Warning, this post is VERY picture heavy Hello everyone, this article will be from my personal experience with my own photos (so excuse their quality – did my best, but I just suck with a camera). Yesterday (7.5.2014), me, carramba66, CatfoodCZ, Clearevil and cNNk (two mods, OMG!) visited the 73rd Tank Batallion at Přáslavice. We were invited as VIP guests by the Československá Obec Legionářská (ČSLO) veteran organization as a reward for the charity for veterans we organized, which was recently concluded – it was supposed to be an “open day” at the unit (for public) and the some of the veterans themselves were to be present, when the unit formally thanks them for their service (since it was the day before the end of the war celebration here. Here is my account from the trip. The unit is located at Přáslavice (Moravia, near Olomouc) and it was the same unit that Wargaming visited not that long time ago (easy, since it’s the only unit equipped with the T-72M4CZ) – I learned some very interesting info about Wargaming and especially Czech community management from the trip by the way, more on that later. Anyway, the weather was nice (well, at the unit, everywhere else around the country it was raining, so good luck for me). We arrived at around 9AM (got up at 2AM, slept for two hours and the day before I had some others stuff to deal with, to say I was tired would be an understatement). The unit entrance is “guarded” by a (post-war produced) T-34/85 tank, painted as one of the tanks that entered Prague in 1945 and took part in its liberation from nazi occupants. After passing the checkpoint, we arrived at the point where we were to meet the ČSLO representatives and the veterans. This is how the unit vehicle park depot looks: It was a bit chaotic, with the veterans arriving in batches, heading into the unit mess hall for a short refreshment, while we kinda just gawked around, taking pictures and such. The trip was obviously quite exhausting for the 90 year old men. After a short while, we all headed to the parade site. The parade itself had several parts and I am ashamed to say I don’t remember exactly how they went after each other. First, the unit commander welcomed the troops that returned from their tour in Afghanistan. The veterans were invited to stand on the tribune, which was an honour, but for 90 year old men to stand during the 30 minute ceremony… it was kinda brutal. The unit commander then did have a speech about the past, the ending of WW2 and that despite hard times (unit commander admitting in an official speech the times are hard for the army, that was sort of unexpected), the army must fulfill its duty and such stuff – the then thanked the veterans for their service. Several soldiers of the unit were cited and recieved a commendation. Then the local town mayor and the ČSLO representative talked and awarded the 37rd TB unit with a special “veteran ribbon” to its banner. It was actually really interesting to witness this ceremony, although the presence of the liaison officer arranging the trip was distracting – she was really hot. Either way, at the end of the ceremony, the ČSLO representative, Mr.Hozlár, officially thanked us for the charity from the tribune and the batallion commander came to chat with us and shake our hands. I must admit, it was a very nice feeling. After the (let’s admit, nice but a bit awkward) hand shaking, the soldiers brought their vehicles and guns to show to the veterans and us (this apparently wasn’t for public, just for the vets and us, because they drove them away after we left). Specifically, we saw (touched, climbed on, manipulated) following things: - T-72M4CZ (upgraded T-72M1 – active and upgraded armor, FCS, new power pack and some electronic gadgets, we (Czechs) only have like 30 of those, their development and manufacture was insanely expensive and after the cancellation of mass orders of tanks for the army, the price of development had to be split between the 30 pieces. Corruption played a role as well of course.) - BVP-2 (upgraded BMP-2) - New CZ508 “Bren” assault rifle (it’s not exactly lighter than the classic SA-58 and ridden with issues, such as the first batch of magazines was incompatible with NATO standard etc.) - RPG-75 - Dragunov sniper rifle (the army is supposed to recieve new sniper rifles, the rifle looked very used) Some of the veterans were very excited about the new tech – they weren’t up to speed with weapon modern development and asked a lot of questions – the soldiers patiently answered, it was actually really nice. BVP-2 details (it is VERY cramped) Here, a soldier explains to us, how the new CZ508 assault rifle works (they tinkered around a bit with the grenade launcher as well). As I wrote, it’s pretty heavy. The man in the background with the RPG is Mr.Hozlár from the ČSLO organization – a former soldier and veteran of missions abroad, he helped to organize the charity on ČSLO side, overseeing (along with Clearevil, who attended every veteran meeting personally) the entire thing, arranging the gift deliveries and such. After spending some time around the vehicles and talking to the soldiers present there, we learned of the conditions in the unit, which are… less than ideal, there are very strict limits on training times, fuel and other issues I probably shouldn’t write about. I guess it’s like this in every army, limited by the European budget. The soldiers are clearly doing their best to cope with the situation, but everyone admits it’s tough (this is combined with the contempt a lot of Czechs hold the army in due to our involvement abroad, especially in Afghanistan and due to well-known large amounts of corruption in the military purchases, which did lead to some ridiculous spendings over the year, while the rest of the army suffers). We also learned that a LOT of soldiers from the unit are World of Tanks players – one for example loves the E-25, so we had a chat about that. A couple of them remembered how Wargaming visited their unit (apparently, Challenger was handing out bonus codes to soldiers in… large quantities :) One of the tankers tried to get in touch with him, but he was apparently busy) We did not fail to mention how WG EU screwed us over with the charity (I mentioned it several times in the charity posts), needless to say, this did not amuse Continue reading →

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