“The National Security Cabinet has adopted the new National Security Strategy”, Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő announced at his annual year evaluation and task-setting leadership meeting in Budapest on Tuesday. According to the Minister, the development of the military strategy has also begun parallel to this.
“The military part of the National Security Strategy places priority emphasis on the issue of European defence capability. This not only affects the sphere of competence of the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Force Command, but that of all ministries”, Mr. Benkő said. With relation to European defence capability, he mentioned as an example the reinforcement of relations with France and with the United Kingdom.
He also mentioned that it is extremely important with relation to the country’s international role that the number of attaché offices are increased. “Three new attaché offices were opened last year at various embassies, and we are planning the opening of three further attaché offices again this year”, he stated.
“We are progressing according to the plan and programme”, the Minister declared. “The new technical instruments, the stock of equipment and the development projects underway are proof of this”? he stated.
Mr. Benkő said one of the priority tasks for 2020 include the continuation of organisational restructuring, the establishment of international command bodies, the continuation of the transferal of the Hungarian Defence Force Command to Székesfehérvár, the reorganisation of the military supplementation system, and preparations for the 2020 Miklós Zrinyi commemorative year and the air show planned for next summer. Reporting on the expected developments during 2020, he said equipment is arriving according to schedule.
He also spoke about the fact that the Hungarian Army Medical Centre in Budapest will be undergoing a structural reorganisation. “We want to occupy a leading place in the development of Hungarian healthcare”, the Minister declared. Later in response to a question, he explained that mandate of the Hungarian Army Medical Centre’s medical director had expired at the end of his probationary period as a result of the organisational restructuring.
In his lecture, the Minister pointed out that the disintegration of the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Force Command., as a result of which defence sector and military tasks have become separated. As he explained, the Ministry now has three tasks: It must determine what it expects from military personnel and the Hungarian Defence Force, it must assign funding to the various tasks, and its third task is strict monitoring and control.
“The goal with the establishment of the Hungarian Defence Force Command was to put all of the necessary money and equipment into the hands of soldiers. “This is what is required to enable soldiers to perform their duties in accordance with the law, but the application of these monies must be strictly monitored”, he noted.
“A new world order is in the making, and military challenges are also undergoing significant change. A new form of warfare has appeared, hybrid warfare, there are many unstable states, and news reports concerning various terrorist attacks remain an everyday occurrence”, the Minister highlighted. ‘In addition, the country has been fighting against mass illegal migration sine 2015. He also mentioned that NATO is calculating with two sources of danger: an eastern (Russian) and southern threat. “The latter is gaining increasing significance at various level NATO meetings.”, he stated.
“Taking into account the security environment, the government has decided that the country requires a modern and effective army with modern equipment that is made up of loyal soldiers who are committed to their homeland. It is through this that we can assure the country’s security and contribute to international security”, he highlighted.
“Peace in the Western Balkans is a key issue for Hungary”, the Minister said. “We wish to establish an even stronger, even more serious and even more dependable system of tasks in the Western Balkans”, he stated. “We not only have to be prepared in the Western Balkans and the Baltic States, but also in Central Europe”, he added, however. “This is why we have initiated the establishment of a multinational divisional command and a regional special operations command”, he explained. “We have taken the initial steps towards the establishment of a Hungarian defence industry and have also achieved progress with relation to the establishment of a reservist system”, he said.
He said reinforcing relations with society and training new soldiers was a high priority explaining that the Hungarian Defence Force is continuously growing, but not at the desired level. The number of voluntary reserve soldiers is increasing rapidly. The Minister highlighted the expansion of the military cadet programme, declaring the 8-10 military secondary schools are required by 2030.
“The Zrinyi 2026 Defence and Military Development Programme will also be continuing this year”, the Minister said. With relation to the results so far, the mentioned the manufacturing of Hungarian small arms and the procurement of multifunctional Airbus helicopters. He pointed out that part of the program related to soldiers. “Of key importance in this is maintaining contact with society, as well as the career model”, he stated. As he highlighted, the latter must be continuously updated. The other part of the programme concerns military development, with relation to which he emphasised the importance of research & development and innovation.
Moving on to financing, he said this task represents one of the greatest challenges. “The Hungarian Defence Force has had to be operated using funding that previously did not exist. The Defence and Military Development Programme has now also received the necessary financial resources”, he declared.
He also spoke about NATO’s expectations, according to which at least 20 percent of defence spending must be spent on military development. “We have overfulfilled this obligation” he stated, pointing out that the government has also undertaken to achieve a ratio of 2 percent of GDP with relation to defence expenditure.
He said that the last 5 percent of the average 50 percent total pay increase begun in 2016 was realised this year. “In addition, in recognition of the uniformed armed services, soldiers received a 500-thousand-forint “weapon supplement” last year, and received a 10 percent wage increase in January of this year”, he added.