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Belgian army

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Belgian army

Land Component
Composante terre / Landcomponent
2nd/4th Regiment Mounted Rifles at the 2007 Bastille Day Military Parade.
Active 1830-2002: Army
2002-present: Land Component
Country Belgium Belgium
Allegiance Belgium
Size 12.000 military personnel; 2.000 civilian personnel
Commander Major-General Eddy Testelmans

The Land Component (Dutch: Landcomponent, French: Composante terre), formerly the Belgian Land Force, is the land-based branch of the Belgian Armed Forces. The current chief of staff of the Land Component is Major-General Eddy Testelmans.

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.

Organisation 1870s

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 (ditto)
  • 1 regiment of grenadiers (ditto)
  • 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 (ditto)
  • 2 regiments of Chasseur (ditto)

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


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 - 150,000 in the field forces, 130,000 in fortress garrisons and 70,000 reserves and auxiliaries. However, this reorganisation was nowhere near complete - it was planned for completion by 1926 - 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 de Selliers de Moranville as the Chief of the General Staff.

  • 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.[1]

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.

The Belgian Army stubbornly resisted during the early days of the war, with the army - around a tenth the size of the Germany Army - holding up the German offensive for nearly a month, giving their French and British allies time to strengthen for the Marne counteroffensive later in the year.

World War II

In 1940, the Belgian Army was organized as follows. The King of Belgium was the commander in chief. There were 100,000 active duty personnel with army strength reaching 550,000 when mobilized. There were five corps, including three Active Army Corps (Infantry); Brussels, Antwerp, and Liege and later as follows:

The I Corps with the 1st, 4th, and 7th Infantry Divisions; the II Corps with the 6th, 11th, and 14th Infantry Divisions; the III Corps with the 1st Chasseurs Ardennais and the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions; the IV Corps with the 9th, 15th, and 18th Infantry Divisions; and the V and VI Corps with three divisions each. Army Corps consisted of Corps Staff, two active and several reserve Infantry Divisions, Corps Artillery Regiment of 4 battalions of two batteries with 16 artillery pieces per battalion, and a Pioneer regiment.

The infantry divisions had a division staff and three infantry regiments each of 3,000 men. each regiment had 108 light machineguns, 52 heavy machineguns, nine heavy mortars or infantry gun howitzers, and six antitank guns.

There was also a cavalry Corps of two divisions.

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. (Isby and Kamps, 1985, 59)

During the Cold War, Belgium provided the I Belgian Corps (HQ Haelen Kaserne, Junkersdorf, Lindenthal (Cologne)), consisting in the 1980s of the 1st Division and 16th Mechanised Division (HQ Nehiem, FRG), to NATO's Allied Forces Central Europe for the defence of West Germany.[2] There were also two reserve brigades (10th Mechanised Brigade, Zonhoven, and the 12th Motorised Brigade, Liege), slightly bigger than the four active brigades, which could act independently if necessary. Interior forces comprised the Para-Commando Regiment, the 31st-39th independent cadre para-commando companies, three national defence light infantry battalions (5 Ch, 3 Cy, and 4 Cy) 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.[3] However, by 1992 this plan was looking unlikely and in 1993 a single Belgian division with two brigades became part of the Eurocorps.[4]


See also List of active units of the Belgian Army

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Light Brigade
Belgian Army - brigade locations

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), Medium 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 infantry battalions are the Regiment Liberation - 5th of the Line, the Regiment Carabiniers Prince Baudouin - Grenadiers, the Regiment of Ardennes Rifles, the Regiment 12th of the Line Prince Leopold - 13th of the Line and the 1st/3rd Lancers Regiment.

The support capacity is, as its name suggests, the support arm of the Land Component and comprises one reconnaissance units, a unit for information analysis, civilian-military cooperation and operational communication unit (known as the Information Operations Group or 17 Recce, based at Heverlee), one artillery unit and two engineer battalions. The reconnaissance unit is the Bataillon de Chasseurs à Cheval. The artillery unit is the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment. The engineer battalions are the 4th and the 11th Engineer Battalion.

