The Czech Republic on Friday announced a 30% boost in the size of its armed forces, a day after the government approved a hike in defense spending.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said the number of people in the armed forces would rise from around 23,000 today to 30,000 within the next five to seven years.
“The Czech army is currently among the smallest in Europe in relation to its population,” he said in a passing-out parade at a military school in Brno. The Czech Republic has a population of 10.5 million.
“The list of wanted professions is very wide,” he said. “We need drivers as much as we need surgeons and pilots.”
On Thursday, Stropnicky and Finance Minister Ivan Pilný announced the defense budget would be increased to 1.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. It currently stands at 1.0%.
On Monday, the government approved the purchase of 80 Italian-made light armored vehicles and 62 multirole armored vehicles, sourced from French and Czech companies, for a total of €350 million.