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Hungary Military Personnel

Hungary aims to have 30,000 soldiers on active duty by 2026, István Simicskó, minister of Defense, said 12 January 2018. The minister said that the plan to boost Hungary's armed forces also includes a reserve force of 20,000 by 2026 and setting up voluntary regional defense units. The number of reserve soldiers currently stands at around 6,000, a major improvement on the handful of reserves in 2010, he said.

The Hungarian government aims to make their military one of the “most decisive” armies in the region, István Simicskó, minister of Defense, said 15 February 2017. Minister Simicskó said that the military contributed some 15,000 soldiers to Hungary’s border control efforts. In 2016, the Hungarian armed forces participated in some 40 international exercises, while some 1,000 troops had served in international missions. Concerning Hungary’s voluntary reserve force of 5,300, Simicskó said that the corps would be developed into a national network with units in each district of the country. Simicskó said that the government greatly appreciated the work of soldiers and added that their salaries have been raised by 40 percent since 2015.

The defence forces development plans of the Zrínyi 2026 Program announced in December 2016 feature the reorganisation of the system of voluntary reservists and the implementation of recruitment campaigns in this context, as well as the launch of the Defence Sports Association and the enhancement of defense education as a priority goal, as part of which they are planning to develop a kind of cadet system.

He further reiterated that salaries in the military will increase once again as of January, by 5 per cent on average. Additionally, the defence budget, too, will increase, he added, remarking: he would like the defence budget to GDP to reach 2 per cent already before the end of the ten-year program.

He also mentioned that, in consequence of the Buda Cash scandal, the money of some 20 thousand defence workers invested in the Defence Health Care Fund has been lost. While the Ministry of Defence has no legal responsibility in this matter, the Ministry will help those who have been financially wronged. Parliament has already approved the legal foundations for a measure to address this issue, and experts are currently working out the details of prospective payments.

The Hungarian government plans on expanding its military reserves to 20,000 by 2026, it was revealed 02 October 2017. István Simicskó, minister of Defense, said the size and capabilities of Hungary’s military have diminished since the 1989-1990 political change. However, it will improve with the implementation of the Zrínyi 2026 scheme. The minister said that the defense side of the project aims to restructure the reservist system and the Hungarian military would hire some 1,000 new reservists between now and the 2018 general election. The minister said that Hungary had just 17 reservists in 2010, which he blamed on the 2004 law abolishing mandatory military service. Right now Hungary’s defense force has over 5,000 reservists, but this force lacks “real capabilities", Minister Simicskó said.

Chief Security Advisor to the Prime Minister György Bakondi told public television channel M1 on 11 January 2016 that the Government of Hungary does not see the necessity for reintroduction of military conscription. Keeping the manpower of the reserve force at appropriate levels is important however, he stressed. The Chief Security Advisor added that five-party talks on regulating deployment of the defence forces will start on Tuesday. The aim of the discussions will be to introduce a new qualified period in the Fundamental Law of Hungary.

Hungary has been slowly modernizing and downsizing its armed forces since it left the Warsaw Pact in 1990. Transitioning from a heavy, slow-moving Warsaw Pact force to a lighter, versatile NATO force, the Hungarian military has gone from 130,000 in 1989 to approximately 24,000 combat and combat support forces in 2008. Implementing a new training, logistics, and leadership system and a new Joint Forces Command structure, the Hungarian military has gained considerable practical experience working with NATO and other forces serving in international military missions (about 1,000 at any given time).

Enlisted personnel of the HDF serve a minimum of 3 years which can be extended to a maximum of 20 years. They form the core of the military organisations. Most of them also serve in the peacekeeping and peace support operations of the HDF. Those who plan a longer military career and have the necessary qualifications can serve as NCOs.

For NCOs – with the exception of those who take part in special training – the enlisted military service is maximum 20 years. Enlisted personnel promoted to at least staff sergeant and meeting the promotional requirements can apply for professional status. They can serve until they are aged 60, which is the upper age limit in the Hungarian Defence forces, and they are entitled to service pension. Young people between 18 and 22 who attend military technical college start their NCO service after attaining the appropriate military qualification either as enlisted or as professional soldiers.

Officers must have a university or college degree. Officer positions are mostly filled by the graduates of the National Defence University. Positions requiring special qualifications (e.g. doctor, lawyer) are taken by experts arriving from the civilian sphere. First they serve as enlisted personnel, but later on they can become professional military officers.

The Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Forces employed more than 26 000 people in 2011, which equals the population of a middle-size Hungarian town. Commissioned and non-commissioned officers assume the military career for an indefinite period. Creation of a reformed reservist organisation was underway.

By setting up a Volunteer Reserve System the strategic objectives of the MoD’s new leadership have been realized. Following the amendment of the Home Defence Act nearly two thousand reservists were trained in November and December 2010. Over the year the red sludge disaster and floods in Hungary revealed that there was a great need for reservists. By setting up a reserve system HDF will be able to accomplish spatial, disaster management. Moreover guarding military facilities and the so-called military ’critical infrastructure’ protection can be implemented more effectively in the future. By the end of year 2013 disaster management capabilities are aimed to be established, as well. From January 2011 military barracks and establishments have been guarded by soldiers. As a result the security of the objects has already improved.

The voluntary reserve system is an integral part of a modern armed force based upon professional and contracted personnel. It provides a framework for the training of our fellow countrymen wishing to take an active role in the defence of the homeland and their employment in peacetime and under special legal order. According to the stipulations in the legal regulations, during a state of national crisis or a state of preventive defence, subject to the decision by the Parliament on introducing military service based on conscription, the Hungarian Defence Forces also rely upon the military service of adult male Hungarian citizens with a residence in Hungary.




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