Hungarian troops near the Ukrainian border - Photo: MTI

Chief of staff pledges to boost combat readiness of Hungarian army

The new chief of staff of the Hungarian Armed Forces has said he is working to boost the military's training and combat readiness.

Gabor Borondi told public broadcaster M1 on Tuesday that the armed forces must be fit to “wage a war in the country’s interest if necessary”.

“The average person may hope for the absence of war, but an army cannot be built on hope … the military must be prepared to fight and win a war,” he said, adding that “all developments should serve peace to prevent an escalation.”

Borondi said drawing the lessons of the war in Ukraine was a factor in future development planning.

“Hungarian troops stood their ground in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, but the kind of air defence involving drones as seen in the Russia-Ukraine war was not a factor then,” he said, adding that the military’s skills had “become somewhat obsolete”.

Deficiencies should be remedied and coordination within the military increased so that the army is “capable of performing tasks of national defence … and protecting the country’s territory within NATO.”

Referring to his earlier remarks to a parliamentary committee about nuclear deterrence, Borondi said he had been widely misunderstood. “I did not mean that Hungary should be involved, but pointed out the logic behind European security. Russia is a nuclear power and NATO has nuclear powers among its members. European security rests on nuclear deterrence, as both sides are aware that escalation would lead to a zero game without winners.”

On the subject of Hungary’s reserve corps, the chief of staff said: “They are our ambassadors in a given area or settlement; through them we can reach out to residents”. He added that reserve officers would get “the best of training”, including shooting drills at weekends.

He said he was planning to increase the number of participants in such exercises from the current 300-400 to 2,000-3,000.

Speaking to public radio, Borondi said the military should be prepared to face security challenges, “even if an escalation of the war does not directly affect Hungary”. “We must revive a war culture within the Hungarian Army, precisely in the interest of peace,” he said.

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