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Czech Republic Hopes to Deepen Military Ties With the U.S.

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted an enhanced honor cordon today, welcoming Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova to the Pentagon. 

People stand in formation.
Honor Cordon
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts an enhanced honor cordon, welcoming Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova to the Pentagon, April 21, 2022.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 220421-D-UB488-001A

Cernochova has confirmed the Czech Republic's intention to sign the Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.  

"We believe that the [agreement] will deepen our mutual cooperation not only as NATO allies but at the same time in the fielding of our armed forces modernization efforts," she said, noting that her country wishes to replace its obsolete Soviet-era equipment with modern military hardware. 

The Soviet-era military equipment is now being put to good use as the Czech Republic has been sharing it with Ukraine, which is familiar with its use, she said. 

"The Czech Republic is ready to send more military equipment to Ukraine," she added. 

Cernochova said that she would also like to sign the reciprocal Defense Procurement Agreement that will enable the Czech defense industry to participate in U.S. defense procurement programs. 

The defense minister said that although her country has about 10 million people, the Czech Republic has taken in around 300,000 Ukrainian refugees. 

Jets fly.
Flying Formation
Czech Air Force Saab JAS-39 Gripens fly in formation over the Czech Republic, March 29, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Wright
VIRIN: 220329-F-CD213-1234C

Cernochova said the Czech Republic will fulfill its pledge to reach 2% of its gross domestic product in defense spending by 2025.  

Austin said: "I applaud the Czech Republic's leadership [for] standing up against Russian aggression and standing strong with our fellow NATO allies to defend peace and security in Europe." 

The secretary commended the Czech Republic for providing security assistance and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, enhancing deterrence on NATO's eastern flank and serving as a framework nation in the new NATO battlegroup in Slovakia. 

The Czech Republic, Austin noted, also has a state partnership with both the Texas and Nebraska National Guards. 

A man smiles.
Frantisek Moravec
Frantisek Moravec in 1952.
Photo By: Library of Congress
VIRIN: 520410-O-D0439-001

Austin mentioned that this is a solemn visit by Cernochova to the U.S., as she's also here to repatriate the ashes of Czechoslovak Gen. Frantisek Moravec, who fought the Germans during World War II. 

"I know that your nation remembers him for fighting the Nazis as a brave son of Czechoslovakia. Yet we also remember him here as a proud American citizen, who in his later years actually became a valued advisor for the Pentagon," Austin said. 

Austin noted the parallels of Ukraine's current plight with that of the Czech Republic over half a century ago. 

A war scene shows a tank burning in the street and citizens with a flag running along the sidewalk.
Invasion Protests
During the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovaks carry their national flag past a burning tank in the capital of Prague.
Photo By: Central Intelligence Agency
VIRIN: 680410-O-D0439-001

"I know that the Czech people hear history's echoes today. And we remember the bravery and the determination that the Czech people showed in 1968, when, as a part of Czechoslovakia, you face down invading tanks from Moscow. So, it's no surprise that you stood up for Ukraine's sovereignty and self-defense," he said. 

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