The Czech Armed Forces servicemembers home-based in Strakonice have served four months as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania by now. Since this has been the historically first operational deployment for the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment, they have gained valuable lessons thanks to serving in the Baltics. The key takeaway for them is from operating together with the land forces of other NATO nations. The primary mission for the Czech Armed Forces’ deployment is to provide ground-based air defense coverage to the land Battle Group, which they have already honed in multiple common exercises. The most important was to exercise Iron Wolf that certified the multinational task force, including the Czech service personnel, for combat-ready status.
“During our training activity in Lithuania, we are practicing cooperation with land forces, which we do not exercise that much intensively back home in the Czech Republic. We are involved in the whole process of preparation and operation conduct, spanning from planning through to the very mission performance, which is to provide Ground Based Air Defence to the whole Battle Group. I have a unique opportunity to obtain in-depth familiarity with the tactics of land forces, both in the open field and in defense of urban areas,“ fire battery commander Captain T. R. explained the greatest benefit of the mission for the service members.
The Czech Task Force is centered around a firing battery equipped with RBS-70 air defense missile systems, and command and control systems. Operating in the order of battle of ground forces and protecting them against aerial threats, that is where soldiers serving in the battery gain valuable experience. The battery commander also recognized the value of desktop training activities organized for the commanding officers to expand the knowledge they need for the successful accomplishment of their mission. The deployment of the Czech GBAD unit in Lithuania also benefits their international partners.
NATO nations deployed here do not have that much operational experience with forces equipped with a very short-range air defense missile system. Sharing of experience is not limited to field training only. An important linchpin is also sport, as it offers opportunities for service members from various NATO nations to get to know each other better and test their skills and abilities in various contests, such as the Best Infantry Squad Competition, the Murphy Challenge, and Baltic Warrior. Czech service members took part in all those contests. Although they did not have any extensive experience beforehand, they managed to place ahead of teams who had prepared themselves specifically for those competitions.