Belgian Land Component
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
Composante terre / Landcomponent
2002-present: Land Component
|Size||12.000 military personnel; 2.000 civilian personnel|
|Commander||Major-General Eddy Testelmans|
The Land Component (Dutch: Landcomponent, French: Composante terre), formerly the Belgian Land Force, is the land-based branch of the Belgian Armed Forces. The current chief of staff of the Land Component is Major-General Eddy Testelmans.
For a detailed history of the Belgian Army from 1830 to post 1945 see Belgian Armed Forces.
Ranks in use by the Belgian Army are listed at Belgian military ranks.
According to the Law of 16 August 1873, the army was to consist of:
- 14 regiments of line infantry (three active battalions, one inactive and one company in each regiment depot)
- 3 regiments of Jäger (ditto)
- 1 regiment of grenadiers (ditto)
- 1 regiment of Carabinier (four battalions active, 2 inactive and 1 depot company of deposit)
- 2 companies settled
- 1 discipline body
- 1 school of children troop
Note: a battalion (864 men) consists of four companies of 216 men
- 4 regiments of lancers (4 active squadrons and one reinforcement in each regiment)
- 2 regiments of guides (ditto)
- 2 regiments of Chasseur (ditto)
Note: a squadron had approximately 130 horses
- 4 regiments of artillery (10 batteries in each regiment)
- 3 regiments of fortress artillery or siege artillery (16 batteries, 1 battery and 1 spare battery depot in each regiment)
- 1 pontoon company
- 1 company of artificers
- 1 company of gunsmiths
- 1 company of artillery workers
Note: A battery has 6 guns
- 1 Engineer Regiment (3 active battalions and one depot battalion)
- 1 railway company
- 1 campaign Telegraph company
- 1 telegraph room company
- 1 pontoon room company
- 1 workers company
- 7 train companies
World War I
A major reorganisation of the army had been authorised by the government in 1912, providing for a total army of 350,000 men - 150,000 in the field forces, 130,000 in fortress garrisons and 70,000 reserves and auxiliaries. However, this reorganisation was nowhere near complete - it was planned for completion by 1926 - and only 117,000 men could be mobilised for the field forces, with the other branches equally deficient.
The Commander-in-Chief was King Albert I, with Lieutenant-General Chevalier de Selliers de Moranville as the Chief of the General Staff.
- 1st Division (Lieutenant-General Baix) - around Ghent.
- 2nd Division (Lieutenant-General Dassin) - Antwerp.
- 3rd Division (Lieutenant-General Leman) - around Liège.
- 4th Division (Lieutenant-General Michel) - Namur and Charleroi.
- 5th Division (Lieutenant-General Ruwet) - around Mons.
- 6th Division (Lieutenant-General Albert Lantonnois van Rode) - Brussels.
- Cavalry Division (Lieutenant-General de Witte) - Brussels.
In addition, there were garrisons at Antwerp, Liège and Namur, each placed under the command of the local divisional commander.
Each division contained three mixed brigades (of two infantry regiments and one artillery regiment), one cavalry regiment, and one artillery regiment, as well as various support units. Each infantry regiment contained three battalions, with one regiment in each brigade having a machine-gun company of six guns. An artillery regiment had three batteries of four guns.
The nominal strength of a division varied from 25,500 to 32,000 all ranks, with a total strength of eighteen infantry battalions, a cavalry regiment, eighteen machine-guns, and forty-eight guns. Two divisions (the 2nd and 6th) each had an additional artillery regiment, for a total of sixty guns.
The Cavalry Division had two brigades of two regiments each, three horse artillery batteries, and a cyclist battalion, along with support units; it had a total strength of 4,500 all ranks with 12 guns, and was - in effect - little more than a reinforced brigade.
The Belgian Army stubbornly resisted during the early days of the war, with the army - around a tenth the size of the Germany Army - holding up the German offensive for nearly a month, giving their French and British allies time to strengthen for the Marne counteroffensive later in the year.
