Belgian Land Component
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French: Composante terre
Flag of the Land Component since 1982
|Active||1830–2002 (as the Belgian Army)|
2002–present (as the Belgian Land Component)
|Allegiance||King of the Belgians|
|Size||10,000 personnel |
|Part of||Belgian Armed Forces|
|Commander||Major-General Pierre Gérard|
The Land Component (Dutch: Landcomponent, French: Composante terre) is the land branch of the Belgian Armed Forces. The King of the Belgians is the commander in chief. The current chief of staff of the Land Component is Major-General Pierre Gérard.
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 reserve and one company in each regiment depot)
- 3 regiments of Jäger (three active battalions, one reserve and one company in each regiment depot)
- 1 regiment of grenadiers (three active battalions, one reserve and one company in each regiment depot)
- 1 regiment of Carabinier (four active battalions, 2 reserve and 1 depot company of deposit)
- 2 companies settled
- 1 discipline body
- 1 military school for children of servicemen
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)
- 4 regiments of guides (4 active squadrons and one reinforcement in each regiment)
- 2 regiments of Chasseur (4 active squadrons and one reinforcement in each regiment)
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 by 1926 - 150,000 in the field forces, 130,000 in fortress garrisons and 70,000 reserves and auxiliaries. At the outbreak of war this reorganisation was nowhere near complete 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 Antonin de Selliers de Moranville as the Chief of the General Staff from 25 May 1914 until 6 September 1914 when a Royal Decree abolished the function of Chief of Staff of the army. In this way the King secured his control of the command.
- 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.
World War II
In 1940, the King of Belgium was the commander in chief of the Belgian Army which had 100,000 active duty personnel; its strength could be raised to 550,000 when fully mobilized. The army was composed of seven infantry corps, that were garrisoned at Brussels, Antwerp, and Liege, and two divisions of partially-mechanised cavalry Corps at Brussels and the Ardenne. The Corps were as follows:
- I Corps with the 1st, 4th, and 7th Infantry Divisions
- II Corps with the 6th, 11th, and 14th Infantry Divisions
- III Corps with the 1st Chasseurs Ardennais and the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions
- IV Corps with the 9th, 15th, and 18th Infantry Divisions
- V Corps with three divisions
- VI Corps with three divisions
Each Army Corps had its own headquarters staff, two active and several reserve Infantry Divisions, Corps Artillery Regiment of four battalions of two batteries with 16 artillery pieces per battalion, and a Pioneer regiment.
Each infantry divisions had a divisional staff along with three infantry regiments, each of 3,000 men. Each regiment had 108 light machine guns, 52 heavy machine guns, nine heavy mortars or infantry gun howitzers, plus six antitank guns.
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 as 1 Brigade and 1 Special Operations Regiment. In total, the Land Component consists of almost 10,000 military personnel (as of 2019). After the 2018 reforms, the ground forces are organised as following:
COMPONSLAND (the HQ of the Land Component) It oversees and plans all activities and operations of the land component.
- Motorized Brigade at Leopoldsburg (formed from the Medium Brigade). The brigade comprises about 6,500 soldiers divided into 14 units. The combat capacity consists of 5 motorized infantry battalions equipped with VBMR Griffon vehicles, which are supported by 2 engineer battalions, 2 logistic battalions, 2 CIS groups (communications), 1 field artillery battalion, 1 reconnaissance (ISTAR) battalion equipped with EBRC Jaguar vehicles, 2 military training camps and the 8/9 line HQ company.
- Special Operations Regiment (formerly the Light Brigade) at Marche-en-Famenne. The regiment has more than 1,500 elite soldiers under its command. It plans and carries out special operations all around the world and is the main expeditionary unit of the Belgian ground forces. The regiment consists of the 2nd commando battalion, the 3rd parachute battalion, the special forces group (SFG) the 6th communications group, parachute and commando training centres and the 4th commando HQ company. All units have airborne capabilities. The regiment operates light armoured vehicles to maneuver across difficult terrains.
