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Lt. Col. Katalin Langenbrinck First Led a Mission Contingent as a Hungarian servicewoman

Szöveg: Major Anna Tabiné Darabos |  2019. június 27. 9:19

Lt. Col. Katalin Langenbrinck, the senior officer of the Logistics Department of the HDF Augmentation, Preparation and Training Command took over the command post of the HDF National Support Element (NSE) in the Afghanistan theatre on 18th November. She was the first servicewoman to lead a mission contingent.

The 18th rotation of the National Support Element returned home in June. At the end of the six-month service, the Commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) donated a token of appreciation to Lt. Col. Langenbrinck. The former contingent commander retains kind memories of the past period, which was not easy, although she worked together with a very good team. With a smile she says that she cannot understand, what is the big deal if a woman fulfils a contingent commander’s post, for her this has never caused problems in any mission, and in an international environment a servicewoman leader is absolutely not unusual – according to her experiences.

When she applied for the post, she was motivated by the fact that her professional qualifications met the criteria, she had mission experiences, and she had almost twenty years of service in the field of logistics. In addition, she felt inclined and strong enough and also had a personal ambition to test herself and her abilities as a leader. During her two missions in Afghanistan she acquired lots of experience, which greatly facilitated her work as a commander, even in the preparation period. "The main task of the National Support Element is to provide full logistic supply and support for the soldiers serving in the theatre of operation. During my earlier missions I belonged to the recipients. But in my current mission together with my team, we were jointly responsible for the provision of supply for all the Hungarian soldiers there. It was my advantage in many respects that I had already experienced what problems, needs, difficulties may occur in this area" she says.

Lt. Col. Langenbrinck is an agile, strong personality. "In seeking to solve a problem, a leader has to listen to the opinion of her subordinates, because anybody can have good ideas, proposals. However, the decision is only the commander’s responsibility, even if not everyone agrees with her" – she points out. In her logistical work in Hungary and in the mission abroad, she considers it extremely important to be constructive and to have a positive attitude, because she thinks that the latter makes all the difference. As she says, her mission is to change the often-prevailing mentality of "Why do you need that?" in the provision of logistic supply, as the soldiers have to feel that they are really taken care of, they are supported. She had already explained this expectation as a leader to the personnel bound for mission during the pre-deployment training, and during the six months of service she consistently enforced this principle. Thanks to this also, that a good professional relationship was established with the leaders of other nations serving in the area of operation (AO), where she had a say, the her professional proposals were welcomed and adopted. "I did not feel at any moment of the mission period, that my person was not accepted either by my subordinates or by the other nations, or the command of the camp. We met many challenges, and part of these could be solved under the standardized procedures, regulators, the rest with the help of the existing possibilities, contacts" – she recalls.


Lt. Col. Langenbrinck clearly mentions the absence of her family, her loved ones as the most difficult moments of the mission. She thinks that mission abroad is always harder for those who stay at home, as they have to do without their loved ones in their everyday life. Otherwise, this is true for all soldiers, even if communication does not cause any problem today. After completing the mission abroad, family will come first for Lt. Col. Langenbrinck, if only because owing to the service they are frequently away from each other with her husband. The other important thing is that she would like to fit back into the "dull" everyday routine. She would like to learn, to further improve her German and French language knowledge, because in the mission she experienced that in addition to the English, acquiring skills in the German and French languages, too can be useful.

"In the armies of other nations, it is not a curiosity if a female commander directs. Be it a serviceman or a servicewoman, if he/she is a commander – and has the necessary knowledge and personality skills – then he/she is a commander" – Lieutenant colonel sums up.


Photos of HDF NSE