World War II
In 1940, the Belgian Army was organized as follows. The King of Belgium was the commander in chief. There were 100,000 active duty personnel with army strength reaching 550,000 when mobilized. There were five corps, including three Active Army Corps (Infantry); Brussels, Antwerp, and Liege and later as follows:
The I Corps with the 1st, 4th, and 7th Infantry Divisions; the II Corps with the 6th, 11th, and 14th Infantry Divisions; the III Corps with the 1st Chasseurs Ardennais and the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions; the IV Corps with the 9th, 15th, and 18th Infantry Divisions; and the V and VI Corps with three divisions each. Army Corps consisted of Corps Staff, two active and several reserve Infantry Divisions, Corps Artillery Regiment of 4 battalions of two batteries with 16 artillery pieces per battalion, and a Pioneer regiment.
The infantry divisions had a division staff and three infantry regiments each of 3,000 men. each regiment had 108 light machineguns, 52 heavy machineguns, nine heavy mortars or infantry gun howitzers, and six antitank guns.
There was also a cavalry Corps of two divisions.
Within the Free Belgian Forces that were formed in Great Britain during the occupation of Belgium between 1940–45, there was a land force formation, the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade. An additional three divisions were raised and trained in Northern Ireland, but the war ended before they could see action. However, they joined the initial Belgian occupation force in Germany, I Belgian Corps, whose headquarters moved to Luedenscheid in October 1946. Of the 75,000 troops that found themselves in Germany on 8 May 1945, the vast majority had been recruited after the liberation of Belgium.
During the Cold War, Belgium provided the I Belgian Corps (HQ Haelen Kaserne, Junkersdorf, Lindenthal (Cologne)), consisting of the 1st Infantry Division in Liège and 16th Mechanised Division in Neheim-Hüsten, to NATO's Northern Army Group for the defence of West Germany. There were also two reserve brigades (10th Mechanised Brigade, Limbourg, and the 12th Motorised Brigade, Liège), slightly bigger than the four active brigades, which were intended as reinforcements for the two divisions. Interior forces comprised the Para-Commando Regiment in Heverlee, three national defence light infantry battalions (5th Chasseurs Ardennais, 3rd Carabiniers-cyclistes, and 4th Carabiniers-cyclistes), four engineer battalions and nine provincial regiments with two to five light infantry battalions each. (Isby and Kamps, 1985, 64, 72)
After the end of the Cold War, forces were reduced. Initial planning in 1991 called for a Belgian-led corps with 2 or 4 Belgian brigades, a German brigade, and possibly a U.S. brigade. However, by 1992 this plan was looking unlikely and in 1993 a single Belgian division with two brigades became part of the Eurocorps.
The Land Component is organised using the concept of capacities, whereby units are gathered together according to their function and material. Within this framework, there are five capacities: command, combat, support, services and training.
The command capacity groups the following levels of command: COMOPSLAND (Operational Command of the Land Component), Medium Brigade at Leopoldsburg (formed from the 1st Mechanised Brigade in 2011) and Light Brigade (formerly the 7th Mechanised Brigade) at Marche-en-Famenne.
The combat capacity comprises the main fighting units of the Land Component. It consists of two Para-Commando battalions, the Special Forces Group and five infantry battalions. The infantry battalions are the Regiment Liberation - 5th of the Line, the Regiment Carabiniers Prince Baudouin - Grenadiers, the Regiment of Ardennes Rifles, the Regiment 12th of the Line Prince Leopold - 13th of the Line and the 1st/3rd Lancers Regiment.
The support capacity is, as its name suggests, the support arm of the Land Component and comprises one reconnaissance units, a unit for information analysis, civilian-military cooperation and operational communication unit (known as the Information Operations Group or 17 Recce, based at Heverlee), one artillery unit and two engineer battalions. The reconnaissance unit is the Bataillon de Chasseurs à Cheval. The artillery unit is the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment. The engineer battalions are the 4th and the 11th Engineer Battalion.