The service capacity comprises the Military Police Group, the Explosive Removal and Destruction Service (known as DOVO in Dutch and SEDEE in French, the Movement Control Group, the information operations group and the training centres and camps. 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.
|Browning GP||9×19mm||Belgium||Standard issue sidearm. Almost completely phased out by the FN Five-seven|
|FN Five-seven mk2||5.7×28 mm||Belgium||Formerly issued to pilots and SFG members. Now entering service as the standard issue sidearm|
|Glock 17||9×19mm||Austria||Used by the SOBU and DAS.|
|FN Uzi||9×19mm||Israel Belgium||Made under license by FN Herstal and used as a personal defence weapon for Special Forces, Navy, and Medical personnel. Almost completely phased out by the FN P90|
|FN P90||5.7×28 mm||Belgium||Personal defence weapon used by medical component personnel and SFG - Special Operations Boat Unit|
|MP9||9×19mm||Switzerland||Used by DAS|
|Assault rifles, battle rifles and carbines|
|FN FNC||5.56×45mm||Belgium||Used by recruits for training|
|FN F2000||5.56×45mm||Belgium||Used by SOR Pathfinders in limited quantities to serve alongside the FN SCAR|
|FN SCAR-L STD||5.56×45mm||Belgium||SCAR-L in use as the new standard service rifle|
|FN SCAR-L CQC||5.56×45mm||Belgium||Standard service rifle of the Belgian special forces group|
|FN SCAR-H CQC||7.62×51mm||Belgium||63 SCAR-H CQC ordered for special forces combat divers|
|FN SCAR-H PR||7.62×51mm||Belgium||287 SCAR-H PR rifles on order to replace the AW between 2015 and 2017|
|Accuracy International Arctic Warfare||7.62×51mm||United Kingdom||Almost completely replaced by a combination of SCAR-H PR, AXMC, and M107A1|
|Accuracy International AXMC||.338 LM||United Kingdom|
|Barrett M107A1||12.7×99mm||United States||59 delivered by the end of 2014|
|FN Minimi 5.56 Mk3 Tactical SB||5.56×45mm||Belgium||Standard issue LMG. Currently being updated to 'Mk3 Tactical SB' standards, featuring a shorter barrel, adjustable buttstock with shoulder rest, ergonomic railed handguard, new bipod assembly and cocking handle.|
|FN Minimi 7.62 Mk3||7.62×51mm||Belgium||The Belgian government signed a 2 million euro contract to replace all MAG's with 242 Minimi's chambered in 7.62×51mm.|
|FN MAG||7.62×51mm||Belgium||Standard general-purpose machine gun. To be replaced with 242 7.62×51mm chambered Minimi's|
|M2HB QCB||12.7×99mm||United States||Standard issue HMG|
|Remington 870||12-gauge||United States||In service since 2008|
|GL-1||40×46mm||Belgium||Used by regular infantry and Paracommando's mounted under FN F2000 rifles on a squad based level. Almost completely replaced by the FN40GL|
|FN40GL||40×46mm||Belgium||Used by special forces mounted under FN SCAR rifles. 507 on order to replace the F2000 on a squad based level|
|Heckler & Koch GMG||40×53mm||Germany||Mounted on the army's new Jankel FOX Rapid Reaction Vehicles|
|Anti-tank missile launchers|
|MILAN||115 mm||France||Will be replaced by Spike ATGM in the near future|
|Spike-MR||152 mm||Israel||66 new anti-tank missile systems are currently being delivered to replace the army's older MILAN ATGM.|
|Anti-tank rocket launchers|
|M72 LAW||66 mm||United States||Will be replaced by RGW 90 as the short range anti-tank weapon on a squad based level|
|RGW 90 HH||90 mm||Germany||111 short range anti-tank weapons are to be purchased in the near future.|
|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 Battalions for light fire support|
|LG1 Mark II Howitzer||105 mm||France||14 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. As of 2010, the tank units were to be disbanded or amalgamated with the Armored Infantry (two infantry companies and one tank squadron per battalion). 40 Leopard 1 tanks were still waiting to be sold; the rest were transferred to Lebanon. As of 2013, only some M113 variants (Radar, recovery, command posts and driving school vehicles) 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.
