According to the proposal submitted by the defence minister, up to twenty soldiers—a total of forty during the rotation period—would continue to serve in the international operation against ISIS in Iraq.
On behalf of the government, Hungarian Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky submitted an amendment proposal to parliament regarding the legislation defining military role of Hungary in Iraq, the Hungarian Ministry of Defence (HM) said.
According to the defence minister, ‘Hungary will continue to contribute to NATO’s collective defence tasks and joint action against terrorism as a valued member of the alliance.’
The minister added that the Hungarian government’s position remains clear: migration that is strongly affecting Europe must be curbed and the problem must be dealt with locally. Migration and terrorism go hand in hand, Islamic State fighters are arriving in European cities and also at Hungary’s southern border, therefore it is of utmost importance to tackle migration and terrorism. Therefore, parliament should extend the Hungarian Defence Forces’ mission in Iraq until 31 December 2025.
The Hungarian Defence Forces are currently authorised until 31 December 2023 to station a military contingent of up to 200 troops in Iraq. Under the current proposal, Hungary would send a military contingent of up to 20 troops to Iraq until 31 December 2025 for military assistance, advisory and troop escort tasks, among others, and a maximum of 40 troops in rotation. Although this represents a smaller contribution than before, the extension of the mandate of the mission will allow Hungary to continue to contribute to NATO’s efforts.
Parliament is expected to decide on the proposal this year, the Ministry of Defence said.
Hungarian Defence Forces soldiers have been serving in the Kurdish region of Iraq since 25 August 2015 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, an international coalition against the Islamic State terrorist organization, with the primary aim of dismantling ISIS and stabilizing Iraq and the region. By participating in the mission, Hungary contributed to the efforts of the global coalition to fight terrorism and prevent its spread. As part of the international mission, Hungarian Defence Forces helped the Alliance to strengthen the Iraqi government’s control over the territory, to train the Iraqi security forces and to protect local military bases.
Given that the Islamic State has suffered a complete military defeat in Iraq and Syria, the tasks in the region have also changed, which suggests that a smaller contribution will be sufficient. Based on the resolution proposal submitted, the Hungarian Defence Forces will participate in coalition operations against the terrorist organisation in the fields of partner capacity building, military assistance, and advisory services, as well as in troop escort tasks.
Last September, at the ceremonial launch of the 15th rotation of the Hungarian Defence Forces Training and Assurance Contingent in Iraq, Gábor Gion, Minister of State for Strategic Analysis and Human Resources Policy at the Ministry of Defence said:
‘Engagement in international operations is an important part of Hungary’s diplomacy, security and defence policy toolkit, which is why the Hungarian Defence Forces participate in numerous NATO, EU and UN coalition operations, and coalition partners regard us as a reliable ally.’
In September this year, the 17th rotation of the Hungarian Defence Forces Iraq Training Contingent has already been deployed. The outgoing contingent consists of a considerable number of reserve soldiers, many of whom have served in previous missions. The Hungarian troops are currently deployed to guard and protect Erbil airport, to provide Quick Reaction Force (QRF) security and to carry out patrolling duties.