Education and Training
Much of the military education system developed since 1948
has been patterned on Soviet models with the assistance of Soviet
advisers. The same may be said of troop training programs in
garrison and in the field.
New inductees entered into a rigorous program from the start.
The first few days of military service were devoted to physical
examination, issuance of uniforms, and other routine matters.
During the first weeks, the conscripts underwent physical fitness
testing in order to discover deficiencies and to remedy them.
Initial training consisted of elementary drill and instruction on
customs of service. A typical daily schedule included six hours
of training, two hours of supervised political discussion, and
two hours of recreation. Part of each Saturday was devoted to
cleanup and inspection; the remainder of the weekend was free.
Not until the completion of the initial phase of the training
were new soldiers sworn into service. The swearing in and the
taking of the oath to defend the homeland constituted a
ceremonial occasion to which parents and close relatives were
invited. After the ceremony, training for combat became the
full-time, six-days-a-week occupation of most conscripts for the
duration of their active duty.
The training year was divided into four phases, the first of
devoted to individual training. In this initial phase, trainees
received extensive physical fitness training and learned to
handle individual weapons. During this period, conscripts went on
progressively longer forced marches carrying field packs and
practiced live firing of rifles, pistols, and submachine guns. In
the second phase of the training year, trainees received platoon
and company training and learned to handle crew-served weapons.
The third phase stressed battalion-level exercises wherein the
companies learned to coordinate actions to achieve various
military objectives. The culmination of the training year was the
large unit--division or higher--exercise where combined arms
operations were stressed under conditions simulating actual
combat. Exercises were critiqued in detail for the ultimate
edification of company grade officers who, with the assistance of
the regular NCOs, became responsible for the retraining of their
units to correct deficiencies and avoid repeating mistakes in
Training programs were similar in all Warsaw Pact member
states, and all followed the Soviet lead. The training program
was based on the principle that a soldier should be either
training to fight or fighting. There were few frills for the
conscripts of the Warsaw Pact forces; free time, furloughs,
recreational programs, and the like ranged from minimal to
nonexistent. Conscripts spent their time training or working;
much time was spent in the field, where military leaders believe
that their armies are honed for tasks of the modern battlefield.
In addition to the subjects commonly studied by soldiers around
the world, Warsaw Pact conscripts also received considerable
political propaganda, which was repeated to the point of tedium.
Common propaganda themes included the importance of
Marxism-Leninism in the training of the armed forces, the leading
role of the party in "the building of an advanced socialist
army," and praise of the Soviet forces that liberated the country
from the Nazis.
The culmination of the training cycle was reached during the
increasingly frequent Warsaw Pact exercises involving
Czechoslovak and Soviet forces as well as those of one or several
other Warsaw Pact members. Winter exercises held in February 1987
involved only the CSLA and units of the Central Group of Forces.
The Friendship 86 exercises, on the other hand, involved
Czechoslovak and Hungarian forces as well as the Soviet forces
stationed in Czechoslovakia. The Friendship exercises, which were
held in western Bohemia near Doupov and Melnik, consisted of
three parts: countering an enemy attack; crossing the Labe River
near Melnik, north of Prague; and making a mechanized
counterattack with all service branches participating. Another
large operation was the Friendship 79 winter exercises in which
various armies practiced with live ammunition while undergoing
simulated nuclear and chemical attack. In this particular
exercise, Soviet units were responsible for the decontamination
of Warsaw Pact armies. Czechoslovak forces, however, did receive
regular training in decontamination procedures and were
frequently tested on their proficiency.
Data as of August 1987