Hungarian Troops Bid Saint Ladislaus Camp Farewell For GoodSzöveg: Béla Szabó | 2008. július 27. 10:13
Until my headquarters are guarded by Hungarian soldiers, I can fall into a sound sleep — Lieutenant General (Eng.) László Tömböl, Commander of the HDF Joint Forces Command cited the words of the first KFOR commander in Pristina on 16 July, referring to the internationally recognized performance of the soldiers.
Even more words of recognition were said at the 18th — and at the same time, the last — change of command celebration of the Hungarian Defence Forces Guard and Security Battalion. At the ceremony, attended by Dr. Péter Szeredi, Head of Cabinet of the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant General Xavier de Marnhac, Commander of KFOR, and senior generals and officers of the Hungarian Defence Forces, several participants have recalled the experiences gained in the course of the longest mission of the armed forces.
Among Hungarian and NATO officers present at the site, there are a lot who had served under the Pristina command of KFOR several times. The first Hungarian contingent, which arrived at the operational area in 1999, was followed by 17 contingents in 6-month rotations and a total of some 6.000 Hungarian troops had served in the capital of Kosovo.
The present commander of KFOR has worked with our soldiers for the second time, since as a deputy commander he has had a chance to familiarize with their activity before. Perhaps this is why he told at the celebration that “Whenever I speak of you, allow me to speak of you as ‘my Hungarian soldiers’".
In addition to providing direct protection for the KFOR headquarters, the Guard and Security Battalion had guarding and protection, patrolling, consignment escort, and event security tasks as well, and operated checkpoints and transfer points. Until 1 July 2008, KFOR’s preventive health laboratory was a part of this organization, and there were Hungarian officers serving at the NATO headquarters of the theatre of operations. It is also a part of the history of the contingent that in addition to providing for their basic functions, they had operated an airfield security unit temporarily, and guarded KFOR’s Echleon Site, the transmitter station on Goles mountain, and camp Vrelo.
Thus there were a lot of things to recall at the ceremony, but there also was a sad aspect to remembrance. In front of soldiers lined up for the ceremony, alongside the Hungarian and the NATO flag there was also a black flag flapping in the wind: with this flag and a minute of silence the Hungarian troops and the soldiers of other nations paid a tribute to posthumous Major Krisztián Nemes, who lost his life in Afghanistan while performing his duty. At the press conference following the official ceremony it was uttered — among others — that with the termination of the Guard and Security Battalion, the presence of Hungarians will not come to an end in Kosovo, on the contrary, they will have a more responsible task in the future.
As of September, the Hungarian Defence Forces will take over the command of the Pec-based Hungarian-Slovene-Italian manoeuvre battalion of the Western theatre, and will provide the majority of the troops.
Lt.Gen. Tömböl also mentioned that Saint Ladislaus camp, which has been the home of Hungarian soldiers for 9 years, will be handed over to KFOR command, a part of the equipment will be transported back to Hungary, and the rest will be transferred to the manoeuvre battalion. On 17 July, a part of the Guard and Security Battalion will commence repatriation, and the units staying abroad, together with those coming with the new rotation, will start the move to Pec.
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