The service capacity comprises communication and information systems (CIS) groups, three logistics battalions, the Military Police Group and the Military Detachment Palace of the Nation, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (known as DOVO in Dutch and SEDEE in French, the Movement Control Group and the training centres and camps. The three CIS groups are: the 4th, the 6th and the 10th Group CIS. The logistics battalions are: the 4th, the 18th and the 29th. The Belgian Military Police Group (Groupe Police Militaire / Groep Militaire Politie - Gp MP) is a joint force made up of about 200 personnel assigned to five detachments located around the country. The Military Police Group staff is located in the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the Brussels suburb of Evere. Alpha Detachment located at Evere covers the province of Flemish Brabant and the capital, Brussels. Bravo Detachment covers Walloon Brabant, Hainaut and Namur areas and is located at Nivelles. Charlie Detachment located at Marche-en-Famenne covers the Liege and Luxembourg areas. Delta Detachment covers the Limburg and Antwerp areas and is located at Leopoldsburg. Echo Detachment located at Lombardsijde covers West and East Flanders.
The training capacity comprises four departments: the Training Department Infantry at Arlon, the Training Department Armour-Cavalry at Leopoldsburg, the Training Department Artillery at Brasschaat and the Training Department Engineers at Namur.
Some of the regiments in the Land Component, such as the Regiment 12th of the Line Prince Leopold - 13th of the Line, have names consisting of multiple elements. This is the result of a series of amalgamations which took place over the years. The Regiment 12th of the Line Prince Leopold - 13th of the Line was created in 1993 as a result of the merger of the 12th Regiment of the Line Prince Leopold and the 13th Regiment of the Line.
There are two Brigades and they are organised as follows:
|Medium Brigade||Light Brigade|
|HQ Company "8/9 Linie"||HQ Company "4 Rgt. Commando"|
|Mechanized Inf. Rgt. "1/3 Lanciers"||Light Inf. Rgt. "12 Ligne Prince Léopold- 13 Ligne"|
|Mechanized Inf. Rgt. "Chasseurs Ardennais"||2nd Commando Battalion|
|Mech. Inf. Rgt. "Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn- Grenadiers"||3rd Paratroop Battalion|
|Mechanized Inf. Rgt. "Bevrijding- 5 Linie"||Special Forces Group|
|Pistols and Submachine Guns|
|Browning GP||9x19 mm||Belgium||Standard issue firearm, being phased out in favour of the FN Five-seven.|
|FN Five-seven||5.7x28 mm||Belgium||Formerly issued to pilots and SFG members, now entering service as the standard issue sidearm of the Belgian Land Component.|
|FN P90||5.7x28 mm||Belgium||Personal defence weapon used by selected troops, including special forces.|
|Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles and Carbines|
|FN FNC||5.56×45 mm||Belgium||Service rifle|
|FN F2000||5.56×45 mm||Belgium||Used by special forces, and elsewhere in limited quantities to serve alongside the FN FNC.|
|FN SCAR||5.56×45 mm (SCAR-L)
7.62×51 mm (SCAR-H)
|Belgium||4500 SCAR-L & 287 SCAR-H rifles ordered and will enter service between 2015-2017 as the new service rifle.|
|Accuracy International Arctic Warfare||7.62×51 mm||United Kingdom|
|M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle||12.7×99mm||United States||47 Barret M107A1 rifles entered service by the end of 2014.|
|FN Minimi||5.56x45 mm||Belgium||Light machine gun|
|FN MAG||7.62x51 mm||Belgium||General-purpose machine gun|
|M2HB||12.7 x 99 mm||United States||Heavy Machine Gun|
|Remington 870||12-gauge||United States||In service since 2008|
|Anti-tank Missile Launchers|
|Anti-tank Rocket Launchers|
|Panzerfaust 3||110 mm||Germany||Anti-tank rocket launcher.|
|Anti-air Missile Launchers|
|MISTRAL||France||Infrared surface-to-air missile. 30 in service|
|120 RT Mortar||120 mm||France||About 30 in use|
|M1 Mortar||81 mm||United States||About 42 in use|
|M19 Mortar||60 mm||United States||About 60 used by the ParaCommando regiment for light fire support.|
|LG1 Mark II Howitzer||105 mm||France||About 24 in use|
|Mecar M72 HE grenade||NA||Belgium||Fragmentation hand grenade|
|Mecar M93BG grenade||NA||Belgium||Rifle grenade for the FN FNC|
|M18 grenade||NA||United States||Smoke hand grenade|
|M6A2 Mine||NA||United States||Anti-tank mine|
|HAFLA||NA||Germany||Single-shot, disposable incendiary weapon|
The Belgian Army is currently undergoing a major re-equipment programme for most of its vehicles. The aim is to phase out all tracked vehicles in favour of wheeled vehicles. In 2010, 40 Leopard 1 tanks were still waiting to be sold, the rest were transferred to Lebanon - the tank units have been disbanded or have been amalgamated with the Armoured Infantry (2 Inf Coy and 1 Tk Sqn per Bn). As of 2013, only some M113 variants (Radar, recovery,Command post and driving school vehicle) and Leopard variants (Recovery, AVLB, Pionier, driving tanks) will remain in service.
