FORT POLK, La. – Soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team partnered with Hungarian Defence Forces during their monthlong training at the Joint Readiness Training Center.
For nearly two weeks, members of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) trained alongside their counterparts from Hungary in a partnership that began in 1993 as part of the Department of Defense’s State Partnership Program.
Cpl. Jacob East, a signal support system specialist radio operator with the 37th IBCT, drilled with the Hungarian soldiers and said he was impressed with their interactions.
“The Hungarian forces are allies, and they are very supportive and helpful. They are 110%. They provided our security and they did everything they could to secure us,” East said. “They wanted to continuously pull security for me even though we were in a safe zone, and not just me but our entire team.”
As part of the bilateral exercise, about 130 HDF members trained alongside the 37th IBCT Soldiers and units from several other National Guard states on large-scale combat operations.
“It is a very great exercise. We learn a lot from each other. The climate’s very different from my country, so I had to adapt to this, but we are doing our best,” said Sgt. Zsolt Lazar, an instructor for the Hungarian Defence Forces. “I am a squad leader here of the Hungarians, and my favorite part is actually when we do our job and we have to do our best and we can do our best, in every circumstance.”
Participants training at the JRTC, which offers one of the most rigorous training environments for U.S. and foreign military units, displayed great resilience.
“I know I’ve bettered myself through this, and I hope that everybody is getting at least half of what I’m getting from this training,” East said. “It’s going to be good for me to pass this on to future Soldiers, whether they be uniforms or anyone else. I think this experience is giving me enough to be able to prepare people a little bit for what’s to come.”
The 28-year partnership between Ohio and Hungary has developed lasting friendships through multiple exchanges each year at locations across Europe and North America.