Belgian Land Component
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Composante terre / Landcomponent
The flag of the Belgian army since 1982
|Active||1830–2002 (as the Belgian Army)|
2002–present (as the Belgian Land Component)
|Allegiance||King of the Belgians|
|Size||12,000 military personnel and 2,000 civilian personnel|
|Part of||Belgian Armed Forces|
|Commander||Major-General Marc Thys|
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 (three active battalions, one inactive and one company in each regiment depot)
- 1 regiment of grenadiers (three active battalions, one inactive and one company in each regiment depot)
- 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 (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 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), Motorized 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 support capacity comprises one reconnaissance battalion, a civilian-military cooperation and operational communication battalion, one artillery battalion and two engineer battalions.
The service capacity comprises three communication and information systems (CIS) groups, three logistics battalions, the Military Police Group and the Military Detachment at the 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 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 firearm, being phased out in favour of 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.|
|FN Uzi||9×19mm||Israel Belgium||Made under license by FN Herstal, used as a personal defence weapon for Special Forces, Navy and Medical personnel.|
|FN P90||5.7×28 mm||Belgium||Personal defence weapon used by selected troops, including special forces.|
|Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles and Carbines|
|FN FNC||5.56×45mm||Belgium||Service rifle, To be replaced with SCAR-L.|
|FN F2000||5.56×45mm||Belgium||Used by special forces, and elsewhere in limited quantities to serve alongside the FN FNC.|
|FN SCAR-L STD||5.56×45mm||Belgium||4500 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 - 2017|
|Accuracy International Arctic Warfare||7.62×51mm||United Kingdom||Will be replaced by a combination of SCAR-H PR, AXMC and M107A1.|
|Accuracy International AX338||.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 paratroopers mounted under FN F2000 rifles on a squad based level.|
|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 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. 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.
|Piranha IIIC||Switzerland||Armoured fighting vehicle||268||Will be replaced by VBMR Griffon from 2025.
|Pandur I||Austria||Armoured personnel carrier||59||Will be replaced by EBRC Jaguar from 2025.
|ATF Dingo 2 MPPV||Germany||Infantry mobility vehicle||218||Will be replaced by VBMR Griffon from 2025.
|Iveco LMV||Italy||Infantry mobility vehicle||439|
|Jankel FOX||United Kingdom||Light Rapid Response Vehicle - SOF||108||The FOX 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.|
|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||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.
- 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.
- "Leopard lost zijn laatste schot". 11 September 2014.
- "België verkoopt 56 Leopardtanks".
- "Belgium to Buy French Scorpion AFVs for €1.1bn". Defense Alert. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- "Akkoord over het strategisch plan voor Defensie 2030". 22 December 2015.
|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 (in French)-(in Dutch)