On Monday, 15 January Major General László Sticz PhD, the first Hungarian leader of EUFOR Operation Althea arrived in the area of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Speaking about the Hungarian commander’s year, he said that Hungary’s engagement is our pride, and at the same time, a proof that our country takes seriously the security of the Western Balkans.
The stability and peace of Bosnia-Herzegovina are of key importance for the Western Balkans and Hungary. For this reason, since the end of the Bosnian war, our country has been actively participating all along in managing the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. Following the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement that put an end to the armed conflict, between 1995 and 2004 the Hungarian Defence Forces were taking part in the activities of two NATO-led multinational peacekeeping missions, first in the Implementation Force (IFOR) and then in the Stabilization Force (SFOR). In view of all this, there was no question that Hungary would do its share in Operation Althea launched by the European Union on 2 December 2004.
The Hungarian Defence Forces have been contributing staff officers to EUFOR’s operation and maneuver forces to the Multinational Battalion (MNBN) since the beginning of the operation. For the first time this year, Hungary is the lead nation of the mission guaranteeing the peace of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Accordingly, in 2024, EUFOR is being led by a Hungarian commander in the person of Major General László Sticz PhD.
The Hungarian commander’s year is going to see more troops than before – a total of close to 400 of them – serving in the area of operations, as a 150-strong element is to be placed on high readiness in Hungary besides the approximately 250 troops deployed abroad. Moreover, it is not only their strength that increases but also the scope of their tasks, because this year, Hungary is going to provide the air search and rescue (SAR) and the aeromedical evacuation capabilities with a helicopter subunit.
Further new elements will be the EOD team augmented with a K9 patrol and the ROLE-1 level tasks related to the primary medical care of the international mission. Additionally, Hungary will also contribute logistic support and supply capabilities in order to achieve mission success. The personnel stationed at home will provide a maneuver company, a military police team, as well as an engineer detachment with sapper and EOD capabilities and a CBRN team with water purification capability. Major General László Sticz PhD said that this mission is going to be the outstanding task that has huge priority for the Hungarian Defence Forces in the year 2024. As he noted, the HDF and Hungary have done all they can to assume the lead nation role, since “this role – not only through obtaining and filling the commander’s position but also through the threefold increase in the number of slots assigned so far – indicates that Hungary takes seriously the peace and security of the Western Balkans, and thereby the guaranteeing of the security of our country.”
He added that assuming this lead nation role is, above all, a pride for Hungary since it was not easy to obtain the position itself, nor was it easy to assemble and train military capabilities and take them to the theatre of operations. “The Hungarian Defence Forces can be rightly proud of having assembled such a capability package, and we will assume the lead nation role in 2024 along its lines” – emphasized Major General László Sticz PhD in the last moments before the command group began to travel abroad.