Belgian soldiers on the visit in South Bohemia
It is not difficult to become a soldier in the French-speaking part of Wallonie in Belgium. The young men born in the country need a short training in order to enter the army, these trainings are given them in a military area in Wallonie and in the military spaces abroad. Wallonian army is a group of 400 military men, divided into 3 units of approximately 100 people. Each of these groups is led by one captain and there are 3 other small groups which fall under the 3 main units. Soldiers know each other very well thanks to their longtime cooperation and travels in the different countries as Afghanistan where they help to resolve the war conflicts. The trainings in the military spaces in the countries abroad fix their friendship and enable the beginners to improve their skills thanks to their older colleagues and get know the military culture. In practice, everyone who is interested in entering the army, can accomplish it whenever he wants.
There is a military area in Boletice, situated in South Bohemia 5 kilometres away from Český Krumlov, which is designated for a special trainings of soldiers. The military space of Boletice, thanks to its advantageous position and a beautiful nature, is serving for accomodation of different groups of soldiers. In the surroundings, the soldiers can practise using the weapons on the special places which are dedicated to the construction of targets. We were translating the orders during the night exercises too. That was a different experience because the shots are red in the night and that was difficult with the lights on the terrain but finally it was good show.
My employment of a translator for the Belgium soldiers via Alliance française in Ceske Budejovice was to help the soldiers with the communication between the Czech civils while constructing the targets and to accompany them to the military airports where they were picking up and dropping the other members of the belgian army. During my work we were living with two other French- speaking girls at the same place with the Belgian soldiers, which was an advantage because we have been receiving the orders from the army directly inside the house. The soldiers led us to the places where there were training and we were working as a mean of communication between the Czech civils and themselves.
As mentioned above, every group has its captain who is controlling the shooting. That means that everytime when we were sent to a special place with a group of soldiers, we have been in one tower with their leader and translating the orders. It was interesting to see the system of work of the soldiers and especially the training which was really showing the atmosphere of war. We could see that the soldiers are well-organised and the atmosphere which they created was really friendly, especially for the new ones. In the end the soldiers gave us the certificates as a symbol of thanks for a good cooperation and kept our names in the database for the future.
I am really grateful to Alliance française in Ceske Budejovice that I could have a possibility to be on one place with the Belgian soldiers and to try the military atmosphere. It is something completely different from the Czech army because the Belgians are really friendly and hardworking. At the same time they treat the civils in really a nice way, they respect the Czech culture and they have a special relation to South Bohemia because they already were there 10 years ago so they know the area very well.
KATEŘINA VOJTĚCHOVÁ, Czech Republic, July 2011