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Elite patrols preparing for Ohio

Text: Marcell Burillák | Photo: Zoltán Tischler |  15:27 February 22, 2024

“Nobody should think it will be easy. At the same time, you are well-trained and young, so any of you can reach the competition level with a little resolve” – this was how Chief Warrant Officer Attila Majzák – Command Sergeant Major, HDF 4th Territorial Defence Regiment – welcomed the participants of the domestic qualification event of the American Best Warrior Competition. The Hungarian delegation will travel to Ohio to outperform last year’s successful participation in late March.

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On a February morning, the volunteer reservists applying for the American Best Warrior Competition and their trainers are gathering in a room of Building 39 of the Kecskemét military base. This time, Hungary delegates four persons to participate, on the second occasion, in the competition organized by the Ohio National Guard.

“Last year, Hungary was represented by two …, and both were qualified to the top ten. We expect a relatively little better result this year, and dedicate five weeks to the preparation. We would like to give the best performance we can, since the invitation is an important recognition. Not all NATO member states can enter the competition in April”, says Chief Warrant Officer Attila Manzák with pride.

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Although we had been preparing individually for the previous competition, we achieved a good ranking overseas. This year, however, the applicants are to execute a carefully constructed training schedule, so we can trust in our successful participation again, this is how Sergeant Szilárd Fazekas outlines the chances of the Hungarian team. The section commander of the Training Company, 38th Territorial Defence Battalion, 4th Territorial Defence Regiment himself participated in the testing competition in 2023, and this year he is one of the leaders and professional supervisors of the preparation.

However, it’s a long way to the March competition: the trainers expect exceptional physical performance in water and on land alike, as well as mental stability. They measure the young men’s performance in a score system, so that they can objectively select the fittest ones from among them at the end. “There are no women or man here, only preparing soldiers”, this is how Attila Manzák says farewell to the participants of the preliminaries.

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On the opening day of the training, ten volunteers hope in Kecskemét to qualify into the four-strong delegation of two NCOs and two enlisted personnel, who will be accompanied by their mentors to the United States. They form a colorful bunch, as some of them are still students, while others have sacrificed their paid leave to be able to join the five-week training program.

“I’m studying to become a civil engineer in civilian life, and work besides my studies”. I also do athletics, which just meets the current requirements. I am pleased to see that the others, too, are sufficiently motivated, which stimulates us to perform better”, says Sergeant First Class Marcell Bense from the 38th Territorial Defence Battalion of the 4th Territorial Defence Regiment. “My role model is vitéz Antal Vattay, our World War II hero. He said that whatever is not to be fought for is worthless. I would like to live my life with this attitude, and tackle the current challenges” – adds he with a surprising calm, after he has completed the 3200-meter-long warm-up run in under 12 minutes.

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The reservists from the 1st rifle company of the 46th Territorial Defence Battalion arrive with similar enthusiasm, since exercising and workouts are an integral part of their everyday lives, too. “Due to the ever-higher level of everyday sports sessions, we feel that it would be worth for us to test ourselves in a live competition”, says Reservist Sergeant First Class Klaudia Bottyán.

The opening day starts with a physical fitness test, including running and other gymnastic exercises (e.g. push-ups, pull-ups). “First we assess the young people’s condition, and the hard work will start from tomorrow. Map reading and land navigation, swimming, shooting, as well as theory of fire and weapons technology preparations will follow. It is important that they familiarize themselves with the American weapons that they will be using during the Ohio competition”, tells us Sergeant Szilárd Fazekas at the end of the day.