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Czech army deploys paratroopers of 43rd Airborne Regiment to reinforce NATO battlegroup in Slovakia.

| 2022

According to a statement published by the Czech Ministry of Defense on April 7, 2022, the service members forming the Czech Armed Forces 1st Contingent NATO enhanced Vigilance Activity (eVA) Battle Group Slovakia departed from Pardubice and Chrudim. 
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Soldiers from the 43rd Airborne Battalion from the Czech army. (Picture source Czech MoD)

The contingent commanding officer Colonel Tomáš Unzeitig and the service personnel forming the command of the Multinational Battle Group eVA took off from the Pardubice based Operations Support Centre. Airborne soldiers who will form the core of the multinational combined infantry battalion started out from the barracks of the 43rd Airborne Regiment in Chrudim with commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Ivo Zelinka.

General Aleš Opata saluted the paras before their departure. “It is a historical moment and an expression of NATO’s confidence in our abilities, based on which we were entrusted with the development of the battlegroup. We were able to form the whole contingent in a very short period of time. Airborne soldiers deploy to Slovakia till June and then will be relieved by a mechanized unit with Pandurs,” the General Opata commented on the new mission for the Czech Armed Forces.

The eVA Battlegroup’s Initial Operational Capability will first be provided by 250 service members. The strength will progressively increase to 650 personnel at the end of June to achieve the Full Operational Capability.

The NATO eVA Battle Group Slovakia will be under Czech command and its first commanding officer is Colonel Unzeitig, the Deputy Commander of the 31st Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Regiment based in Liberec. The Battle Group will comprise of service personnel from Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States. With the mandate endorsed by the Slovak Parliament, the Battle Group may comprise up to 2,100 personnel.

“Our Armed Forces already have experience with commanding multinational operations. This is the first time a NATO operation is prepared and developed with the participation of NATO nations under the Czech command,“ Colonel Unzeitig expanded. “The primary mission is to manifest readiness, resolve, and unity of the nations to defend NATO’s territorial integrity. This is a NATO multinational operation designed to enhance the defense capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic.“

The Czech contingent will be at least 400 strong, including a Military Police team plus combat support and combat support service units. Its first commanding officer is Lieutenant Colonel Ivo Zelinka, the Deputy Commander of the 43rd Airborne Regiment.

“The mission of the combined infantry battalion will be to deter potential opponents and, should the security situation deteriorate, to defend the Alliance’s borders. For that, I have a mandate for maneuver across the whole territory of the Slovak Republic,“ Lieutenant Colonel Zelinka explained.

As part of building up to the required full operational capability, the unit will increase its personnel strength with the new rotation involving the service members of the mechanized battalion of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade.

The formation of a battle group in Slovakia is a part of the Alliance’s overall endeavor to strengthen its Eastern Flank in response to the worsened security situation in Ukraine. NATO, therefore, decided to create a permanent Allied presence in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria under the umbrella name of enhanced Vigilance Activities (eVA).

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