Belgium will withdraw a significant portion of its military support for Iraq to reinvest invest more in Afghanistan, the newly appointed Defense Minister Sander Loones reported on the 2019 plan for military operations. The new minister continues the line of the past four years, marked by the fight against terrorism.
The successes met with the ISIS allow to relax the effort in Iraq to which Belgium participates in the framework of the international operation Inherent Resolve. The Belgian army will continue its training and training missions for Iraqi troops. Members of the Belgian special forces - integrated
They can now be redeployed to Afghanistan, where Belgium is still participating in NATO's Resolute Support Mission (RSM), which aims to train local security forces.
"The Ministry of Defense plans to further increase its efforts in Afghanistan in 2019 with a detachment based on the special operations regiment supplemented by elements of support," a statement said.
This detachment could be engaged from September for a period of one year in support of the Afghan armed forces. It should consist of 135 soldiers whose tasks still have to be discussed with Belgium's partners in Afghanistan, especially Germany, which runs the northern sector of RSM.
Currently, some 90 Belgian soldiers are already present in Kabul, the capital, and in Mazar-i-Sharif, in the north of the country, to carry out training and security missions.
African field of engagement: the Sahel. Belgium will extend its support to the European Training Mission of the Malian Armed Forces and its contribution to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma). It will also continue to invest in neighboring countries, particularly Niger and Burkina Faso, whose stability has been shaken by the Malian conflict. Tunisia will also continue to receive Belgian support in its fight against terrorism through various activities: medical training, training of snipers, etc.
The Belgian commitment will also be marked in Europe, in a context of tension with Russia and American pressure on European countries to invest more in their defense. Belgium proposes to make available two detachments of 250 military personnel to reinforce collective defenses in the Baltic States as part of the "enhanced forward presence" (
During the first half of 2019, they will reinforce the British battle group deployed in Estonia and, in the second half of the year, the German battle group deployed in Lithuania.
In the naval field, Belgium will deploy a frigate for 4 months and a mine hunter for 9 months. Mr. Loones also stressed the importance of putting Defense at the service of the economic protection of the country, fighting against maritime piracy. Belgium will lead a maritime capacity building campaign in West Africa with a supply and command vessel of 90 people for ten weeks. The objective is to help some of whom Togo, Benin and Cape Verde create an autonomous maritime security capacity.
In the air sector, four F-16 fighter-bombers will be deployed from September in Lithuania for two four-month periods.