Czechoslovakia Table of Contents
In 1987 all male students had to take basic premilitary subjects in the last three years of the regular nine-year primary school. According to some critics, however, such training was uneven and inconsistent among the various school districts, and teachers at schools of all levels lacked sufficient training. Military education took up only twenty-five hours a year and included medical, civil defense, topographic, weapons firing, and basic training.
In 1987 the largest paramilitary organization in Czechoslovakia was the Association for Cooperation with the Army (Svaz pro spolupraci s armadou--SVAZARM). Established in 1951, SVAZARM was a carbon copy of the Soviet Union's All-Union Voluntary Society for the Promotion of the Army, Air Force, and Navy. SVAZARM claimed a membership in 1985 of a little over 1 million; 60 percent of the members were under 35 years of age, 43 percent under 20 years, and 18 percent under 15 years. This organization popularized defense training through special interest groups that centered mostly on sports, some of the groups having direct military application. As of 1987, for example, SVAZARM recruited and trained pilot conscripts for the Higher Military Aviation School in Kosice. The training included at least twenty flight hours of advanced glider training and thirty-seven to forty hours of basic training on motorized airplanes, as well as the necessary aviation theory. Additional skills taught by SVAZARM that had direct military applicability included parachuting, rifleshooting, doghandling, and amateur radio operation. Other activities, for example, automobile driving and airplane modeling, were of dubious value to the military. In fact, one Western observer has called SVAZARM "a huge (and prosperous) sports and recreational organization, only 'paramilitary' in the broadest sense of the word."
Other organizations involved with paramilitary training, including civil defense training, were the Revolutionary Trade Union Movement, the Czechoslavak Socialist Union of Youth, the Pioneers organization, and the Czechoslovak Physical Culture Association. They appear to have played a secondary role to SVAZARM in this regard. During the mid-1980s, Czechoslovak military officers frequently complained that young draftees were physically soft. They were said to lack basic military knowledge and to regard service as an obligation to be endured rather than as a patriotic duty. These complaints mirrored those made in the 1970s despite subsequent increases in the amount of paramilitary education in the secondary schools, in the attention paid to physical education curricula, in the activities of paramilitary organizations, and in propaganda efforts that attempted to instill in youth a positive attitude toward service in the armed forces. Many adults were said to view paramilitary training as useless or ineffective against weapons of mass destruction. Some employers who were responsible for such training were said merely to go through the motions of instruction and even to look for excuses to prevent conscripts and reservists from participating.
Data as of August 1987