the purchase of these tanks as the Federal Republic of Germany. And the more countries there are, the more tanks will be bought this way and the lower the price will be, of course," the minister said. According to her, this is also an interesting area for industrial cooperation of Czech defence industry companies, which could reach up to 40% as in other similar projects.

Foto: Leopard 2A4 | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Leopard 2A4 | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE

The Minister personally visited the presentation stands of representatives of the Czech defence industry, which, among other things, are involved in the Czech munitions initiative. "It is our armourers who have not let us down, they have not let Ukraine down and through the contacts they have we can implement the Ammunition Initiative project. And you know that at the end of last week, the Prime Minister and I were able to tell the public and our allies that we fulfilled our promise and delivered to Ukraine at the end of June the quantity we were supposed to deliver," Defence Minister Jana Černochová told CZ DEFENCE.

Foto: Bahna jsou také příležitostí k využití náborového potenciálu těch, kteří k armádě a jejímu vybavení mají vztah, potvrdila ministryně obrany Jana Černochová | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Bahna mines are also an opportunity to use the recruitment potential of those who are related to the army and its equipment, confirmed Minister of Defence Jana Černochová. | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

The importance of the Bahna event was also appreciated by the Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Karel Řehka, who highlighted the event as one of the pillars of building the modern traditions of the army. At the same time, he also reminded that in addition to military equipment in action, visitors can also see practical demonstrations of army training, albeit adapted for the spectator. "Of course, the realistic combat training looks different. The demonstrations are adapted to make it safe and understandable," General Řehka told our editorial team.

We wondered what more the Army can do to make people understand its importance for defence and security. General Řehka sees that space. "Not only can it, but it has to do its best. Of course, it's not just about the army," the Chief of the General Staff told CZ DEFENCE, who also recalled the role of the education system and schools in building society's relationship to these basic building blocks of the state.

Foto: Generál Řehka připomenul, že armáda musí udělat maximum pro to, aby lidé pochopili význam obrany a bezpečnosti země. | Jan Zilvar / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: General Řehka reminded that the army must do its utmost to make people understand the importance of defence and security of the country. | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

As already mentioned, an integral part of the Bahna event are presentations by Czech companies, some of which are also partners of the event. The general partner of the Bahna event was STV GROUP, which this year presented vehicles from Rheinmetall, Flyer Defense and Patria.

The Flyer 72 vehicle, with the capacity to carry up to nine people and with the ability to be quickly configured for different missions, was introduced to us by the Director of Business Development of Flyer Defense, Colonel (v.v.) Robert Rice: "This vehicle was designed for the Special Operations Command. What makes this vehicle special? There are many things. First, I would mention its payload, which is what the vehicle can carry. The vehicle itself is about 3,300 kilograms, but you can add to that a weight of 2,500 kilograms, whether it's people, weapons systems or communications equipment. That is really remarkable for a vehicle of this class, a light tactical vehicle. Secondly, I would mention the mobility and the very smooth ride. If you're used to driving old Jeeps or Humvees, the ride is quite harsh. If you ride in a Flyer, you get to your destination without being worn out from the ride and you are so fresh and ready to fight. The dimensions of the vehicle are also interesting. The Flyer is a 72 inch wide and 72 inch tall vehicle. This is a very important figure that allows the vehicle to fit inside a CH-47 helicopter, giving you more flexibility for air assault missions as well as for airdrops. So if you're an airborne unit that has airlift capabilities, this vehicle has really unique features. In service for the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Flyer has seen combat experience in places like Iraq, Syria, and has also been deployed with the Israeli IDF. So this is a combat-proven vehicle," said Robert Rice. Our editorial team also had the opportunity to experience the driving characteristics of the Flyer 72 in person.

