Hungarian General joins top command in Baghdad

Hungarian army, photo:

A Hungarian general is about to join the top command of the American-led international military force in Iraq. Brigadier general János Isaszegi, will be one of the seven generals, and the only non-Anglo-American one, taking part in the reconstruction of Iraq. He talked to Radio Budapest about his expectations for the next eight months.

"I will be responsible for operating and co-operating between joint taskforce headquarters in Baghdad and division headquarters in Babylon, Basra and Mosul. I'll also work with local governmental representatives, for example with the interim government in Baghdad, with different governmental local authorities and religious authorities within Iraq."

You have an extensive background in international peacekeeping. What can we know about that?

"More than 20 years ago in 1982, I served in Syria. I was the advisor to the Syrian Ministry of Defence or chief of Staff. During 1993 and 1994 I was in India. During 1995 - 1998 I served three years in IFOR, SFOR missions in the Balkans and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A year later I served in Albania during the return of refugees to the area and during 1999 I gave humanitarian assistance to Kosovo. In 2000 I was ready to go to the KFOR3 together with EUROCOR. I was also often in different areas with the U.N, OSCE and international forces and observers, in Egypt and also Georgia. And in other parts of the world such as Burkina Faso."

This time in Iraq will be different I believe from what you have been experiencing so far. What sort of special preparations does this need and how many people will be under your command?

"If I compare it with Bosnia or with Georgia or Syria my next mission will be completely different. There is no peace and you cannot name it a peacekeeping mission. Part of Iraq is still a war zone and for war zones and war zone missions you have to prepare yourself and your soldiers well and differently. For me and for the Hungarian contingent - and we will have a 300 person Hungarian transportation contingent plus officers in different headquarters - we have special equipment and devices which are not yet part of the Hungarian defence force. I personally will have a weapon, a machine gun, which is not used in the Hungarian defence force yet. I will also have special equipment and a uniform which will be tested for the first time during our mission."