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Czech MPs not so special

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

“They're trying to determine what happened, and what were the main problems, and the cause of the problems,” he said, adding that the investigation could be concluded in the coming weeks.

SWAT team skills, which the units were being trained in, do not necessarily mesh with classic military combat skills.

So while the troops apparently went on their assigned missions — as part of the U.S.-led Enduring Freedom operations — many apparently had misgivings about their assignments.

“There were conflicts inside the unit over what its core business is and what it should do,” Cirtek said.

Ministry officials were circumspect about what — if any — disciplinary action would be taken against soldiers or officers as a result of the on-going investigation. But Antonin Seda, a Social Democrat who sits on the defense committee in parliament, expects a shake-up in the army as as result of the ministry investigation. One "good" result of this, he said, would be the departure — forced or otherwise — of many from the army.

When the tour of duty for the last special operations group — about 35 troops — ended late last year, the unit was effectively shelved, as no special operations group has returned to Afghanistan. Of the 1,500 or so military police in the Czech army, only about 100 were part of the special groups — and they were divided into three rotating units.

All told the Czech have just 435 troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. has about 23,000 troops, while NATO allies have another 55,000.

For now the international reputation of the Czech military seems to be in tact, said Olivier Grouille, a defense expert at the Royal United Service Institute, a British think-tank.

“There is a high regard for the Czech army as an institution,” he said. “There's no whispering campaign on the side about their willingness to fight.”

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