Foto: Ve vozidle Flyer 72 jsme měli možnost se svézt | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: In the Flyer 72 vehicle we had the opportunity to ride | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

This year, for the first time in the Czech Republic, the Patria AMV 8x8 armoured vehicle with a turret-mounted remote-controlled 120mm NEMO mortar system was presented. "It is a fully integrated platform. Its development is complete, it has been battle-tested and the latest version of Patria AMV XP is now used by nine countries," Ivo Strejček, business development manager at STV GROUP, told our editorial team. The mortar is interesting because it is unique in its class in many respects. It allows direct and indirect fire, even while driving. The system is capable of firing up to five rounds with simultaneous impact on the target. It can carry approximately 50 to 60 rounds of ammunition. The system has a semi-automatic loading system, which means automatic loading of the rounds, where two operators sitting in the back of the vehicle just set the igniter and add or remove so-called incremental rounds of ammunition to achieve the desired range.

Foto: Obrněné vozidlo Patria AMV 8x8 s věžovým dálkově ovládaným 120mm minometným systémem NEMO | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Armoured vehicle Patria AMV 8x8 with turret remote controlled 120mm mortar system NEMO | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

The RMMVs (Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles), a joint venture between Rheinmetall and truck specialist MAN of Austria, were another first at the Bahna event. The TG series is a militarised vehicle specifically for logistics needs. The HX series is a fully military platform built for the toughest terrain. Both vehicles come in a 6x6 version, but the HX series is also capable of having a chassis up to 10x10. This is used, for example, for the new howitzers in Germany. The contribution of these vehicles to the military is wide ranging - from the most basic logistics operations to carrying very sophisticated radar systems, electronic warfare systems, anti-aircraft guns or howitzer systems.

Foto: Vozidlo RMMV (Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles) HX 6x6 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Vehicle RMMV (Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles) HX 6x6 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

Also at this year's Bahna, Kopřivnice-based Tatra Trucks brought a novelty in the form of the new 3rd generation Tatra Force military vehicle, which had its world premiere at the recent Eurosatory 2024 trade fair in Paris. The Tatra novelty has an upgraded Tatra air-cooled V8 engine under the hood, but the Tatra 12-cylinder will also be available, as well as Cummins or Caterpillar engines and automated or fully automatic transmissions. Compared to the previous generation, the new Tatra Force concept allows for alternative engine mounting under the front of the cab above the front axle, or under the rear of the cab behind the front axle. The new vehicle also has advanced on-board electronics and will bring greater safety or a higher level of ergonomics and control. At Bahna, the new Tatra Force was presented in a version with a standard cab, but armoured cabs, which are being developed and will be produced by Tatra Defence Vehicle, will be available later. The chassis has the proven Tatra concept with a central load tube and swinging independently suspended semi-axles.

As part of Excalibur Army's portfolio, visitors could then see the armoured Patriot 4x4 vehicle on a Tatra chassis. It is a versatile machine that can serve as a light combat vehicle, but also as a patrol or command vehicle, ambulance or carrier of various equipment and weapon systems. This vehicle has already found its customers in Poland and the Middle East, for example, and may find its application in the Czech army in the future. Another military Tatra vehicle was presented by Trucks Service Group, namely the Tatra Force with a hook loader.

Foto: Nová Tatra Force 3. generace, vlevo pancéřované vozidlo Patriot 4x4 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: New Tatra Force 3rd generation, on the left armored vehicle Patriot 4x4 | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

This year, visitors could see a selected portfolio of equipment, weapons and techniques, including a dynamic demonstration of the work of the Military Police, which was presented by the press and information officer of the Military Police, Capt. "The demonstration was performed by the Emergency Department of the Military Police Headquarters in Tábor and it was about the liberation of a coalition soldier who had been captured by an organized group, which is also engaged in illegal arms trade on the territory of a foreign country."

Foto: Momentka z dynamické ukázky Vojenské policie | Petr Růžek / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: Moment from the dynamic demonstration of the Military Police | Petr Růžek / CZ DEFENCE

The Czech company Bohemia Interactive offered an interesting exposition, especially for younger visitors. The company launched itself on the market with the development of the computer game Operation Flashpoint, which subsequently took off as a simulator for various armies around the world. Nowadays, the company focuses exclusively on games and, as marketing manager Lukáš Karel told us, the company tries to approach war games responsibly and without glorification. "In our ARMA 3, we even had a game expansion called Laws of War, in which we showed the work of the different forces that try to help in war zones," revealed Lukáš Karel, who also pointed out the risks of misusing these games. "Our titles very often appear in fake news. Even in big foreign TV channels you can see footage that looks like real footage from military conflicts, but in reality it is footage from our ARMA 3," said Lukáš Karel, adding that it is then difficult for the company to explain that it is not reality, but only a game. However, he said, due to the open nature of the game, this misuse cannot be completely prevented.

