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Breakup of Army Is Technically Smooth, Socially Rough


AFTER the Czechoslovak military officially splits Jan. 1, Lt. Branko Toman will return to his native Slovakia to serve in the new Army there. He is happy to leave the rabbit warren of apartment houses in Prague as well as the pollution here, and he thinks he will have better career opportunities among his own countrymen in the Slovak Army.

But he does have misgivings. For instance, he is supposed to be in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, Jan. 3, but he still has no apartment for his family of four. With the bulk of the military infrastructure located in the Czech Republic, the fledgling Slovak Army has nothing to offer him but a one-room studio normally used for bachelor officers.

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"If I don't find an apartment," he says, "I'll have to leave the Army, go to the civil sector, and earn the money for a flat."

With difficulties like this, it is no wonder that only a small portion of the 6,500 Slovak officers in the Czech Republic want to go back to Slovakia, while most of the Czech officers in Slovakia want to return to the Czech Republic.

According to Gen. Frantisek Vana, commander in chief of the emerging Czech Army military headquarters, "The [federal] Army has not been difficult to divide from a technical point of view. What's been the most difficult has been the division from a social point of view."

By that he means problems like Lieutenant Toman's: finding housing for relocating officers and jobs for their spouses. Because an independent Slovakia will be much poorer than the Czech Republic, "We can't exclude differences in social security and salaries of both republics," General Vana adds.

"The politicians can't imagine how difficult this is," says Vana, who was also involved in the negotiations to split the 139,000-strong federal Army into a Czech force of 93,000 men and a Slovak force of 43,000.

The dominant view among the politicians in both republics as well as among diplomatic observers is that the breakup of the federal Army has been surprisingly smooth. "We expected more problems," says Jiri Schneider, spokesman for Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus.

SO far, according to Vana, war planes, armored vehicles, tanks, missiles, and the infantry have been redeployed along the agreed 2-to-1 ratio. "After Jan. 1, there will be no more big transfers," Vana says.

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The Czech Republic, meanwhile, has said that those Slovak officers who want to take on Czech citizenship can remain in the Czech Army.

Essentially, the split of the military means Czechs will have to downsize while Slovaks will have to build an army from the ground up.

"Dividing of federal property also requires certain costs," says Alzbeta Borzova, vice president of the Slovak Democratic Left Party (the former Commu- nists), who points out that the split leaves Slovakia with the expense of establishing its own ministry of defense, build up combat units, and buy technology.

Under Communist rule, the full force of the military was concentrated in the Czech lands, the part of Czechoslovakia which abuts the West. Slovakia, to the east, had little in the way of military infrastructure, although it was - and remains - a weapons producer. For example, the 229 war planes that have been deployed to Slovakia since the start of December are lined up on airfields because there are no hangars to house them.

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