Revival of the Belgian army

A new component, a new weapon and a new cooperation should breathe new life into the defense.

Multiple investments


A new component, a new weapon and a new cooperation should breathe new life into the defense.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – This is the last phase of the Renaissance. Belgium’s Ministry of Defense has effectively created a “cyber command,” a precursor to its future fifth component. It took two years to get there. This cyber command corresponds to NATO’s recognition of cyberspace as an operational domain, alongside air, land, sea and space.

Officially, there is no money for its restoration, but the “service” is discussed in the media.

Specifically, the Cyber ​​Command (Cy Com) will be housed within the Army’s General Intelligence and Security Service (SGRS). It will be responsible for monitoring defense networks, protecting future high-tech systems (including the new F-35 fighter jets), gathering intelligence and neutralizing attacks with its “intrusive capability.”

A month ago, the Belgian army also provided itself with a new helicopter force. The NH90 helicopter, which until now was a defense priority, has now been declared unfit for certain operational missions and too expensive to maintain. 15 light helicopters of three different types will be acquired to provide support during ground operations, medical evacuation and support operations of special forces in Belgium and abroad. Or 250 million euros of equipment delivered by the end of 2024.

Promotion of European industry

We are also talking about the purchase of heavy transport helicopters in order to deploy a company of paracommandos or special forces in a fairly large area of ​​operation if necessary. Or 600 million for the purchase of 8-10 aircraft.

These purchases should, as far as possible, promote European industry.

Belgium's Crown Princess Elisabeth (2nd R) takes part in the Blue Berets parade, in which first-year students of the Royal Military Academy who have successfully completed the entry stage wear blue berets, in Brussels, September 25, 2020 - Crown Princess Elisabeth is a student this year first year of the Royal Military Academy (KMS-ERM - Ecole Royale Militaire).  (Photo by THIERRY ROGE / BELGA / AFP) / Belgium OUT

The kingdom wants to rebuild its army, while inviting its partners to do the same in the European and Atlantic framework.

These innovations and these acquisitions should make it possible to put the great invalid, which is the black-yellow-red army, on his feet. Last February, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was accompanied by the deployment of 300 Belgian soldiers to a base in Constanta, Romania, to create a deterrent force. In this regard, it turned out that if these troops had real know-how, their tank could not expand indefinitely.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Belgian army still had 92,000 soldiers, including 35,000 militia. Currently, there are about 25,000 of them. This number includes pensioners. Repeated recruitment campaigns are clearly not enough to fill the gap. And if it is mentioned here and there, then the return of mandatory military service is not on the agenda.

2% of GDP by 2035?

The hardware itself has suffered over the past few decades. M108 and M109 tracked howitzers, Leopard tanks, Cheetah anti-aircraft tanks, etc. out of date, ended up in the trash or in a museum. Of the 160 F-16s, only about fifty fighter-bombers remain in service. They are waiting to be replaced by the American F-35.

In this handout video released by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on February 15, 2022, Russian tanks can be seen leaving for Russia after joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus as part of an inspection of the Union State Response Force at a training ground near the village of  Brest.  - On February 15, 2022, Russia said it was withdrawing some of its forces near the Ukrainian border to its bases, the first major step toward de-escalation in weeks of crisis with the West.  The move comes amid intense diplomatic efforts to prevent a possible Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbor and after Moscow massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders.  (Photo courtesy of Handout / Russian Ministry of Defense / AFP) / LIMITED FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES

The supply of 2,000 FNC machine guns and 3,800 tons of fuel meets the requirements of the Ukrainian government.

Belgium’s desire now to meet NATO’s expectations, as well as the financial efforts given to Ukraine, officially herald the revival of its army. Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo, who had aimed to allocate 2% of GDP to defense by 2035, finally abandoned that deadline at the Atlantic summit in Madrid.

Such revival also requires cooperation with other states. Yes, the Grand Ducal Airbus A400M Atlas operates in the Belgo-Luxembourg division, which is based at the Melsbruck military airport. Responding to NATO’s wishes, a 700-strong Belgian-Luxembourg reconnaissance battalion should be operational by 2030.

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