|Direct fire support|
|EBRC Jaguar||France||Reconnaissance vehicle||0 of 60 delivered||60 vehicles ordered to replace the Piranha DF30 & DF90|
|Armoured personnel carriers|
|Piranha IIIC||Switzerland||Armoured fighting vehicle||138||Will be replaced by the VBMR Griffon from 2025|
|Pandur I||Austria||Armoured personnel carrier||59||44 vehicles are currently undergoing a mid-life update to extend the service-life until 2035, the vehicle will receive a ballistic armour upgrade, mine protection, Slat armour, a 12.7mm remote weapon station and an engine upgrade.
|VBMR Griffon||France||Armoured personnel carrier||0 of 417 delivered||417 ordered to replace the Piranha and Dingo 2|
|ATF Dingo 2 MPPV||Germany||Infantry mobility vehicle||218||Will be replaced by the VBMR Griffon from 2025.
2 vehicles destroyed by IED in Mali in 2019
|Oshkosh CLV||United States||Infantry mobility vehicle||0 of 322 delivered||322 vehicles ordered to replace the Iveco LMV as the new command and liaison vehicle.
|Iveco LMV||Italy||Infantry mobility vehicle||439||Will be replaced bij the Oshkosh L-ATV. 80 vehicles will remain in service|
|Special operations regiment|
|Jankel FOX RRV||United Kingdom||Light rapid response vehicle - SOF||108||The RRV is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, for use by the Specials Forces, includes a removable armour kit to increase ballistic and mine protection. The vehicles will be fitted with a 360° ring mount which can be armed with a 12.7mm machine gun or an automatic grenade launcher.|
|Jankel LTTV||United Kingdom||Light troop transport vehicle - SOF||199||199 vehicles ordered the replace the aging Unimog JACAM and Unimog 1350l of the SFG and Paracommando units. The LTTV is based on the Unimog U5000 platform. Will feature removable mission modules that enable the vehicle to be re-rolled for operational platform versatility. Alongside a fully integrated suite of military sub-systems that includes a removable ballistic protection kit, a Roll-Over-Protection-System (ROPS), weapon mounts and communications fit.
|Soframe HRV||France||Armoured recovery vehicle||0 of 28 delivered||28 vehicles ordered. Will be armed with FN DeFNder light RWS armed with a 7.62mm machine gun
|Unimog 1.9T||Germany||Light truck||61||
|Iveco M250||Italy||Medium heavy truck||400||350 with optional removable ballistic protection kits|
|Iveco ALC 8x4||Italy||Autonomous load carrier||149||In service since 2004|
|Mercedes-Benz Actros||Germany||Transport truck||60||In service since 2002|
|Renault Kerax||France||Tow truck||27||In service since 2001|
|Scania T144||Sweden||Heavy transport||26||In service since 2002|
|Groundhog||United Kingdom||Terrain vehicle||38||In service since 2009|
|M-Gator||United States||Light utility vehicle||Unknown||Used for medical evacuation|
- MAP - NATO :
- SP artillery
In the strategical defense vision report of the Belgian government it was stated that by 2030 the Belgian land component will invest in new modern equipment such as weapons, vehicles, communication assets, body armor and more.
- "de SELLIERS de MORANVILLE". www.ars-moriendi.be. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2016-12-30.
- 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 Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
- Isby and Kamps, 1985, 59
- Entre rEssEntimEnt et ré-éducation: L’Armée belge d’Occupation et les Allemands, 1945-1952 Archived 2013-10-14 at the Wayback Machine, 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 Archived 2009-03-31 at the Wayback Machine, 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". Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Belgium selects Spike missile to replace Milan Archived 2017-06-29 at the Wayback Machine - Armyrecognition.com, January 3, 2013
- "Belgian Defense Information". European Defense Information. Armed Forces.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- "Leopard lost zijn laatste schot". 11 September 2014. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
- "België verkoopt 56 Leopardtanks". Archived from the original on 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Voertuigen". Archived from the original on 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "Belgium to Buy French Scorpion AFVs for €1.1bn". Defense Alert. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- "Piranha FUS". Belgian Defence Forces. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- "Akkoord over het strategisch plan voor Defensie 2030". 22 December 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
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