Speaking at a press conference held in Kelebia, Bács-Kiskun County, Chief of Defence Gen. Dr Tibor Benkő announced that the Kelebia border protection base of the Hungarian Defence Forces has been completed, and the installations at Bácsalmás, Madaras and Hercegszántó are expected to be finished by the spring. These facilities will provide modern field accommodation for altogether 600 men.
The Chief of Defence told the press that the soldiers are going to be on duty along the border until the end of the migration pressure on Hungary. He added that he hopes that their strength can be reduced by building the second line of fence, which would enable allocating more time for purposes of their training and preparation.
He pointed out that increasing attention is being focused on the Serbian-Hungarian border section where the soldiers have constructed some 170-km-long barrier system. The same border protection system has been constructed along the Croatian-Hungarian border with a length of approx. 136 kilometres.
The now completed Kelebia border protection base provides adequate accommodation for the soldiers, one which meets the requirements of the age. The construction of the four installations, suitable for providing rest and accommodation for 150 men each, started last autumn in Kelebia, Bácsalmás, Madaras and Hercegszántó. According to plans, the bases at the latter three places will be completed by this spring, and, if necessary, an extra floor can be built on top of the containers, so the total holding capacity of 600 can be doubled any time.
The soldiers are accommodated in four-person containerized housing units equipped with electric heating and air conditioning. In addition, there is a dining facility on the base, and a separate block for providing medical service. There is also a room for morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) activities, which is equipped with table tennis and snooker tables and a darts board, as well as a laundry with washing machine and tumble-dryer, WiFi internet and a mobile store.
Consisting of around 90 containers, the base provides accommodation and meal for soldiers up to company strength, and includes the necessary office and warehouse functions as well. With the establishment of the camp in Kelebia, the soldiers are now much closer to their duty station, as previously they had to travel 20 kilometres or so to reach it from their place of accommodation at Mélykút.
Gen. Tibor Benkő emphasised that over the last one and a half years, more than 15,000 soldiers have already been assigned border protection duties. Furthermore, in 2016, Hungarian troops have participated in more than 40 domestic and international exercises, and carried out tasks in foreign missions in 12 different places on three continents.
He also noted that the conditions for the military career path model had been created by 1 January 2017. This model supports the characteristics of military service and rests on three pillars, namely a system ensuring adequate promotion and salary, the health promotion programs and housing benefit for the soldiers.
“We expect all soldiers to learn and develop themselves, to gain higher qualifications and language proficiency”, the general stated, adding that the salaries are proportional to these requirements.
He announced that a 30 per cent pay rise was made in the summer of 2015, a further five per cent one in 2016 and yet another five per cent one on 1 January 2017.
He underlined that the Hungarian Defence Forces provide housing benefit for soldiers who have to change their duty station and that thanks to the system of health promotion programs, it is possible to take care of those who suffered health damage.
Finally, he said that the motor pool of 90 all-terrain vehicles that entered service in 2016 would be expanded with another 100 ones this year. These vehicles will primarily help the work of border protection patrols.
Photo: Károly Árvai / Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister