Mar 01, 2016

It Would be a Sin if the Military Could Not be Deployed to Handle the Migrant Crisis

According to the Chief of Defence of the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF), it would be a sin if the military could not be deployed when the police prove to be unable to handle the migrant crisis.

In an interview published on Friday, February 26 on the internet news portal Faktor, Gen. Dr. Tibor Benkő also mentioned that Hungarian soldiers recently prevented a cyber attack. The Chief of Defence disagrees with the introduction of compulsory military service, and also stated that the newly established HDF 2nd Special Forces Regiment is an “elite” unit.

In Tibor Benkő’s opinion, 2015 was not an easy year for the Hungarian Defence Forces. The soldiers’ activities had to be rescheduled when it turned out that they are needed to handle the migrant crisis. The physical barrier had to be constructed, and its protection by troops along the border had to be organized as well. He noted that in spite of all difficulties, the soldiers “had been working honorably and diligently” over the more than three months. 

The Chief of Defence said that the HDF are getting ready to build another temporary barrier on the Romanian border. If the need arises, they can start working on it at very short notice, almost immediately, along a nearly 450-kilometer border section, which is longer than the one last year.  

Gen. Tibor Benkő pointed out that recently there has been a significant increase in the number of people crossing the border illegally, so the number of soldiers serving along the border has also been increased. He said that “we are ready to stop a potential flood of migrants, but we hope that there will be no need for it”.

According to the general, the security of Hungarian citizens is the most important thing, which must be independent of party politics. Therefore, “it would be a sin” if the military would not be used if the need arises. The amendment to the French Constitution is aimed at making it possible to deploy troops”, he noted, adding that the core tasks of the Hungarian Defence Forces include the fight against terrorism. 

Gen. Tibor Benkő also stated that the HDF attach paramount importance to cyber defence, which can be used to prevent cyber attacks. The Chief of Defence added that last month there had been a cyber attack against Hungary, but he did not disclose further details.

According to Tibor Benkő, there is no need for compulsory conscript service “because the performance of such a serious and responsible task must not be made compulsory”.

The general said that it is peacetime in Hungary, and during this time, all soldiers must be ready to be available for the country at the shortest notice in an unexpected situation. He added that the Hungarian Defence Forces are able to perform their current tasks, but there is a need for additional soldiers to make sure that everything goes even more smoothly, and to reduce the personnel’s workload. For this reason, they are planning a recruitment drive this year, which is still not enough because the retention of personnel is equally important. 

He stated that “one must choose soldiering out of an inner urge”.

The Chief of Defence also talked about the formation of the 1200-strong HDF 2nd Special Forces Regiment. The soldiers applying to join the unit must first undergo a very rigorous assessment and selection process. The would-be members of the regiment all want to be among the best, but due to the very heavy physical and mental strain, only 10-15 per cent of the applicants are able to meet the requirements. 

The Special Forces Regiment can be deployed “on land, in water, under water and in air”, both in Hungary and abroad. The Hungarian Special Forces enjoy international recognition, and, for example, they have led the special forces of seven countries in Afghanistan for six months. General Benkő emphasized that “even Americans have served under their command, although it is widely known that they do not usually serve under other nations”.

Speaking about the tasks of the Hungarian Defence Forces in 2016, Tibor Benkő said that a military police centre would be set up in early March. The new organization will be established with nationwide scope of authority. Its members will primarily be assigned law enforcement tasks, in order to maintain security and discipline. He pointed out that their patrolling the streets will have a deterrent effect, which may even deter terrorists from carrying out an attack.        

The other important task of the year is to launch the volunteer military service. For this purpose, training units will be set up in ten garrisons, where young people will be given training after they volunteer for a shortened military service, but the training they will receive is not the same as that of contract soldiers. 

In the interview to Faktor, Gen. Tibor Benkő also said that in addition, 31 bilateral and multilateral military exercises will be held in 2016, of which six are NATO-led and 20 are domestic ones of special importance.