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First Contingent Returns from Shindad

Szöveg: Capt. Zoltán Tószegi |  2012. január 28. 13:22

The HDF 86th Szolnok Helicopter Base has already welcomed colleagues returning home from abroad many times, but to welcome the troops of the first rotation of a mission back home is always a special occasion. Led by Lt.-Col. Gyula Pelczéder, the first contingent of the Hungarian Defence Forces Mi-17 Air Advisory Team (HDF AAT-1) – that had deployed to Afghanistan last August – set foot on Hungarian soil again in the evening of January 21, to the delight of their superiors, colleagues, family members and friends who were there to receive them.

Training the Afghan pilots in flying Mi-17 and Mi-171 transport helicopters in Shindad District presented the staff of the AAT-1 with a big challenge. The HDF Air Mentor Team (AMT) that has been training attack helicopter pilots in Kabul for over 18 months has already established the Hungarian trainers’ good reputation. This meant, however, that the three officers and five NCOs deploying with the AAT-1 had to meet fairly high standards from the beginning, and they managed to do so indeed. Beyond the tasks involved in the usual trailblazing role of first contingents, they had to overcome the obstacles posed by the absence of some of their Italian partners due to paid leave and the change in the US leadership.

The members of the second contingent that deployed last December have no similar difficulties to deal with, and the reports and updates they received regularly on the work of the first contingent helped a lot with their training in Hungary. The commander said that having coped with the initial difficulties the Hungarian instructors now have everything they need for efficient work and recreation. The biggest problem is that the Afghan pilots do not speak foreign languages, so the Hungarians have to work with interpreters all the time to communicate with them.

The second contingent went on their four-month tour of duty after receiving a thorough training, so the mentoring of the Afghan transport helicopter pilots can go on smoothly. After their successful mission, the members of the first contingent underwent some necessary post-deployment screenings, and together with the AMT-5 contingent that arrived home one week earlier, they attended a joint “Welcome Home" ceremony in Szolnok on Tuesday, January 24.


 Photo: WO Tibor Muhari