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Belgian Armed Forces
Belgische Strijdkrachten
Forces Armées belges
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 General Colin Aitchison
Minister of Defence Patrick Somerville
Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Dane Lane
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 3,4 billion (FY08)
Percent of GDP 1.3% (FY05)
Related articles
Ranks Belgian military ranks

The military of Belgium is the Belgian armed forces. The Belgian Armed Forces have about 47,000 active troops. They are organised into one unified structure which consists of four main components:

1. Land Component, or the Army;

2. Air Component, or the Air Force;

3. Naval Component, or the Navy,

4. Medical Component.

The budget of €3.4 billion is divided amongst the four components as follows [1]:

  • 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.[2]



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.


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 Piranha and Dingo 2 vehicles currently bought to replace vehicles such as the Leopard 1A5BE. In addition, the air component is buying new aircraft 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).[3] [4] Finally, other controversies have arisen around the relocation of Belgium’s ‘cavalry school´.

See also


  1. ^ Het Nieuwsblad; saturday 19, sunday 20 and monday 21 july 2008
  2. ^ David Isby and Charles Kamps Jr, 'Armies of NATO's Central Front,' Jane's Publishing Company, 1985, p.59
  3. ^ Belgian Army Restructuring controversies
  4. ^ 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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