The state enterprise VOP CZ brought its autonomous vehicle TAROS V4 of the fourth generation to the Bahna. The six-wheeled version was then presented by the company's PR manager Rostislav Rožnovský: "We managed to successfully move the whole project forward so that we could present it in the final form. We have already presented it at the conference of the liaison troops in Lipnik." According to him, the six-wheeled version of the robotic vehicle is primarily intended for the logistics superstructure. Anything can be placed on the already known four-wheeled version - a manipulator, various jammers, etc., depending on the customer's needs. 

Foto: Státní podnik VOP CZ přivezl na Bahna své autonomní vozidlo TAROS V4 čtvrté generace | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: State enterprise VOP CZ brought its autonomous vehicle TAROS V4 of the fourth generation to the Bahna event | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

This year's Bahna for CZ DEFENCE was subsequently evaluated by Commander of the Ground Forces of the Czech Armed Forces Major General Roman Náhončík: "Dynamic demonstrations of the Czech Armed Forces were presented, for example, by the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, the 7th Mechanised Brigade in the strength of a tank battalion, the 43rd Airborne Regiment, the 13th Artillery Regiment in cooperation with the 73rd Battalion at the opening and as part of the demonstration of their dynamic part. The 15th Engineer Regiment had a static demonstration here in the form of robots and assets, especially the new ones that the 15th Engineer Regiment has. Also, the 31st Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Regiment was here. The 53rd Electronic Warfare Reconnaissance Regiment was here to showcase more or less their new stuff like STARKOM and unmanned vehicles," the general summarized.

As we mentioned, this year's Bahna was also visited by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic and President of the Republic Petr Pavel. According to General Náhončík, he saw in particular the equipment, the new modern STARKOM jammer from the Czech Army's arsenal and also the Puma tracked infantry fighting vehicle from the arsenal of the 37th Mechanised Brigade of the Bundeswehr.

Foto: Letošní Bahna navštívil také vrchní velitel Ozbrojených sil ČR a prezident republiky Petr Pavel | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: This year's Bahna was also visited by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic and President of the Republic Petr Pavel | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

And how does Major General Roman Náhončík assess the readiness of the Czech Armed Forces? "When I took office, I set certain priorities. The first is always people. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is true. It's just that people come first, and today with the introduction of new technologies, you need to train them and it takes longer than it used to in the past. Because you need specialists in technology. They have to go through special training and so on. They need some practice and it takes time. In terms of the other things, which was the training itself, we've been able to conduct training within the coalition forces. If you want to build a collective defence, you have to train collectively," General Nahoncik said.

Foto: Letošní Bahna pro CZ DEFENCE zhodnotil velitel Pozemních sil AČR generálmajor Roman Náhončík | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: This year's Bahna for CZ DEFENCE was evaluated by the Commander of the Ground Forces of the Czech Armed Forces Major General Roman Náhončík | Jan Juřica / CZ DEFENCE

We also asked the organisers of Bahna event about their satisfaction with this year's event. Stanislav Drábek from the Foundation of the Army Ground Forces of the Czech Republic was satisfied with the course of this year's event and appreciated not only the steady interest of the public, but also the aforementioned visit of the President of the Republic. The theme of the historical programme of the next 35th edition in 2025 was then revealed by František Koch, the founder of Bahna event and director of the Museum on the Demarcation Line in Rokycany: "The theme will be May 1945 on the Demarcation Line. This means the meeting of American soldiers and members of the Red Army in May forty-five in Rokycany. Because Rokycany was the first town in our country where the Allies met."

 Author: Jan Zilvar

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