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Czech MPs not so special

Attempt to transform the military police into a Special Op unit fails.

PRAGUE — An attempt to expand the fighting capabilities of the Czech Republic's military police into the realm of special operations forces has ended in failure.

The defense ministry announced this week that their military police will no longer be trained for special operations tasks, nor be assigned to carry them out in the field, according to ministry spokesman Andrej Cirtek.

“They will return to their original purpose,” he said. “One unit should not mix police and special forces capabilities — it's nonsense.”

Typically military police function more-or-less like regular police — a law enforcement agency for the military. They protect VIPs, monitor traffic and undertake criminal investigations if they suspect military law has been violated. In Afghanistan they were also training locals in the ways and means of law enforcement.

But the special operations group in the military police was trained like a SWAT team, receiving instruction in hostage rescue, reconnaissance and interdiction. The special operations units had been cycling through Afghanistan until late last year.

The issue erupted into public view earlier this year when a leading newspaper here reported that Czech troops serving in Afghanistan had refused to go out on dangerous combat missions with their British counterparts.

British — as well as Czech — officials insist that never happened. British troops had no problems with their Czech counterparts, said Tim Wiseman, a spokesman for the British defense ministry on Afghanistan

“No allegations have been made against the SOG [special operations group] by the British Army,” he said in a prepared statement. “We were happy to have them serving as part of Task Force Helmand and we fully understood at the time why they were redeployed to Logar” he said, referring to two of the Afghan provinces.

But there was turmoil within the unit late last year about their assigned tasks, vis-a-vis their training. The Czech defense ministry is investigating what went wrong, according to Petr Sykora, another ministry spokesman.