Bill to ban alcohol from Czech military

Czech government approves new bill on professional military service, banning alcohol and confirming rights to contact home

Tom Jones 8.9.2011

The new proposed law on professional military service approved by the Czech coalition government on Thursday formally confirms the right of military personnel to be able to contact home and when on foreign missions. The proposal drafted by Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra and his team also places an outright ban on consumption of alcohol in the Czech Armed Forces.

While the new draft law stipulates the right of military personnel to be able to contact home when serving abroad, in practice Czech soldiers on foreign missions already have such possibilities.

“Contact is maintained by phone and via the Internet, as long as the barracks have a connection. The possibility to speak with one’s family is very important for soldiers on missions. Only until now it wasn’t defined by law,” communications manager for the general staff of the Czech Armed Forces, Jana Růžičková, told the server iDnes.cz on Thursday.

The draft law does not, however, state how many call minutes or time on line military personnel on foreign missions should be allowed.

The draft law on professional military service also doubles the amount of time the relevant military superiors are to be given to hand down punishments from 30 days from the moment a punishable act is uncovered, to 60 days. Similarly, superiors will be given 60 days to decide on complaints lodged by personnel, as opposed to the current limit of 30 days.

The bill also provides for the cancellation of an allowance of up to six times the minimal wage to cover expenses for “relocating in the important interests of service.” Next year, until the law is enacted, this allowance could reach up to Kč 51,000.

“The allowance for relocation fulfilled a function during the time prior to the introduction of contributions towards housing. Because the housing contribution also compensates for the costs to soldiers arising from relocation to a new place of service, the abolition of the relocation allowance is proposed, which will lead to savings of approx. Kč 12.5 million annually,” the authors of the new law wrote in the explanatory report accompanying the draft law.

The new law also bans the consumption of alcohol at all Czech military bases including for soldiers off duty. In 2009, Czech soldiers serving within the KFOR mission in Kosovo got involved in a widely publicized mass brawl with Finnish soldiers after drinking.