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Hungarian Troops Will Use UAVs In Afghanistan

Szöveg: |  2009. március 5. 10:15

In the second half of next year, the Provincial Reconstruction Team of the Hungarian Defence Forces will be using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well; the training and preparation of the personnel will begin in January in Israel – said Defence Minister Imre Szekeres, currently on visit in Afghanistan.

In the second half of next year, the Provincial Reconstruction Team of the Hungarian Defence Forces will be using UAVs as well in Afghanistan; the training and preparation of the personnel will begin in January in Israel – as the defence minister told the Hungarian Press Office (MTI) on Thursday in Afghanistan.

Imre Szekeres said he signed the UAV procurement contract one and a half months ago. In total, three sets will be purchased, with remote control equipments which can even be mounted on all-terrain vehicles. These devices will significantly improve the reconnaissance capabilities of Hungarian troops and at the same time strengthen their security as well. The minister added that the rules of the public procurement procedure often create an impossible situation, this is why the long-planned UAV purchase was delayed. Imre Szekeres underlined that currently there are 325 Hungarian troops in Afghanistan; Kosovo is the only place where there is a larger contingent. He emphasized that the aim of the 51 000 foreign troops stationing in Afghanistan is to transfer military and law enforcement duties to the Afghanistani army and police as soon as possible. Those who know the locals say that Afghans have the time, but ’we have the watch, which should not be checked every minute’ – the minister added.

Imre Szekeres also noted that he has been to Afghanistan for the fifth time and development is apparent. Between Mazari Sharif and Puli Khumri a public road of European standard had been built, and two years ago the construction of a high-voltage electric network has started. Based on the report received from the commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, the minister said that the stability of the province is still strong; Afghans support the Hungarian soldiers. As an Afghan officer has put it, the people are fed up with the war, they do not want to send their children out to the streets knowing that they could be exploded in an attempt. The minister said that until Hungarian EOD experts do not earn the proper qualifications, they cannot work outside the camp. The places of the two EOD experts who died recently have to be filled, but in order to do so, the new EOD technicians have to pass the first level EOD examination in the first place. He also underlined that as it had been requested by the troops, the ATVs equipped with radio-jamming devices will have armour protection soon. To provide a higher comfort level for the Hungarian soldiers, the internet network of the base has been extended.

There is a wireless network in the canteen for the notebooks to facilitate contact with the soldiers’ families. Since they have complained on more than occasion about the bread made by the locals, the delegation has brought some flour for the troops so that they can bake their own bread for Christmas. In the camp called Camp Pannonia, the troops giving an interview to the correspondent of MTI said that they are fine there, the company is good, and they like their tasks as well. Staff Sergeant Zoltán Nemes from Gyõr for instance works in the civilian-military liaisoning team, he is responsible for keeping contact with local radio stations, newspapers, television channels. In his opinion the majority of Afghans like soldiers, but there are some who are indifferent. PRT Commander Colonel Zsolt Sándor said that the province can be called safe, but this is the state of ’neither peace nor war’. Various reconstruction projects are implemented after consultations with the locals, and they listen to the opinion of each local leader. The troops also showed the Hummer ATVs – received from the Americans – to the journalists. These six-ton armoured all-terrain vehicles are considerably safer than the Mercedeses driven before. The soldiers said they are much more confident when driving these and they do not feel endangered that much when they have to go on patrol.

MP Zsolt Csampa of the Fidesz party, who has also accompanied the delegation, emphasized that Hungarian troops do an extraordinarily high quality job, and NATO, as well as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by the alliance are both satisfied with the Hungarians. Zsolt Csampa agreed with the fact that the fast procurement of various equipments is sometimes hindered by the public procurement act. The delegation lit candles to commemorate the two EOD experts, Gyula Kovács and Krisztián Nemes, who had lost their lives while on duty. The troops said they burn candles in the camp every night to commemorate the two men who were killed in action.