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EUFOR Commander’s year: Multinational Battalion under Hungarian command

Text: Major Enikő Földházi | Photo: First Lieutenant Barna Koncsek, Szebáld Szakál |  15:05 February 26, 2024

This January, besides Major General László Sticz PhD, a Hungarian soldier taking over command of the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, another epochal change occurred in the Multinational Battalion (MNBN), the maneuver force of the mission as well. The new commander of the subunit is Hungarian Lieutenant Colonel László Nagy.

20240119 MNBN TOA@CB2-24

Hungary has a particular interest in guaranteeing that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a secure and stable country, and in the interest of this, it has been engaged in international peacekeeping and peace support operations conducted there since the end of the Bosnian War. The Hungarian Defence Forces have been participating in the European Union’s military mission – European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina Operation Althea – EUFOR – since its launch 20 years ago, and in 2024, a Hungarian general is at the helm of EUFOR for the first time. In the Hungarian COMEUFOR’s year, close to 400 troops – more than earlier – of the Hungarian Defence Forces are serving in the Western Balkans country with an extended scope of tasks.

As part of the changes, after the Austrian patch symbolizing Austrian leadership of the last 15 years, the MNBN Commander’s arm insignia now displays a shield in the Hungarian tricolor to show that EUFOR’s military maneuver unit has a new lead nation.

20240128 COC Rehersal-18

MNBN Commander Lieutenant Colonel László Nagy first served with EUFOR 13 years ago, and in the period since then, he spent altogether three years in different MNBN positions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He knows and likes this intricate and beautiful country, and, as he said in his speech delivered at the handover-takeover ceremony of the commander’s position, his heart beats for the MNBN. Both his high-level dedication and significant professional experience have great importance in executing the tasks, since the +800-strong battalion that Lieutenant Colonel Nagy directs in the area of operations consists of North Macedonian, Dutch, Italian, Austrian, Romanian, Turkish and Hungarian troops. If necessary, or during the annual exercises, it is reinforced with reserve forces contributed by several nations – among them, a maneuver company that is placed on stand-by in Hungary in 2024, a military police (MP) detachment, an engineer team with sapper and EOD capabilities as well as a CBRN team with water purification capability.

Besides the MNBN commander’s position, the command sergeant major (CSM) of the battalion and its Chief J1 (personnel) are also Hungarians, and there are Hungarian soldiers serving in all cells of the battalion staff as well. Furthermore, in connection with the Hungarian COMEUFOR’s year, the Romanian support company of the battalion also comprises a Hungarian platoon responsible for transportation and catering. Of the four maneuver companies of EUFOR, one is traditionally Hungarian, so currently the 27th rotation drawn from the personnel of the Szentes-based HDF 14th Engineer Regiment is serving in Sarajevo.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Nagy, the main tasks of the MNBN – due to the EUFOR’s mandate – consists of peacekeeping operations, that is, force protection (FP), readiness sustainment and joint training with the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH). Moreover, the maneuver companies also perform patrol tasks in the entire area of the country.


Force protection is already noticeable upon arriving at the main gate of Camp Butmir, where armed soldiers check the vehicles, personal documents and entry permits. While it is primarily the staff support company – mostly consisting of Romanian soldiers – that is tasked with the guard and security of Camp Butmir, the maneuver forces organize for themselves the guard and security of a given base during their dayslong field deployments. These dayslong field deployments take place when the maneuver companies carry out patrolling tasks in significant distances from Sarajevo. The primary objective of patrolling is to continuously monitor the security situation, and besides that, each patrol task is at once a driving practice as well.

The everyday life of the MNBN is primarily taken up with training, since as the EUFOR’s main maneuver element, they need to be ready to deploy at all times. Practically speaking, the individual and force-level training activities conducted in the mission area are the continuation of the pre-deployment training in Hungary – tells us Chief Warrant Officer Lajos Csizmadia. According to the MNBN CSM, although there are some differences in domestic pre-deployment training programs of the maneuver companies, after arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina, every maneuver company is to conduct the exercise for achieving Full Operational Capability (FOC), where they demonstrate their level of training by executing tasks related to EUFOR’s mandate (among others, for example patrolling, crowd riot control (CRC), manning of checkpoints, VIP escort, cooperation with MEDEVAC).


By Chief Warrant Officer Csizmadia’s account, the domestic pre-deployment training of the Hungarian maneuver company is thorough and efficient. The members of the Hungarian contingent arrive in the area of operations as a well-trained, cohesive team having the necessary knowledge. During the in-mission training sessions, they lay the greatest emphasis on CRC task in order to achieve smooth cooperation, but the evacuation of Liaison and Observation Teams (LOT) Houses and fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA) also have a significant role in their training.

Besides, the Multinational Battalion also conducts joint training activities with the subunits of the local AFBiH, in the framework of which their cooperation ranges from the joint organization of the tasks to the drill practices executed with MNBN instructors to Exercise Combined Response, which involves the integration of an MNBN company into an AFBiH battalion. Beyond that, EUFOR annually holds Exercise Quick Response, where besides all EUFOR nations, the whole personnel deployed in the area of operations also participate together with designated AFBiH subunits and the elements of the EUFOR Intermediate Reserve Force. These training activities not only ensure EUFOR’s readiness in the event that local authorities can no longer cope with a deteriorating security situation, but also have a deterrent effect on those who are interested in threatening the safe and secure environment (SASE). Since EUFOR’s establishment, there has been no need for such an intervention, which indicates the constant improvement of the security situation and at once the joint success of the BiH leadership and the international presence.


Speaking about the tasks of the battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Nagy also emphasizes the developments of the recent period affecting the MNBN. In parallel with taking over the commander’s tasks, the leaders of the battalion and the companies recently moved to new or refurbished work areas, which posed logistic as well as communications and information systems (CIS) challenges to the personnel besides carrying out their daily duties. This transitional situation, however, did not interfere with the seamless task execution of the MNBN, so, as always, the battalion was performing its tasks at a high level even during this period.

The international personnel of the MNBN characteristically serve in six-month rotations, and the Hungarian company is no exception to this rule. The 28th rotation – the so far largest Hungarian contingent of EUFOR Operation Althea which marks its 20th anniversary this year – is soon to arrive in Camp Butmir. The farewell ceremony of this contingent took place early February in Alba Regia barracks, Székesfehérvár, and its members are going to start their tour of duty in Sarajevo in order to further strengthen EUFOR and the Hungarian soldiers’ international recognition.