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Defense Minister: “I want to build a combat-ready, serious army”

Hungary Today 2023.05.23.

“We have no more time left and no new chances to raise the defense capabilities of our country to the right level, we need to develop our military forces much faster and more efficiently,” the Minister of Defense said in an interview with news site Origo. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, who took his ministerial oath a year ago, said he wants to build a combat-ready, determined, and serious army.

The minister said that from 2016 onwards, a major construction of the force had begun, but the war has created a completely new situation. Referring to the prime minister’s state of the nation speech, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that we are keeping our powder dry, i.e., we will take advantage of the opportunity, and we will get stronger. The army has a unique opportunity to do so in this cycle because they have the political support, the financial strength, and the society’s commitment to security.

On next year’s budget, which is being prepared for the current war times, he said it must be one in which the security of the country is a top priority. He added that

in order for NATO’s security guarantees to come into effect, we must also do our part, and above all, we must have a strong national force, not rely solely on others.

The defense minister said that as a volunteer reserve captain, he had seen the internal state of the force from the bottom up, and as a minister, from the top down. From both perspectives, it is clear that a profound organizational-cultural change is needed: “I want to build a combat-ready, committed, serious army from a peacetime, uniformed-worker social institution that is a force to be reckoned with in the region.”

fotó: Facebook/Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky

He also pointed out that Hungary’s geographical location, and the pace and scale of its force development, make it an inescapable factor for everyone, both as a country on NATO’s eastern flank and as a neighboring country to the war in Ukraine.

The minister noted that

Hungary started the development of its own armed forces by choosing EU partners and focusing on the development of its own defense industry.

He referred to the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle factory in Zalaegerszeg in western Hungary, the small arms factory in Kishunfélegyháza producing Colt CZ products, and the Gyula plant producing Airbus helicopter components. He added that among other investments, there will also be the construction of a high-caliber ammunition and explosives plant in Várpalota.

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Szalay-Bobrovniczky also said that in order to have the right deterrent, we need to build it up in a planned way. This is a task that will occur in parallel in at least three important areas and over time.

We are producing and buying weapons and military equipment to completely rearm the legacy army that used obsolete Soviet weapons, thereby increasing its combat capability and creating a modern, NATO-compatible, digital army,”

he highlighted.

But even the most modern equipment is worthless without trained, capable, and dedicated Hungarian soldiers behind it, he pointed out. “Therefore, we are implementing a culture change in personnel, recruitment, and leadership that will strengthen the fighting spirit among the soldiers, and at the non-commissioned and commissioned officer levels, will reinforce self-motivated, responsible leadership,” the minister stated.

He added that thirdly, they are implementing organizational changes to achieve these goals. “A good example of such a change is the newly created Command of the Territorial Defense Forces, which creates a completely new component to support the professional forces,” he recalled.

At the end of the interview, Szalay-Bobrovniczky talked about the Ministry of Defense’s recently launched unprecedented recruitment campaign. He invited Hungarian youth to join the forces because the defense of our homeland is our common cause.

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Featured photo via Facebook/Magyar Honvédség (Szilágyi Róbert)

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