On 16 December 2013, a medal parade was held for the Austrian and Hungarian soldiers of EUFOR’s Multinational Battalion (MNBN) who will soon conclude their tour of duty with Operation ALTHEA and their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Blasch. The parade, commanded by Major Andras Palatinus, commenced with the traditional marching in of the colours of the MNBN, followed by an inspection of the troops by the Commander EUFOR, Major General Dieter Heidecker and the raising of the EU flag.
The ceremony took place inside Camp BUTMIR and was attended by senior officers from HQ EUFOR including the Chief of Staff, Brigadier General József Szpisják, the Austrian Senior National Representative (SNR), Colonel Dieter Muhr, the Hungarian SNR, Lieutenant Colonel Gabor Bartók, and the Turkish SNR, Colonel Alptenkin Tartici. Before decorating all recipients with the European Union Common Security and Defence Policy Service Medal, General Heidecker, in his address, commended the outgoing troops for their professionalism and dedication during their service with EUFOR.
MNBN Commander Lt Col Blasch also addressed the troops and expressed his earnest appreciation to all the soldiers having served together with him since taking over command on 20 August 2013. He applauded them for having carried out their duties in a very committed and proficient manner, particularly during Exercise Quick Response 2, between the 2nd and 14th of September 2013, as this hugely successful exercise not only provided his battalion with an opportunity to receive and integrate companies from Austria and Slovakia but also, during a separate phase, to jointly train together with the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AF BiH).
Training together with the AF BiH has become a regular task for the MNBN since its creation in 2007, when the security situation improved sufficiently to allow troop levels to be reduced. This also enabled EUFOR to increase its focus on capacity building and training activities with, aiming to develop the interoperability, and to further develop the capabilities of, the AF BiH in any given international peacekeeping scenario.