Like many other countries, Belgium is engaged in the Middle East in the fight against Daesh and to help train the Iraqi army. The Land Component continues to ensure the surveillance of six Dutch F-16s at the Azraq airbase in Jordan. Positions will be swapped from July 2016 when the F-16s will be replaced by Belgian ones, protected, in turn, by the Dutch army.
Belgium will prolong its contribution to the Building Partner Capacity programme by supplying 30 army instructors to the Valiant Phoenix training mission in Baghdad. It will also continue its invovlement in operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan until June when the Belgian government will decide whether to prolong this mission which is principally centred on the surveillance of sensitive sites.
An historic NATO partner, Belgium will continue to deploy its resources in a wide variety of Assurance Measures operations including the deployment of an infantry company in the Baltic states.
At home, the Belgian armed forces saw the biggest deployment of troops since the end of World War II with operation Vigilant Guardian. Since 17 January 2015, 9,000 military personnel, some from the Air Component, have patrolled the streets of five Belgian cities. Hundreds will continue to be deployed in 2016, according to Colonel Bart Hubrechtsen of the Operations and Training Chief of Staff department.
In the current security context, the Belgian armed forces will have moved from 10 or so operations in 2014 to around 17 major deployments in 2016 both at home and abroad. Despite budgetary cuts, the armed forces remain “at the disposal of the Belgian government” says Hubrechtsen. Proof that in Belgium one can undertake much with little.