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Useful Notes / Slovaks with Sappers

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The modern military of the Slovak Republic, a.k.a. Slovakia, was founded in 1993, after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia. It started operating as a NATO force in 2004, when the country became a member of the alliance. Its official name is Ozbrojené sily Slovenskej republiky ("The Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic").

Until little over a decade ago, the armed forces were separated into three distinct, semi-autonomous branches : The Army (Armáda) itself, the Army of the Ministry of Interior (Vojsko Ministerstva vnútra) and the so-called Railway Army (Železničné vojsko). The latter two branches were integrated into the Army in 2002, creating the current version of the armed forces (including the change to its newer, currently used name).

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Since Slovakia is a former Warsaw Pact country, its vehicles and equipment are of mostly Czechoslovak and Soviet design. Most of this stuff is upgraded nowadays and many of the not-relevant-since-the-Cold War-ended vehicles have been gradually phased out since the 1990s. The army is also fully professional these days, with the compulsory military service for men having been abolished on the 1st of January 2006 (though there's still a law for conscription in emergency cases, i. e. the country getting under full-blown attack).

As the page title suggests, the country's big and most renowned specialty is sapper work of all kinds, including landmine disarming, bomb disposal and preventing biological and chemical warfare attacks (or cleaning up after them). Among the equipment used by the sapper units are several domestically designed and produced remote-controlled mine clearance vehicles.

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The backbone of the army are the Ground Forces (Pozemné sily), followed by the Air Force (Vzdušné sily) and then by various training and support branches. The air force these days is rather small, particularly when compared with the Czech and Polish one, and recently there's been much talk about its modernization (particularly the purchase of new transport planes and the upkeep of the country's MiG 29s). The disbanding of the domestic air flight academy a few years ago (in order to supposedly save on the defence budget expenses) remains controversial to this day.

Since Slovakia is as landlocked a country as it gets in central Europe and has few major navigable bodies of water, there is no navy to speak of (occasional river patrolling is reserved for coppers).

To get a good idea about the current structure of the armed forces, you can visit this nifty overview or this detailed article on That Other Wiki.

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