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​MILITARY ENGINEERS IN THE HUNGARIAN DEFENCE FORCES

As the First World War sapper colonel Ágost Jacobi defined more than 100 years ago: ”engineer soldiers are the people of a combatant family, which have not fought only with weapons in hand, but also with knowledge, special equipment, training, and ingenuity. It was the most faithful and essential companion of combat troops"

The First World War was a turning point in the history of the military engineer troops: the organization, the task and the tools have changed significantly. New tasks and new challenges have emerged; unprecedented destructive devices have been deployed. The military engineers faced these changes unprepared, but for that they could not prepare, they tried to resolve by ingenuity, perseverance and professional humility.

Due to the changing security environment and tasks arising from NATO and EU membership, the Hungarian Defence Force's (HDF) main priority is generating combat ready, rapid reaction, deployable, expeditionary military capabilities. Besides their expeditionary capabilities the HDF are also developing existing ones and reactivating recently cancelled where possible. The HDF are able to successfully meet different security challenges like disasters threatening the country's population or peace support operations conducted in faraway regions.

The MILENG is one of the main components of the Hungarian Defence Forces. They blend the military traditions with the requirements and capabilities of the modern age.

Type, organization and structure of MILENG

HDF has two direct subordinated regiments under the umbrella of the Joined Command. The first is the HDF 37th Ferenc II. Rákóczi Engineer Regiment. Their main task is the direct support of manoeuver units mainly for mobility, counter mobility and general engineering.

The other is the HDF 1st Honvéd Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Warship Regiment. Within the territory of Hungary all of the EOD incidents are military responsibility. Day after day, they deploy to neutralize the remnants of the Secound World War. The unexploded explosive ordnances (UXOs) strewn around the country, including artillery shells, hand grenades, aerial bombs and different types of mines. They also guard and secure River Danube, the main waterway of the nation, and demine if needed. They are ready to neutralize conventional and regular types of UXOs as well as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the favourite weapons of modern-day terrorism.

Beyond the two regiments the infantry brigades have a sapper battalion to provide combat engineer support for them. The other arms regiments have company or platoon size engineer units subordinated.

The Air Force has altogether three air bases, where engineer units also provide airfield maintenance and recovery capabilities.

Experiences from deployments

Military Engineers have been deployed several times in support of Hungarian contingents and different coalitions during missions abroad under NATO umbrella showing the high and sound level of interoperability with other Nations. Worth mentioning from the MILENG point of view the missions in Bosnia and Herczegovina, at the IFOR and SFOR missions, where they provided the freedom of movement for the whole theatre.

The Hungarian involvement resulted in:

  • 30 permanent bridges built, including wood bridges up to MLC 60;
  • 32 km fixed public road,
  • 65 km fixed railroad;
  • 100000 m2 area demined,
  • and the support to the renovation of the famous bridge of Mostar which connects the Christians and Muslims in the region.

The other significant mission was the ISAF, where HUN MILENG was able to adapt to the ever changing battlefield and answer to the challenges especially countering the IED-s. Hungarian MILENG forces uses the Lessons Learned from these and the ancestor`s hundreds of years of experience to meet the challenges of the future.