Claudine Pôlet
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Remodeling the Belgian army in function of NATO wars
Foto: Julo on flickr

Remodeling the Belgian army in function of NATO wars

The Belgian chief of staff, M. Delcour, resigned on March 29 not just because of some row over appointments or linguistic disputes. The discussion with his minister of defense, Pieter De Crem, dealt with the new role of the Belgian army within NATO. The New Strategic Concept of Lisbon 2010 foresees a profound transformation of the military in all of the allied countries. The final goal is to build a sophisticated and centralized strike force under NATO command, capable of waging war in all corners of the world. As minister De Crem stated in an interview: “to deploy permanently some 1000 soldiers on the field... that is what is important... on the other hand it is not excluded that Belgium will be asked for an other operation like the kind we realized in Libya..”. The rest of the ground troops can be cut to much lower numbers in order to safe money and to focus the budget on the development of 'nuclei of excellence'.

The new line within NATO of smart defense asks for more efficient air and naval forces and for eliminating double use: that is why we see the 'pooling and sharing' (almost a fusion) of the Belgian navy with the Dutch forces, an enforced cooperation between the Belgian and the German air forces, and grouped purchases of air craft that will replace F16 together with Denmark and the Netherlands, etc. This all comes down to a loss of sovereignty of the country over its defense policy, not to build a mythic independent European Union, but to reinforce NATO. This should remind us of the Belgian war vessels patrolling before the coasts of Venezuela in support of the Dutch navy who felt attacked by president Chavez's claims over islands that “belong to Holland”°. Belgian F16s participated in combat operations in Afghanistan next to German pilots, despite the famous 'rules of engagement' of our minister of defense that should prohibit this kind of activity. And what else that we do not know because the information is covered by the blanket of “defense secret” for all too curious members of parliament.The coming NATO summit in Chicago will certainly deal with this harmonization of the NATO armies, and with the means that are to be put forward in Afghanistan to make sure the announced retreat of troops is compensated by a new partnership between NATO and Afghanistan. Chicago will also discuss about missile defense, about its nuclear strategy, and how to make the “new threats more tangible and to line up the “operations the kind we realized in Libya”. Belgian parliament will discuss these items in its session of may 9, just some days before the summit. A real public debate on such matters will only take place if the peace movement can grow and bring it under the general attention.

Claudine Pôlet

Comité Surveillance Otan

 www.cso.org

° NYT July 11, 2010. American planes in Curaçao have led to tension between Curaçao and President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who voiced concerns about an American military outpost just 40 miles from Venezuela’s coast. Curaçao is also home to a huge refinery that turns Venezuelan oil into gasoline. Chafing at the American military outpost just 40 miles from Venezuela's coast, President Hugo Chavez is testing Curaçao’s nerves by repeatedly claiming that the Dutch government, which oversees defense issues here, is letting Washington use Curaçao as a base for planning a possible attack on Venezuela.

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