Czechoslovakia Table of Contents
Much of the military education system developed since 1948 has been patterned on Soviet models with the assistance of Soviet advisers. The same may be said of troop training programs in garrison and in the field.
New inductees entered into a rigorous program from the start. The first few days of military service were devoted to physical examination, issuance of uniforms, and other routine matters. During the first weeks, the conscripts underwent physical fitness testing in order to discover deficiencies and to remedy them. Initial training consisted of elementary drill and instruction on customs of service. A typical daily schedule included six hours of training, two hours of supervised political discussion, and two hours of recreation. Part of each Saturday was devoted to cleanup and inspection; the remainder of the weekend was free. Not until the completion of the initial phase of the training were new soldiers sworn into service. The swearing in and the taking of the oath to defend the homeland constituted a ceremonial occasion to which parents and close relatives were invited. After the ceremony, training for combat became the full-time, six-days-a-week occupation of most conscripts for the duration of their active duty.
The training year was divided into four phases, the first of which was devoted to individual training. In this initial phase, trainees received extensive physical fitness training and learned to handle individual weapons. During this period, conscripts went on progressively longer forced marches carrying field packs and practiced live firing of rifles, pistols, and submachine guns. In the second phase of the training year, trainees received platoon and company training and learned to handle crew-served weapons. The third phase stressed battalion-level exercises wherein the companies learned to coordinate actions to achieve various military objectives. The culmination of the training year was the large unit--division or higher--exercise where combined arms operations were stressed under conditions simulating actual combat. Exercises were critiqued in detail for the ultimate edification of company grade officers who, with the assistance of the regular NCOs, became responsible for the retraining of their units to correct deficiencies and avoid repeating mistakes in future exercises.
Training programs were similar in all Warsaw Pact member states, and all followed the Soviet lead. The training program was based on the principle that a soldier should be either training to fight or fighting. There were few frills for the conscripts of the Warsaw Pact forces; free time, furloughs, recreational programs, and the like ranged from minimal to nonexistent. Conscripts spent their time training or working; much time was spent in the field, where military leaders believe that their armies are honed for tasks of the modern battlefield. In addition to the subjects commonly studied by soldiers around the world, Warsaw Pact conscripts also received considerable political propaganda, which was repeated to the point of tedium. Common propaganda themes included the importance of Marxism-Leninism in the training of the armed forces, the leading role of the party in "the building of an advanced socialist army," and praise of the Soviet forces that liberated the country from the Nazis.
The culmination of the training cycle was reached during the increasingly frequent Warsaw Pact exercises involving Czechoslovak and Soviet forces as well as those of one or several other Warsaw Pact members. Winter exercises held in February 1987 involved only the CSLA and units of the Central Group of Forces. The Friendship 86 exercises, on the other hand, involved Czechoslovak and Hungarian forces as well as the Soviet forces stationed in Czechoslovakia. The Friendship exercises, which were held in western Bohemia near Doupov and Melnik, consisted of three parts: countering an enemy attack; crossing the Labe River near Melnik, north of Prague; and making a mechanized counterattack with all service branches participating. Another large operation was the Friendship 79 winter exercises in which various armies practiced with live ammunition while undergoing simulated nuclear and chemical attack. In this particular exercise, Soviet units were responsible for the decontamination of Warsaw Pact armies. Czechoslovak forces, however, did receive regular training in decontamination procedures and were frequently tested on their proficiency.
Data as of August 1987
Czechoslovakia Table of Contents