Some 300 Hungarian soldiers will leave for Afghanistan to serve at Kabul airport, in a provincial reconstruction team, an air training command team and an air advisory team from September, Defence Minister Csaba Hende said on Monday.

Minister Hende bid farewell to the soldiers at a ceremony in Szekesfehervar.

"The mission reached a decisive and critical phase. Time has come for the people of Afghanistan to take their lives in their own hands. To serve this aim, we are changing the mission and shifting emphasis on advising, mentoring and preparing. At the same time, NATO will start withdrawing its troops," the minister said.

Photo: MTI - Lajos Nagy

The Afghanistan mission is currently the most difficult and most important undertaking of the Hungarian Army, he said. Hungarian soldiers can acquire experiences there that would not be possible in the training ground, he added. As a result of NATO’s request, the Hungarian Defence Forces will take over the lead nation role in force protection at Kabul International Airport (KAIA) for six months as of October 1, 2012.