The Czech Republic is committed to NATO, and that is reflected in the strategic impact the nation has in Europe and elsewhere, a senior Pentagon official said today.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs and Andrew Winternitz, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy, welcomed Jakub Landovsky, the Czech Republic deputy defense minister and head of the Ministry of Defense’s Defense Policy and Strategy Division, to the U.S.-Czech Republic High Level Defense Group meeting in the Pentagon today.
The two sides also discussed cooperation on cyber defense, with Winternitz highlighting the leadership of the Czech Republic in identifying threats from China to information security in Europe as well as Prague hosting a conference next month on cyber issues.
Last month, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis met with President Donald J. Trump in the White House. The HLDG followed up on the White House meeting by discussing shared security issues, from great power competition and defeating terrorism to regional topics including, Afghanistan and Syria, DOD officials said.
“The Czech people are fully supportive of NATO and defense cooperation with the United States,” Landovsky said. “The United States and the Czech Republic both share strategic concerns such as transnational terrorism,” he added.
Czech soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States and partner nations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in Poland and the Baltic countries, and elsewhere, Landovsky noted.
He added that the Czech Republic intends to contribute its fair share to NATO, as it realizes the alliance’s value to collective defense. Ms. Wheelbarger expressed appreciation for the Czech Republic’s contributions to ongoing missions and welcomed the country’s commitment to meet its pledge to spend two percent of GDP on defense by 2024.
Last month marked the twentieth year since the Czech Republic joined NATO, Winternitz remarked. He and Landovsky said they look forward to welcoming more countries into the alliance in the future, particularly from the Balkans.
Winternitz said DOD looks forward to further visits from Czech leaders, such as the one that took place March 8, when Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Prime Minister Babis participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
National Guard leaders from Texas and Nebraska also attended today’s meeting. The Texas and Nebraska National Guards have been working with the Czech Armed Forces as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program for over 25 years.