Army missions incomplete as soldiers assigned to security

Summary

An internal report leaked to De Morgen newspaper says that 25% of international missions are not being carried out by soldiers because they are too busy filling in for police and prison staff

Security support

The Belgian army is unable to fulfil one in four of its overseas missions because personnel are occupied with tasks at home such as support for police and standing in for striking prison staff, according to a leaked internal report.

In normal circumstances, the military would be committed to 44 overseas missions, including peace-keeping and military exercises with Nato forces. However, 11 of those missions remain unfulfilled because more than 1,600 are busy with other jobs. Most of them are providing security support against terrorism, while others are seconded to security at nuclear sites and standing in for prison officers.

The army counts some 18,300 soldiers. At any given time, one-third of them can be discounted because of sickness, leave, holidays and training.

“I have the impression we’re being used to break the right to strike of prison officers and police,” union representative Edwin Lauwereins told De Morgen, which received the leaked report. “Defence forces cannot be used to resolve social disputes.”

Photo: Ben Cawthra/Eyevine/BELGA