The Hungarian Defence Forces were lent 12 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored fighting vehicles for training purposes by the US Forces European Command. The vehicles were taken over by the Minister of Defence of Hungary from the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the US Embassy in Budapest on Tuesday, 26th November.
At the ceremony, combined with a capability-demonstration at the Bakony Combat Training Centre in Hajmáskér Mr Hende said: due to the significant deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan in 2010 the most modern assets capable to provide service members with the highest level of survivability had been requested from the USA government. In the areas of operations Hungarian military personnel have been using similar vehicles for years and such assets have greatly contributed to the minimization of losses, he added.
The Minister of Defence highlighted that the use of vehicles required high-level skills which made it necessary to have another 12 AFVs allowing Hungarian personnel to receive training in this field in Hungary.
Answering questions Mr Hende said currently some 200 Hungarian troops were serving in Afghanistan. Their strength has significantly decreased since the involvement of Hungary in the Provincial Reconstruction Team and in the guarding of the Kabul Airport is over. He said that in late 2014 the present type of Afghanistan mission would be over and in early 2015 a new mission would be launched focusing on mentoring and training with the involvement of a roughly 100-strong Hungarian contingent.
In his speech Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the US Embassy in Budapest Mr M. André Goodfriend emphasized that the relations of Europe and the USA serve the protection of common values. Currently NATO defends peace in three continents with the support of over 50 partner nations and guarantees the security and safety of millions of people from Libya to Afghanistan, he added.
Mr Goodfriend also mentioned that Hungary is an important partner in the system of the Alliance. As an example he referred to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) and the Air Mentor Team. He highlighted that the preliminary preparation of soldiers significantly increases their survivability. As Mr Goodfriend noted there would be some challenges after Afghanistan too and the Hungarian personnel would be able to meet them thanks to their skills gained from exercising on the MRAPs.
According to the handouts the transportation of the 12 fighting vehicles to Hungary and their repair costs are covered by the American party while the operation are the responsibility of the HDF. The vehicles will be used both at the Bakony Combat Training Centre and the Szentendre NCO Academy.
The weight of the MaxxPro Plus MRAPs, manufactured by Navistar International, is 17 metric tons. Thanks to the special armour plates at the bottom of the hull these vehicles are able to survive a blast of as much as seven kilograms of high explosive material.
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