Czechs to participate in the new 'Resolute Support' mission which replaces the ISAF operation in Afghanistan

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

In 2015, when the ISAF mission is completed, and training, advice and assistance for the Afghan security forces and institutions will continue through a new, follow-on NATO-led mission called 'Resolute Support',

Czech military personnel will continue to support the Afghan government in their efforts to restore a safer environment to their country by training local forces and assisting in joint force protection.

The history of Czech military involvement in ISAF, originally an operation under a UN mandate, began in 2002 when the Czech Republic deployed their military field hospital and field surgical team to Kabul International Airport (KAIA).

The Czech contribution to ISAF has continued until now, without interruption, since 2003 when NATO assumed command of the operation. The use of Czech Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists and meteorologists intensified its presence, first at KAIA, and then expanded outside Kabul to other Afghan provinces while, at the same time, assuming more specific tasks and responsibilities.

The first experience for Czech personnel outside Kabul was their participation in the German-run Provincial Reconstruction Team which was based in Fayzabad, in the Badakhshan Province, where soldiers of the 102nd Recce Battalion guarded the base, along with German and Danish soldiers.

The number of Czech soldiers assisting in the ISAF mission continued to rise after 2006, when they covered the Lead Nation task and began leading the command at KAIA, followed by a contingent of the field hospital, a unit of chemical specialists, a meteorologist team, a mentoring team focused on training Afghan pilots, and ground specialists to maintain the helicopters Mil-17 and Mil-34/35. Four contingents of the Special Operations Group of the Czech Military Police also rotated in the Helmand Province.

The Czech Republic hoped to eventually run its own Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan, and this was achieved in 2008 when Czech civilian and military personnel became fully responsible for the reconstruction projects of the Logar Province, south-east of Kabul, and it's protection. The PRT became the CR's longest serving unit in the country, and had the highest number of personnel. The reconstruction projects, which were successfully accomplished, have significantly helped Afghan people in their daily lives.

Since 2013, the Czech Republic has pursued the NATO and Allied policy of transferring responsibility for the security and development of the country to the local Afghan government and forces. The Czech PRT came to an end, but several contingents of the Operational Mentoring Liaison Team, the Military Advisory Team, and the Air Advisory Team continued to support the Afghan combat battalions in the planning and command processes during training sessions and, also, in real-life clashes with insurgents.

Czech soldiers have also served in the Uruzgan, Paktika and Wardak provinces, where they passed on their knowledge and experience to the personnel of the Afghan National Security Forces.

At present, the largest Czech military unit in ISAF is the Bagram Air Field Task Force who assist in the protection of the largest Allied base in the Parwan Province.

Although the Czech Armed Forces have lost ten soldiers in Afghanistan, and dozens more wounded either by suicide bombers or in other incidents, it will continue to participate in the follow-up allied operation 'Resolute Support', in the unwavering determination that the Czech Republic can help promote a safer environment in Afghanistan, thereby ensuring a better future for the Afghan people.

December 29, 2014