New military hardware but nobody to operate it? Author: CDC

Belga
Wed 15/02/2017 - 10:34 CDC The Belgian government has ambitious plans to invest in defence: frigates, fighter-jets and armoured vehicles are all being snapped up, but one of the military unions is sounding the alarm and claims that as a result of recent reforms the defence ministry won't have the cash to pay for staff to man the new equipment.

The Belgian government is poised to splash out on new equipment to the tune of 9 billion euros, but the military trades union ACMP claims that as a result of pension reforms in future Belgium won't possess enough young recruits to man all this high-tech equipment. The union's Roger Housen says the Belgian defence minister's plans for the future of our armed forces are "unfeasible".

"Even if we get the equipment, we won't have enough staff or the staff we have will be too old. The consequence will be that operational capacity dwindles in front of our eyes."

As a result of the pension reforms members of the armed forces will have to work up to 16 years more. The pay check will balloon as a result and we won't be able to hire young recruits.

Roger Housen: "The cost of salaries will rise by 3 billion in only 11 years. That cash will have to come from somewhere, e.g. a decrease in the number of people on the payroll or fewer orders, i.e. the 9.4 billion planned won't be spent!"

The union wants the defence minister to revisit the pension reforms to ensure that Belgium continues to possess an armed forces with enough soldiers who are both physically and mentally fit."

The ACMP warns that the Belgian armed forces are well on the way to becoming "an army of old men". It claims that despite the investments operational capacity will fall by a quarter.