This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Belgian Land Component" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Land Component
Landkomponent (Dutch)
Composante terre (French)
Founded1830; 194 years ago (1830)
Country Belgium
TypeArmy
RoleLand warfare
SizeCa. 10,000 active personnel[1]
2,120 reservists
Part of Belgian Armed Forces
Commanders
CommanderMajor-General Jean-Pol Baugnée
Insignia
Identification
symbol

The Land Component (Dutch: Landcomponent, French: Composante terre), historically and commonly still referred to as the Belgian Army (Dutch: Landmacht, French: Armée Belge), 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 Jean-Pol Baugnée.

Dating back to Belgium's establishment in 1830, the Land Component is the oldest service branch of the Belgian Armed Forces, and is also the largest of the four branches, with approximately 10,000 active military personnel and over 2,000 reservists as of 2022.

History

See also: Belgian Armed Forces § History

Early history

The Belgian Army was established in 1830 after Belgium gained independence from the Netherlands after the Belgian Revolution. It was initially expected that as neutral buffer state with borders guaranteed by France, Britain, and Prussia, Belgium could avoid the need for an expensive permanent military, relying instead on the part-time militia of the existing Garde Civique (Civil Guard); however, the need of a regular full-time army was soon acknowledged, and the Belgian Army was promptly established.

A detachment of the 2nd/4th Regiment Mounted Rifles at the 2007 Bastille Day Military Parade
A regiment of grenadiers on maneuvers in 1894
King Albert II with members of the armed forces

According to the Law of 16 August 1873, the Belgian Army was to consist of:[citation needed]

Infantry

Note: A battalion (864 men) consists of four companies of 216 men

Cavalry

Note: A squadron had approximately 130 horses

Artillery

Note: A battery has 6 guns

Engineering

Train

First World War

Further information: Belgian Army order of battle (1914)

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.[2]

In addition, there were garrisons at Antwerp, Liège and Namur, each placed under the command of the local divisional commander.[3]

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.

Second World War

Main articles: Belgian Army 1940, Battle of Belgium, and Battle of France

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 Liège, and two divisions of partially-mechanized cavalry Corps at Brussels and the Ardenne. The Corps was as follows:

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 division 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 and 1945, 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.[4] 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.[5]

Korean War

Main article: Belgian Volunteer Corps for Korea

During the Korean War, Belgium provided combat troops for South Korea and became part of the United Nations Forces.

Cold War

See also: NORTHAG wartime structure in 1989 § I Belgian Corps

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.[6] 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-cyclists, and 4th Carabiniers-cyclists), 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.[7] However, by 1992 this plan was looking unlikely, and in 1993 a single Belgian division with two brigades became part of the Eurocorps.[8][9]

Structure

Structure of the Land Component after the 2018 reform

Main article: Structure of the Belgian Armed Forces § Land Component

See also: List of active units of the Belgian Army

Belgian Land Component is located in Belgium
Belgian Army - brigade locations

The Land Component is organised as 1 Brigade and 1 Special Operations Regiment. In total, the Land Component consists of almost 10,000 active military personnel (as of 2019). After the 2018 reforms, the ground forces are organised as follows:

Belgian Army Staff (the HQ of the Land Component) It oversees and plans all activities and operations of the land component.

The service capacity comprises the following units:

Some of the regiments in the Land Component, such as the 12/13th Battalion of the Line, have names consisting of multiple elements. This is the result of a series of amalgamations that took place over the years. The 12/13th Battalion 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.

Ranks

Main article: Belgian military ranks

Officer ranks

The rank insignia of commissioned officers.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
 Belgian Land Component[10]
Generaal Luitenant-generaal Generaal-majoor Brigadegeneraal Kolonel Luitenant-kolonel Majoor Kapitein-commandant Kapitein Luitenant Onderluitenant
Général Lieutenant général Général-major Général de Brigade Colonel Lieutenant-colonel Major Capitaine-commandant Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-lieutenant
General Generalleutnant Generalmajor Brigadegeneral Oberst Oberstleutnant Major Stabshauptmann Hauptmann Leutnant Unterleutnant

Other ranks

The rank insignia of non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Belgian Land Component[10]
Adjudant-majoor Adjudant-chef Adjudant 1ste sergeant-majoor 1ste sergeant-chef 1ste sergeant Sergeant 1ste korporaal-chef Korporaal-chef Korporaal 1ste soldaat Soldaat
Adjudant-major Adjudant-chef Adjudant 1er sergeant-major 1er sergeant-chef 1er sergeant Sergeant 1er caporal-chef Caporal-chef Caporal 1er soldat Soldat
Majoradjutant Chefadjudant Adjudant 1er Sergeant major 1er Sergeant chef 1er Sergeant Sergeant 1er Korporal chef Korporal chef Korporal 1er soldat Soldat

Equipment

Main article: List of equipment of the Belgian Land Component

The Belgian Army went through a major re-equipment programme for most of its vehicles. The aim was 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). Forty Leopard 1 tanks were to be sold. 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 were 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.[11][12] In 2008 a sale of 43 Leopard 1A5(BE) to Lebanon was concluded, but as of 2018 was not finalized due to "the absence of licensing for export from Germany."[13][14][15]

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.[16]

References

  1. ^ "Vaststelling van het legercontingent voor het jaar 2022" [Establishment of the army contingent for the year 2022] (in Dutch).
  2. ^ "de SELLIERS de MORANVILLE". www.ars-moriendi.be. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  3. ^ "George Nafziger's order of battle for the Belgian Army in 1914" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2015.
  4. ^ Isby and Kamps, 1985, 59
  5. ^ "Entre ressentiment et ré-éducation: L'Armée belge d'Occupation et les Allemands, 1945-1952" [Between resentment and re-education: The Belgian Army of Occupation and the Germans, 1945-1952] (PDF) (in French). 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ "Cold War Battle Orders Make Way for a New NATO Era". Jane's Defence Weekly. 8 June 1991. p. 961.
  8. ^ "Decision Soon on Division". Jane's Defence Weekly. 20 March 1993.
  9. ^ "Belgian Division Joins Eurocorps". Jane's Defence Weekly. 23 October 1993.
  10. ^ a b "IPR Landcomponent". mil.be (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 17 February 2005. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Leopard lost zijn laatste schot". 11 September 2014. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  12. ^ "België verkoopt 56 Leopardtanks" [Belgium sells 56 Leopard tanks] (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  13. ^ "Lebanon still waiting for its Leopard tanks purchased from Belgium".
  14. ^ "Belgium Ditched Its Tanks—And Never Got Them Back". Forbes. Archived from the original on 8 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Canada Has Given Up Trying To Find A Good Home For Its Retired Leopard Tanks". The Drive.
  16. ^ "Akkoord over het strategisch plan voor Defensie 2030" [Agreement on the strategic plan for Defense 2030] (in Dutch). 22 December 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.