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Without logisticians, there would be no NATO Days // Humans of NATO Days

21.04.2024, 08:17

First Lieutenant Ondřej Brázda serves at the 143rd Supply Battalion in Lipník nad Bečvou. Although his unit does not perform a display at the NATO Days, the result of their work can still be seen all around - it is thanks to the army logisticians that the area of the event will grow into the form in which visitors can see it. But how long does it take and how many people are needed for it? If you want to know more about the behind-the-scenes preparations for the biggest security show in Europe, don't miss this interview.

How do you evaluate the current edition of NATO Days?
Definitely positively for me, my tasks, what I was in charge of, were fulfilled. Yesterday was very hectic, I think there were over 100 thousand visitors here. We had to refill all the drinking water several times during the day and it was very demanding. Today is a little quieter according to the number of visitors.

What is the difference between your normal work day and the work day here at the event?
Usually we start at 6:30 a.m., I distribute the work and then I plan the training, then I check the training. But it's mainly about paperwork. I finish at 3:30 p.m. and go with a clear mind.
Here I am in the field, I am in charge of about 120 people, I have to divide it exactly between the individual branches – cooks, suppliers, fuel, water. And it goes basically non-stop. Tasks are pouring in during the night, for example at half past ten. We have to provide, whether it's buying and bringing in more water, supplying the cooks when they run out of food, whatever is needed.

We are standing by the Air Force tent. How big is it and how long does it take to build?
This tent is roughly 8 by 6 meters. First, the floors must be laid, there are about 80 of them. Then the packed tent must be unfolded and inflated, which is what these two compressors are used for. The total construction of this hall takes about an hour and 10 soldiers are needed for it.
Then here we have smaller tents, which are 6x4 meters. The process is the same for inflatable ones - lay the floor so that the bottom does not puncture, inflate. We have about 40 of these inflatable tents spread out here. Each smaller tent requires 6 people and takes about 30 minutes to set up. So if you multiply that by 40 tents, we sweated a lot the first three days.
We also have non-inflatable tents, they are more in the back of the area and serve for the police and the prison police, there are about 10 of them here. They are even more difficult because they don't inflate. It consists of a steel structure on which the sail is placed. As a result, it takes longer, about 40 minutes per tent.

NATO Days are being prepared continuously in some ways. Some processes run all year, but when do you start the intensive preparations?
Already a month before the start of NATO Days, all the containers were brought to our unit and to Hranice, and then we transported them here. This requires a lot of vehicles, so we had two other units helping us. Imagine 20 cars that continuously loaded material for two days. It was therefore very important to plan what had to come first. The most important thing was to build cooking facilities, which are transportable container kitchens. They are followed by a lot of water containers that connect to the cooking facilities, and the whole system can function as a complete kitchen.
Plus a bunch of other stuff like those tents or fences. They are now spread out everywhere, there are about two kilometers of fences. But the first three days were the most intense, it was very demanding.

The event lasts two days for the public, but it's a lot of work to set it up. How long have you been at the airport?
From the Monday before the event. So we built here already a week before the start. The last two days, i.e. Thursday, Friday, those who are in charge of static and dynamic displays started arriving here. We had to accommodate the soldiers who are in charge of the displays, provide them with food, and that is probably the most demanding thing for us.

The NATO Days are actually the biggest logistical exercise for the Army of the Czech Republic, is that correct?
You can call it that, yes. In addition, now the two biggest exercises that the army has are right behind each other - NATO Days and then Czech Lion in Doupov. The material that is here, at least part of it, must be transported to the other side of the Czech Republic immediately after the event, so it is very demanding.
Almost the entire army, almost all units, participated in the construction of the area for NATO Days, cooks from Hranice, Liberec, Rakovník, and from Čáslav cook here, soldiers from Rakovník, from my unit - Lipník, and from Pardubice also built the tents. All combat units participate in the displays, so the entire army is involved here. And that's just for Land Forces. In addition, of course, there is the Air Force, which is in charge of everything for the armed forces here.

And then how long will it take to take everything away?
We hope for two days. We start tonight (Sunday) as soon as the people and stall holders leave. On Monday and Tuesday we will set up the tents and transport them. But we are only talking about packaging here on site, then we will distribute the material back to the units, ensure repairs of the material, identify defects and prepare for the next exercise.

What are you transporting the material on? Tatras or special cars?
They are actually multilifts for containers. All the material is loaded into containers, the vehicle pulls it on itself and transports it. Some of the newer multilifts already come with trailers, they are two positions that they can transport. With those containers, it's actually the same as in civilian, so civilian vehicles could also be used, but we can work it out ourselves. Otherwise, it can also be done on a flatbed, which is also commonly used to transport people, but there are a minimum of them, because the tarpaulin has to be removed and it is difficult to load it there. Container transport, which is now in use, helps us a lot.

Read more interviews with other people participating at the NATO Days

The weather is beautiful now, but it's not always like that. How is the cleaning of the tents after the event?
We will wash them, but we have to solve all defects with the manufacturer, because there are tubes inside that are inflated. If they burst, we have no way to glue them at the units. Of course there are repair kits, they are part of the tent, but the manufacturers have much better resources for this, so we leave it to civilian companies to repair it.

And what is the most difficult to build? Is it a tent or is it something else?
For manpower, it's tents, but for those stoves, for those dining rooms, you need a crane, because there's a waste pit below, and that has to be stood on, it has to be balanced so that it's exactly leveled, and put it all together.

So if there were no logisticians, there would be no NATO Days either.
Yeah, but most people don't see it that way. It's also Czech Air Force Days, they mainly want to see aircraft.

Don't worry, we'll tell them. Thanks for the interview.
Okay, yeah. Thank you too.

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