SZOLNOK, Hungary --
SZOLNOK, Hungary - Hungarian Special Operations Forces, U.S. SOF from the 352d Special Operations Wing and 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conducted training in Szolnok, Hungary October 25-31 to improve interoperability and integration between the NATO SOF allies.
Earlier this year, Hungarian and U.S. SOF participated in the U.S. Special Operations Command Europe-led exercise, Trojan Footprint 19, co-hosted by Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.
“We enjoyed Trojan Footprint very much, but we wanted to train with U.S. forces again with a focus on us. We always learn a lot from working with each other,” said a Hungarian SOF soldier.
Leaders of both SOF groups determined a need for additional partner training, especially Special Operations air task group capabilities for Hungary.
“Most of our engagements with U.S. Special Operation Forces were land heavy and we had limited interaction with U.S. SOF aviation,” said Brigadier General Tanas Sandor, Commander of the Hungarian Defense Forces. “The joint training with 352d SOW provided a unique opportunity for Hungarian SOF operators and provided a tool to build personal relationships and trust among participants.”
352d SOW flew U.S. Air Force CV-22B Ospreys from RAF Mildenhall, England to Szolnok to help train Hungarian SOF on infiltration and exfiltration operations, along with night combat mission profiles and low-level flight training.
“U.S. CV-22B Ospreys are capable of these missions any time day or night, and we look forward to opportunities to train with our NATO partners on these types of capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Horton, Vice Wing Commander of the 352d Special Operations Wing.
As part of the exercise, key leaders discussed developing the special operations aviation and personnel capabilities within each command in addition to participating in a CV-22B familiarization flight over the Danube River and Budapest.
“The flight was excellent. It was my first time to fly with CV-22. I have read a couple of articles about this aircraft previously but it exceeded all my previous expectations. It is fast, agile, maneuverable and I think perfectly fits to SOF support,” said Sandor.
This exercise enabled leaders from Hungarian SOF and 352d SOW to learn from each other, minimize communication barriers and familiarize war-fighting techniques.
“If we continue to come back here, not only do we gain access to our partner’s ranges and airspace, but we also develop a strong relationship with the Hungarian people,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Keith Snook, Commander of the 7th Special Operations Squadron. “We start to work more efficiently together but more importantly, we’re able to create a model to do it in the future with other allies and partners.”
Collective training events like this not only create unified SOF, but they enhance NATO’s overall ability to respond to threats from any direction.
“Opportunities like this not only showcase the cooperation between our countries, but also strengthen our capabilities, because when we exercise, we both end up stronger,” said Marc Dillard, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. “The coordination to make this event happen has been excellent. We look forward to other opportunities like this one to train with our NATO partners. Seeing the CV-22B Osprey in action was truly impressive!”
“Training with the Hungarian Defense Forces has been an amazing opportunity to share our best practices and gain that cooperation we need if we are called to respond as NATO partners,” said Horton. “During Trojan Footprint and now with the units here at Szolnok, we’ve enjoyed their (Hungary’s) hospitality and hard work throughout the exercises.”