Belgian Army

Belgian Army
Belgian Army
Armée belge / Belgisch leger
belgische Armee
Coats of arms of Belgium Military Forces.svg
Coats of arms of Belgium Military Forces
Founded 1830
Service branches Land Component
Air Component
Naval Component
Medical Component
Commander-in-Chief King Albert II
Minister of Defence Pieter De Crem (CD&V)
Chief of Defence General Charles-Henri Delcour
Military age 18 years of age (2005)
Available for
military service
2,436,736 males, age 18–49 (2005 est.),
2,369,463 females, age 18–49 (2005 est.)
Fit for
military service
1,998,003 males, age 18–49 (2005 est.),
1,940,918 females, age 18–49 (2005 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
64,263 males (2005 est.),
61,402 females (2005 est.)
Active personnel 47,000 (ranked 76th)
Reserve personnel 100,500
Budget 3.0 billion (FY09)[1]
Percent of GDP 1.2% (FY09)
Related articles
Ranks Belgian military ranks

The Belgian Army is the national military of Belgium. Since 2002, by a Royal Order issued by Albert II of Belgium the three independent armed forces were merged into one unified structure and organised with four components which consists of about 47,000 active troops. They are structured as follow:

  1. Land Component, previously known as the Land Force (Force terrestre / Landmacht / Heer);
  2. Air Component, previously known as the Air Force (Force aeriénne / Luchtmacht / Luftmacht);
  3. Marine Component, previously known as the Naval Force (Force navale / Zeemacht / Seemacht),
  4. Medical Component, previously known as the Medical Service (Service médical / Medische dienst / Sanitätsdienst).

The budget of €3.4 billion is divided amongst the four components as follows [2]:

  • 63% is spent on salaries
  • 25% is spent on equipment maintenance
  • 12% is spent on new investments

The operational commands of the components (COMOPSLAND, COMOPSAIR, COMOPSNAV and COMOPSMED) are subordinate to the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Ministry of Defence, which is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training (ACOS Ops & Trg), and to the Chief of Defence (CHOD).

The harsh lessons of World War II made collective security a priority for Belgian foreign policy. In March 1948 Belgium signed the Treaty of Brussels, and then joined NATO in 1948. However the integration of the armed forces into NATO did not begin until after the Korean War. Defence expenditure grew along with the force size. As a safeguard against Belgium being invaded again, two major bases, Kitona and Kamina, were established in the Belgian Congo. They were almost viewed as a 'national redoubt,' permitting the survival and rebuilding of forces if Belgium was again invaded.[3]



The Belgian Land, Air, and Medical Components all use the same military ranks. The Naval Component's ranks are unique in the Belgian Armed Forces.

Service Branches

Land Component

Belgian soldiers during an exercise

The Belgian Land Component is the Ground Arm of the Belgian Armed Forces. It currently has 24,361 soldiers and 10,000 civilian staff. Its equipment consists of:



Air Component

An F-16 jet of the Belgian Air Component

The Belgian Air Component is the Air Force of Belgium. It currently has 8,600 personnel. Its current aircraft are:

Fighter Aircraft:

Trainer Aircraft:


Transport Aircraft:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles:

Marine Component

A Frigate of the Belgian Navy

The Belgian Navy is the naval arm of the Belgian military. It currently has 1,600 personnel and 20 vessels. Its current vessels are:



Support Vessels:

  • A960 Godetia
  • A950 Valcke
  • A962 Belgica
  • A963 Stern
  • A996 Albatros
  • A997 Spin

Patrol Boats:

  • P902 Liberation

Auxiliary Vessels:

  • A958 Zenobe Gramme
  • A995 Spich
  • A998 Werl
  • A983 Quatuor
  • A999 Barbara


Belgium, which is a member of the NATO and the EU, is currently restructuring its army to be able to faster respond to humanitarian crises or disasters occurring in the world (peacekeeping). In order to do so, the Belgian Army is currently phasing out all tracked vehicles in favour of wheeled vehicles. Examples are the new MOWAG Piranha and Dingo 2 vehicles currently bought to replace vehicles such as the Leopard 1A5BE. In addition, the air component is buying new aircraft such as the Airbus A400M, NHI NH90 to accompany other aircraft for humanitarian missions such as the Agusta 109 and Alouette 2/3 helicopters. The transition will be complete by 2015. Due to Belgium's often-complicated politics, restructuring has led to decisions seen by some as illogical, such as the decision to mount the (very uncommon) CMI 90 mm cannon on the Piranha 3 (munition is very scarce and only made by a handful of manufacturers; it will probably be supplied by Mécar).[4][5] Finally, other controversies have arisen around the relocation of Belgium’s ‘cavalry school´.

See also


  1. ^ Defence Expenditures of NATO Countries (1985-2009)
  2. ^ Het Nieuwsblad; saturday 19, sunday 20 and monday 21 july 2008
  3. ^ David Isby and Charles Kamps Jr, 'Armies of NATO's Central Front,' Jane's Publishing Company, 1985, p.59
  4. ^ Belgian Army Restructuring controversies
  5. ^ 90mm cannons very uncommon within armies of the developed world

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2005 edition".

External links

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