The Leopard 1A5 tank was retired on 10 September 2014. 56 of the tanks will be sold, about 24 will stay as historic monuments or serve as a museum pieces; the rest will be phased out or used for target practice.
|AIV||Switzerland||Armoured fighting vehicle||268||7 variants:
|Pandur I||Austria||Armoured personnel carrier||59||45 Reconnaissance variants, 10 Ambulance variants and 4 Maintenance variants.|
|MPPV||Germany||Infantry mobility vehicle||218||156 FUS variants for troop transport, 52 Command Post (CP) variants and 10 Ambulance variants.|
|Iveco LMV||Italy||Light utility vehicle||620||Replacing the Volkswagen Iltis, 180 with optional removable ballistic protection kits|
|Iltis||Germany||Light utility vehicle||2150||Being phased out|
|M-Gator||United States||Light utility vehicle||For medical evacuation|
|Iveco M250||Italy||Medium Heavy Truck||400||350 with optional removable ballistic protection kits|
- JCB Groundhog - Light utility buggy for airborne units
- Unimog U1350L - Light utility vehicle
- BMW R 1150 RT - Military Police motorcycle
- Volvo Trucks N10 - 10T 6x4 medium truck
- URO VAMTAC - 4x4 light truck for NBC decontamination
- Iveco EuroCargo - 7.5T 4x2 light truck
- Mercedes-Benz 814 Transporter - light truck
- Iveco EuroTrakker MP410 E44H - 16T 8x4 heavy truck for containerised transport
- Scania T144 - 6x4 tank transporter
- Scania P124 CA - 6x4 heavy plant transporter
- Renault Kerax - 30T 8x4 heavy recovery vehicle
- Caterpillar D6 - tracked bulldozer
- Case 9013 - tracked excavator
- Liebherr Litronic 912 - tracked excavator
- Fiat-Hitachi W170 - wheeled loader
- Krupp AS35 - wheeled lifting crane
- Grove GMK3050 - wheeled all-terrain crane
In addition a number of other light utility vehicles are used.
- MAP - NATO :
- SP artillery
- George Nafziger's order of battle for the Belgian Army in 1914 can be seen at http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/CGSC/CARL/nafziger/914WAAA.pdf
- Isby and Kamps, 1985, 59
- Entre rEssEntimEnt et ré-éducation: L’Armée belge d’Occupation et les Allemands, 1945-1952, accessed August 2014.
- Steven J. Zaloga, Tank War: Central Front NATO vs Warsaw Pact, Osprey Elite 26, 1989, p.25. See also (Fr) Les Forces Belges en Allemagne, accessed April 2009
- "Cold War Battle Orders Make Way for a New NATO Era", Jane's Defence Weekly, June 8, 1991, p. 961.
- Decision Soon on Division, JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY, 20-Mar-1993, and Belgian Division Joins Eurocorps, Jane's Defence Weekly, 23 October 1993
- "Belgian Defence Remington 870 fact sheet". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Belgium selects Spike missile to replace Milan - Armyrecognition.com, January 3, 2013
- "Belgian Defense Information". European Defense Information. Armed Forces.co.uk. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- "Cav Onderwerp Materieel in gebruik LMV". Mil.be. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "Cav Onderwerp Materieel in gebruik Iltis 4x4". Mil.be. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Army of Belgium.|
- Belgian Army website (in French)
- Belgian Army website (in Dutch)
- http://www.sfg.be - The Special Forces Group of the belgian army