Defence minister and chief of defence insist Belgian military must be modernised
Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder and Chief of the Armed Forces Admiral Michel Hofman stressed the need to update the Belgian military's modernisation plans. This is to better cope with "geopolitical uncertainties".
Recently, the Belgian military leadership stressed that Belgium would not be able to defend itself for more than a few hours in the event of a large-scale conflict. At the Belgian Defence New Year's reception on Wednesday, Dedonder emphasised the need to respond to this urgent call.
"Over the next few years, our greatest challenge will be to continue to rebuild the defence forces to be able to act more autonomously, if necessary, to protect our continent and our interests," the minister said. "Our goal remains the same: to ensure the security of our country while working towards global stability."
In autumn 2023, the federal government announced it was working on a contract with the Walloon arms manufacturer FN Herstal to supply light weapons and ammunition to the Belgian military and police. This measure aligns with the STAR plan approved by the government in spring 2022 at the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. This plan foresees investments of 10.2 billion euros by 2030, in addition to the 9.2 billion euros already planned.
Increase the readiness of the armed forces in the context of collective defence
According to Chief of Defence Michel Hofman, the STAR plan is a solid foundation Belgium can build. He highlighted three pillars for updating the plan. Firstly, a budgetary adjustment to take account of inflation, and secondly, reinforcements to "increase the readiness of the armed forces in the context of collective defence". This includes replenishing stocks of ammunition and spare parts.
Finally, Hofman stressed the importance of adapting to the new way of waging war, mainly introducing new technologies such as artificial intelligence and drones and meeting capacity commitments to our allies within the European Union and NATO.
© BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND