The military of Belgium is the Belgian armed forces. The Belgian Armed Forces have about 34,000 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 €2.77 billion is divided amongst the four components as follows :
- 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 Belgian Land Component, Air Component and Medical Component use the same military ranks. The Naval Component's ranks are unique in the Belgian Armed Forces.
Average Age of a soldier
The average age of a soldier in the Belgian armed forces is 40, one of the highest in the world. For comparison purposes, the United States
armed forces had an average age of 28, which is considered one of the lowest in the world.
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 90mm cannon on the Piranha 2 (munition is very scarce and only made by a handful of manufacturers; it will probably be supplied by Mécar). Finally, other controversies have arisen around the relocation of Belgium’s ‘cavalry school´.