The Bertalan Árpád 1st Special Operations Brigade of the Hungarian Defense Forces was formed on 1 January 2023, with its history dating back to 1993, when a dual-purpose (airborne and paratrooper) company was first established at the base of the 34th Bercsényi László Reconnaissance Battalion, and then the 88th Air Mobility Battalion was formed. The unit is modeled on the US Army Special Forces.
The history of the two corps split after 1993, with the 88th Battalion being essentially a light rifle battalion, while the 34th Battalion continued to operate on a reconnaissance professional line, writes Honvédelem.hu. Despite the split, a number of parallels remained, such as the special organizational structure, the integration of parachute and diving capabilities, the use of non-traditional weaponry and procedural methods.
The development of the special operations capability has been continuously supported by the United States since 2005.
Over the years, the two battalions have carried out a number of missions that have underlined their parallelism, such as serving in a joint unit in Afghanistan. As a consequence of all these historical parallels, the 2nd Bertalan Árpád Special Purpose Regiment was established on 1 January 2016.
The security challenges posed by the terrorist threat across Europe in the 2010s, as well as the increased migratory pressure and the hybrid threat of modern warfare, required the further rational use of available resources and the establishment of a highly capable military organization with modern weapons, operating under unified command and capable of performing tasks that could not be accomplished or could only be accomplished to a limited extent by conventional military organizations. Therefore, on 1 September 2017, the special organization went from regiment to brigade.
The justification for the formation of the brigade was proven by the most outstanding event in the history of the brigade: Operation Sámán, carried out on 19 August 2021, less than 48 hours after the assumption of the mission.
During the operation, a total of 547 Hungarian, American, Austrian and Afghan citizens were successfully evacuated from Afghanistan with the participation of about 100 soldiers.
In recognition of the outstanding results achieved, Minister of Defense Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky presented the brigade with a flag ribbon in October 2022. The 2nd Bertalan Árpád Special Purpose Brigade was operational until 31 December 2022, and from 1 January 2023 it carries out its duties under the name of the Hungarian Defense Forces’ Bertalan Árpád 1st Special Operations Brigade.
The brigade’s main tasks include the execution of special operations under national or NATO command: special reconnaissance, direct operations, military assistance. In addition, its duty includes peacekeeping tasks, special tasks that cannot be carried out by conventional forces or are difficult to carry out, and participation in combat search and rescue missions, among others.
The Special Operations Brigade is composed of combat, combat support, and combat service support sub-units. Its specialized organization enables it to effectively conduct the full spectrum of special operations and assault missions using a combination of land, air and waterborne means of delivery. The execution of tasks is characterized by a high degree of autonomy and precision.
Featured photos via Honvédelem.hu/B.L. tizedes