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Sense of duty – reliability – commitment

Part one

Text: Captain Erika Varga Szabóné | Photo: First Lieutenant Barna Koncsek |  15:25 November 30, 2021

Major General Ferenc Kajári and the Hungarian staff supporting his command group have started their work in the spirit of the 26th rotation of KFOR, NATO’s Kosovo Force. First, we introduce the daily activity of Chief Warrant Officer Ferenc Tamás Zsiros, KFOR Command Sergeant Major, including the areas of responsibility where he has to meet international expectations as command senior enlisted leader.

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The command of NATO’s Kosovo Force, KFOR is a unique opportunity in the history of the Hungarian Defence Forces, which not only presents a challenge to the commander, but also requires the personnel in staff positions to meet high-level requirements. In our series, we give an insight into the everyday duties of those serving in the staff and leading positions, into their performance in an international environment.

The Hungarian NCO Corps has come a long way over the last ten years. It successfully cooperated in the transformation of NCO training through the establishment of the “Acélkocka” (Steel Cube) NCO training system. By organizing the International Week of the Hungarian Command Senior Enlisted Leader Course, it earned appreciation from neighboring countries and NATO. As a representative of the first Central Eastern European country, Chief Warrant Officer Tibor Bogdán filled the Command Sergeant Major position at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT).

Another milestone on this road was achieved when NATO assigned the command of its largest mission, the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to Hungary, to the Hungarian Defence Forces. Major General Ferenc Kajári assumed his duties as commander in a ceremony held in Pristina on 15 October. This role deserves to be called of historic significance in the life of the Hungarian Defence Forces. At the same time, this assignment has outstanding importance for the Hungarian NCO Corps, since in addition to the commander’s post, another Hungarian soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Ferenc Tamás Zsiros has been assigned the KFOR Command Sergeant Major position.

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The significance of the command sergeant major position is enhanced by the fact that for more than twenty years now, since the establishment of KFOR in 1999, only American, Italian, German, French and Spanish command senior enlisted leaders have served in it.

Of course, the new position does not only involve prerogatives but also huge responsibility and challenges. Besides displaying steadfastness in everyday life, meeting national and international requirements and setting an example, its holder has to earn recognition and esteem from NATO and the KFOR troop contributing nations. The troops of 28 nations – 20 NATO member countries and eight NATO operational partners – execute their tasks in the peacekeeping operation. These 28 countries handle their NCOs based on their own ideas and in accordance with their national historical past and background.

The command sergeant major has the difficult task of establishing an NCO support channel that is acceptable to all nations. Besides, he has to forge the NCOs of the nations with different military background and experience into a team with unity, for he, by himself, could not fully carry out such a complex system of tasks. As those in the English-speaking system put it, there is “No I in the team”.

Of course, guidance is important not only for NCOs, for a relationship of trust and good cooperation are indispensable between the commander and the command sergeant major in the interest of implementing the “Command Group Concept”. To achieve this, the COMKFOR provides his maximum support and cooperation. Thanks to their excellent cooperation, the command sergeant major of the HDF KFOR Contingent deployed in the area of operations and of the KFOR Tactical Reserve Battalion (KTRBN) also provides significant support with forging the NCOs and setting an example.

In his position, the tasks of the KFOR Command Sergeant Major include the planning of duties for the day and the enforcement of military discipline and regulations. To ensure team thinking, it is indispensable to maintain regular contact with command senior enlisted leaders of other nations, not only by phone but also by paying personal visits to the subunits and the national contingents. One of his noblest tasks is to present the prestigious “Soldier of the Month” Award in recognition of dedicated and persistent work, based on the nations’ recommendations and assessments.

As KFOR Command Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Ferenc Tamás Zsiros is facing one of the greatest challenges in his life. Besides displaying committed steadfastness in executing the complex tasks of the one-year foreign mission, he has to be reliable, demanding and exemplary, and, as an efficient leader, a creator of value for the NCOs of different nations.

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