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Czechoslovakia Ground Forces
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Of the approximately 201,000 personnel on active duty in the CSLA in 1987, about 145,000, or about 72 percent, served in the ground forces (commonly referred to as the army). About 100,000 of these were conscripts. As in other Warsaw Pact armed forces, the army was by far the largest service. In Czechoslovakia the army was divided into three categories: arms (zbrane), auxiliary arms (pomocne), and services (sluzby). The arms included infantry, armor, artillery, and engineers. Auxiliary arms included the signal, chemical, and transportation branches. The service branches provided the CSLA with medical, veterinarian, ordnance, quartermaster, administration, justice, and topographic services. Patterned after the Soviet model, the rear services of the CSLA were responsible for the procurement of weapons, ammunition, military equipment, and other supplies needed by the armed forces. Some of the equipment required was produced within Czechoslovakia, while the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact states supplied the remainder needed.

    Tactical organization followed the Soviet pattern except for some minor local variations and modifications for differences in equipment. Many of the small arms and lighter, crew-served weapons used by the Czechoslovak forces were manufactured locally, sometimes requiring slight changes from the Soviet norm of organization for small units. The primary strength of the army in 1987 was in five tank divisions, five motorized rifle divisions, one airborne regiment, six engineering brigades, and one artillery division consisting of two antitank regiments, two conventional artillery brigades, and three surface-to-surface missile brigades. One of the tank divisions and three of the motorized rifle divisions were considered to be category one, that is, at full strength and fully equipped. The remaining divisions were maintained at lower manning levels--category two or three--that is, between one-third and three-quarters manpower strength, but with full equipment, although some of it might have been obsolete. Full strength of a tank division was estimated at about 11,000 officers and men; that of a motorized rifle division at 14,000 (see fig. 16).

    In keeping with Soviet doctrine, both kinds of Czechoslovak divisions were tank-heavy organizations. Motorized rifle divisions possessed 266 tanks; tank divisions possessed 335. (A United States armored division had 324 tanks, only 11 fewer than a Warsaw Pact tank division, but the American organization had about 7,300 more personnel.) In 1987, the Czechoslovak army possessed 3,000 T-54s and T-55s that were acquired during the 1960s. During the mid-1980s, the T-55s underwent modification, which indicated that the CSLA intended to keep them in service into the 1990s. The Czechoslovak tank inventory also included about 500 T-72s, a model that appeared in Soviet units in the early 1970s and began to be seen in Warsaw Pact armies about 1980. Czechoslovakia and Poland reportedly are jointly building the T-72.

    The CSLA's artillery inventory in 1987 included 250 M-53 (100mm), 100 M-1931 and M-1937 (122mm), and 75 M-46 (130mm) guns. It also included 90 M-137 (152mm) gun-howitzers and 250 D-30 (105mm), M-30 (122mm) towed, and M-1974 (122mm) self-propelled howitzers, plus 175 DANA (M-77) (152mm) Tatra 813 truck-mounted, self-propelled howitzers. Introduction of the heavy Soviet M-240 (240mm) self-propelled mortar began in late 1986 or early 1987; it will probably be employed with the 2S7 (203mm) self-propelled gun that was known to have been in use in 1986. These two weapons may be scheduled to use nuclear munitions. In 1986 the CSLA also possessed 200 RM-70 (122mm) and 120 M-51 (130mm) multiple rocket launchers and 40 FROG, 4 SS-21, and 27 Scud surface-to-surface missiles. Replacement of Scud-B missiles with SS-23 missiles and the installation of SS-12Ms began in 1986. All these missiles are nuclear capable. Antitank weapons included P-27 (112mm) grenade launchers, 100 82mm recoilless launchers, and AT-3 Sagger, AT-4 Spigot, and AT-5 Spandrel antitank guided weapons. Air defense weaponry consisted of 575 S-60 (57mm) towed and M-53/59 (30mm) self-propelled antiaircraft guns, as well as 175 SA-4, SA-6, SA7 , SA-8, SA-9, and SA-13 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Reconnaissance units in the CSLA possessed 1,250 OT-65 and BRDM scout cars. Motorized infantry units were equipped with 1,100 BVP-1 and 50 BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles and 2,500 OT-62, OT64 , and OT-810 armored personnel carriers. Although the CSLA imported much of its ground forces weaponry from the Soviet Union, domestic industry supplied a good portion of the army's needs. This included small-caliber weapons and various models of guns, howitzers, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, antiaircraft guns, and armored personnel carriers. The CSLA received equipment from other non-Soviet Warsaw Pact countries. Czechoslovakia, in turn, exported its weaponry to both other Warsaw Pact nations and the Third World.

    One Western analyst has noted that the CSLA's artillery holdings in 1986 were 60 percent of that possessed by a Soviet 10-division, 2-army front. This disparity, plus the decided inferiority of the T-54/55 tanks to NATO's tanks, could cause the CSLA serious difficulties in the event of war with the West.

    Data as of August 1987

    NOTE: The information regarding Czechoslovakia on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Czechoslovakia Ground Forces information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Czechoslovakia Ground Forces should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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