The Army of the Czech Republic (Czech: Armáda České republiky) comprise the land forces, the Czech Air Force and support units. From the late 1940s to 1989, the extensive Czechoslovak Armed Forces (about 200,000) formed one of the pillars of the Warsaw Pact military alliance. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic is completing a major reorganisation and reduction of the armed forces, which intensified after the Czech Republic joined NATO on March 12, 1999.
The Czechoslovak Armed Forces were originally formed after 1918. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1938, Czechoslovak units and formations served with the French Army, the Royal Air Force, the British Army (the 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade), and the Red Army (I Corps). Four Czech and Slovak-manned RAF squadrons were transferred to Czechoslovak control in late 1945. During the Cold War the Army was known as the Czechoslovak People's Army. "Of the approximately 201,000 personnel on active duty in the CSLA in 1987, about 145,000, or about 72 percent, served in the ground forces (commonly referred to as the army). About 100,000 of these were conscripts." There were two military districts, Western and Eastern. A 1989 listing of forces shows two Czech armies in the west, the 1st at Pribram with one tank division and three motor rifle divisions, the 4th at Pisek with two tank divisions and two motor rifle divisions. In the Eastern Military District, there were two tank divisions, the 13th and 14th, with a supervisory headquarters at Trencin in the east of the country.
The Army of the Czech Republic was formed after the Czechoslovak Armed Forces split after the 1 January 1993 dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Czech forces stood at 90,000 in 1993. They were reduced to around 65,000 in eleven combat brigades and the Air Force in 1997, to 63,601 in 1999, and to 35,000 in 2005. At the same time, the forces were modernized and reoriented towards a defensive posture. In 2004 the army transformed itself into a fully professional organization and compulsory military service was abolished. The Army maintains an Active Reserve.
The Czech Republic is a member of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Since 1990, the ACR and the Czech Armed Forces have contributed to numerous peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, including IFOR, SFOR, and EUFOR Althea in Bosnia, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey, Pakistan and with the Coalition forces in Iraq.
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