Docendo discimus – it was the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca who provided the motto and guiding principle for the Czech University of Defence (UoD) in Brno. Walter F Ullrich writes.
The institution was established less than a decade ago in September 2004. The Czech Republic was in the final phase of being integrated into Western world structures such as NATO and the European Union. There was so much to be done: the choice of the motto docendo discimus (by teaching we learn) could not have been more apropos.
The University of Defence (UoD) was founded as a direct consequence of the country’s accession to NATO, marking the end of a strenuous, decade-long transformation process during which Cold War structures – both psychological and organisational – were abolished and the armed forces modernised and standardised. Education was regarded as the driving factor in a continuous process that ensured interoperability with NATO allies. Three military education institutions that existed at the time were absorbed by the new establishment: the Military University of the Ground Forces Vyškov, the Military Academy Brno and the Military Medical Academy Hradec Králové. Each of these military education institutions had to modify its internal structure so that it matched the planned single institution. In the end, each of the three schools became a faculty within the new university. The establishment of the new university was part of the restructuring and streamlining process within military education in the Czech Republic. It happened in line with the Czech Armed Forces Reduction Programme and its transformation from a conscript into a fully professional organisation, which also took place in 2004/5.
The UoD in Brno is an essential element of the wider Czech military education system that also comprises the Military High School and Higher Technical School of the Ministry of Defence, the Defence Language Institute and the Training Command – Military Academy, the Agency for Planning and Development of Human Resources, and a military sports chair at the Charles University in Prague. According to Colonel Professor Engineer Martin Macko, Vice-Rector for Science and Research, “The UoD is one of the top 30 academic institutions in the Czech Republic.” The university’s primary mission is to propagate literacy, development of thinking and independent scientific research on those issues that are vital for the Czech Republic’s security or for meeting its Alliance obligations. It has a threefold remit: education; training military professionals as required by the Army of the Czech Republic; and scientific and research projects for the Ministry of Defence. “We are a public state university,” says Colonel Macko. “Therefore, we are also open to civilian students.” Thirty per cent of the 2,000 students currently enrolled at the UoD studying defence-related sciences are civilians.
The UoD has three faculties: the Faculty of Economics and Military Management, the Faculty of Military Technology and the Faculty of Military Health Sciences. The UoD also encompasses the Institute of Defence Against Mass Destruction Weapons, the Language Training Centre and the Physical Training and Sports Centre. “The UoD strictly follows the Bologna Process, the European framework for higher education,” the Vice-Rector adds. Students are embedded in a three-tier system in which they work towards internationally comparable degrees (Bachelor/Master/PhD), depending on their aspirations and abilities. Students also benefit from smooth recognition procedures and can choose from a wide and transparent range of high-quality courses.
The Faculty of Economics and Military Management offers courses to military personnel in leadership functions. Courses on the Military Management study paths prepare captains for the rank of major and higher qualified officers for duties of colonel and general. More specialised study modules prepare officers for the function of commander of mechanised or tank units, reconnaissance units, artillery and engineer unit commander, or for the management of information sources. The National Defence Economy study path covers logistics, military transport economics, logistics services, human resources management economics and financial resources management. Another field of study at the Faculty of Economics and Military Management is Security Management, more specifically civil protection, security services and cybernetics security.
Study programmes in the Faculty of Military Technology cover military and technical areas such as machinery, electro-technology, construction, geo-information, military meteorology and information technology, including related border and interdisciplinary branches.
The Faculty of Military Health Sciences is located in Hradec Králové in eastern Bohemia. The UoD directly manages the Bachelor degree programme for management or business careers in military medical facilities. The Bachelor’s degree programme for paramedics is carried out jointly with the University of Pardubice. The Master’s degree programmes in Military General Medicine, Military Dentistry and Military Pharmacy are taught in conjunction with the Charles University of Prague, which is responsible for the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in Hradec Králové.
The UoD was awarded the Erasmus University Charter for the academic years 2008/09 and 2013/14, a prerequisite for a higher education institution being able to organise student mobility and teaching. The final decision on the awarding of the Erasmus University Charter is taken by the European Commission.
The UoD also takes part in direct military exchange programmes within NATO and the Central European Forum on Military Education, a kind of “Military Erasmus”. It cooperates with military academic institutions and universities from all the Czech Republic’s neighbouring nations, as well as with other NATO members. The Faculty of Economics and Management has also in recent years worked intensively with EU and NATO working groups and the NATO Defence College.
Achievements and Projects
Four major research projects were recently completed. They referred to technologies for increasing the tactical and operational mobility of ground forces; passive opto-electronic automatic target tracking systems for fire control systems; the development, integration, administration and protection of communication and information systems (C4I2) in a NATO environment; and research and development of modern materials and technologies for applications in military technology. On-going research projects include the evaluation of new methods for data processing in C4I systems; modelling and experimentation for the evaluation of modern fire control systems; the modernising of current engineering means; the development of geographic provision of armed forces; improving crisis-handling capacities; the development of information provision for commander decision-making processes; the development of modern technologies for the Czech Air Forces; and intelligent systems and mobile robots.
As well as MoD-financed projects, the UoD has secured 32 national grants from outside the defence sector. It receives foreign grants from France, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the United States. Among these are cooperative research programmes on the exploration of enzymes that decompose nerve agents and the comprehensive treatment of mass casualty decontamination – research competencies that are traditionally well developed in the Czech Republic.
Modelling and Simulation at the University of Defence
Members of the UoD are active in 10 training and simulation boards or work groups, including the NATO Modelling and Simulation Group. The UoD uses simulation tools to support programme implementation. The use of the out-of-the-box training solution VBS2 from the company Bohemia Interactive is of particular importance to the UoD. VBS2 is utilised to support selected research areas at the Faculty of Economics and Military Management. It is used, for example, to verify proposed methods of tactical activities, both current and future, or to create operational conditions that are as real as possible in order to verify actual battle drills. It is also used to verify new weapon platform capabilities, for instance unmanned ground and combat vehicles. Further, VBS2 supports and enhances the educational process of Military Management BA and MA courses. To this end it is used for tactical engagement simulation exercises or involves students in working out exercises on their own, thus learning to work with VBS2.
VBS2 is also used at the UoD to support commanders of Czech contingents in preparing for out-of-the-area multi-national missions.
Well-known and Recognised
Even though representatives of the UoD proudly refer to prestigious predecessor institutions such as the Czech Institute of Technology or the Military Academy – the university stands for a new beginning rather than tradition. After the radical break with the previous social system a decade earlier, political and military leaders recognised that efficient education was the most important instrument for building a new society.
What has been achieved is quite impressive. In the less than ten years since its inception, the University of Defence in Brno, one of the youngest military universities in NATO, has become an academic establishment that easily stands up to any comparison – a university that is well known and respected in the Czech Republic and beyond national borders.
The Army Centre of Simulation and Training Technologies (CSTT)
Subordinated to the Training Command of the Military Academy in Vyškov, the CSTT is located in two garrisons: its headquarters and the 1st Simulation and Training Technologies Division in Brno; the 2nd Simulation and Training Technologies Division is in Vyškov.
The mission of the CSTT is to deliver full service in simulation and training technology-based military exercises and to provide education and research services to military professional personnel and to specialists from the civil sector.
The CSTT provides one-side exercises as well as those in which blue and red units fight against each other. Virtual and live simulators on the premises at Vyškov and live simulation exercises on military exercise grounds are practised in that way. The CSTT can also prepare and support distributed virtual-constructive exercises. Alternatively, commanders and their staff are trained at battalion level in a single exercise with two computer-generated companies in Brno and one additional company manning the virtual simulators in Vyškov.
For live simulation the CSTT has at its disposal a fairly antiquated MILES System and 10 sets of equipment based on Saab BT 46 laser-based simulator technology to instrument Pandur armoured vehicles. A quite unique live training device on the CSTT site in Vyškov is a training pool to exercise underwater emergency escape drills for tank crews.
For virtual simulation the CSTT has a great variety of type-specific devices to train operational procedures, fire training and tactical training, as well as reconfigurable desktop simulators for tactical training. All are of Czech provenance, either made by the VR-Group or Saab Czech (former E-Com). They are compatible with the DIS/HLA-based constructive simulators used at the CSTT and can be used in mixed simulation exercises (combinations of virtual and constructive). A CBT room is also available for training Artillery Forward Observers.
For constructive simulation the CSTT uses the United States’ OneSAF Testbed Baseline (OTB) system and its successor OneSAF.
In addition to simulation equipment, the CSTT has two autonomous local networks in Brno and Vyškov at its disposal, including radio liaison between the two sites, plus different voice and data communication systems and multipurpose hardware in both garrisons.
The CSTT currently carries out 20 constructive simulation exercises, 35 virtual simulation exercises and about 40 live simulation exercises each year. Despite declining funding, some say even because of it, demand for CSTT services is continuously increasing. “We must keep up the manifold capabilities of our centre,” says Lieutenant Colonel Ladislav Havelka, Commander CSTT. “Our benchmark must be to offer a complex and realistic training environment in all its aspects.” For the Commander this is the most efficient way in which military training can benefit from simulation and training technologies. – Walter F. Ullrich