The service capacity comprises communication and information systems (CIS) groups, three logistics battalions, the Military Police Group and the Military Detachment 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 three CIS groups are: the 4th, the 6th and the 10th Group CIS. The logistics battalions are: the 4th, the 18th and the 29th. The Belgian Military Police Group (Groupe Police Militaire / Groep Militaire Politie - Gp MP) is a joint force made up of about 200 personnel assigned to five detachments located around the country. The Military Police Group staff is located in the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the Brussels suburb of Evere. Alpha Detachment located at Evere covers the province of Flemish Brabant and the capital, Brussels. Bravo Detachment covers Walloon Brabant, Hainaut and Namur areas and is located at Nivelles. Charlie Detachment located at Marche-en-Famenne covers the Liege and Luxembourg areas. Delta Detachment covers the Limburg and Antwerp areas and is located at Leopoldsburg. Echo Detachment located at Lombardsijde covers West and East Flanders.

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.

There are two Brigades and they are organised as follows:

Medium Brigade Light Brigade
HQ Company "8/9 Linie" HQ Company "4 Rgt. Commando"
Mechanized Inf. Rgt. "1/3 Lanciers" Light Inf. Rgt. "12 Ligne Prince Léopold- 13 Ligne"
Mechanized Inf. Rgt. "Chasseurs Ardennais" 2nd Commando Battalion
Mech. Inf. Rgt. "Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn- Grenadiers" 3rd Paratroop Battalion
Mechanized Inf. Rgt. "Bevrijding- 5 Linie" Special Forces Group



Weapon Caliber Origin Notes
Pistols and Submachine Guns
FN Hi-Power 9x19 mm  Belgium Service Pistol
Uzi 9x19 mm  Israel Built under license by FN Herstal
FN Five-seven 5.7x28 mm  Belgium Pilots and Special Forces
FN P90 5.7x28 mm  Belgium Personal defence weapon used by selected troops, including special forces
Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles and Carbines
FN FNC 5.56×45 mm  Belgium Service Rifle
FN F2000 5.56×45 mm  Belgium Used by special forces, and elsewhere in limited quantities to serve alongside the FN FNC
Sniper Rifles
Accuracy International Arctic Warfare 7.62×51 mm  United Kingdom
Machine Guns
FN Minimi 5.56x45 mm  Belgium Light machine gun
FN MAG 7.62x51 mm  Belgium General-purpose machine gun
M2HB 12.7 x 99 mm  United States Heavy Machine Gun
Anti-tank Missile Launchers
MILAN 115 mm  France ATGM
Spike-MR  Israel ATGM [5]
Anti-tank Rocket Launchers
Panzerfaust 3 110 mm  Germany Anti-tank rocket launcher.[5]
120 RT Mortar 120 mm  France
M1 Mortar 81 mm  United States
M19 Mortar 60 mm  United States Used by the ParaCommando regiment for light fire support.
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
Anti-air Missile Launchers
MISTRAL  France infrared surface-to-air missile.
  • HAFLA - small flame thrower / incendiary device.
  • LG1 Mark II - 105 mm towed howitzer (14).
  • M6A2 Mine - anti-tank mine.


The Belgian Army is currently undergoing a major re-equipment programme of most of its vehicles. The aim is to phase out all tracked vehicles in favour of wheeled vehicles. In 2010, 40 Leopard 1 tanks were still waiting to be sold, the rest were transferred to Lebanon - the tank units have been disbanded or have been amalgated with the Armoured Infantry (2 Inf Coy and 1 Tk Sqn per Bn). As of 2013, only some M113s variants (Radar, recovery,Command post and driving school vehicle) and Leopard variants (Recovery, AVLB, Pionier, driving tanks) will remain in service.

Name Origin Type Number Photo Notes
Armoured vehicles
Leopard 1A5  Germany Main Battle Tank 52[6] Being phased out.
AIV   Switzerland Armoured fighting vehicle 242
Pandur I  Austria Armoured personnel carrier 60 10 ambulance variant[7] 45 were remanufactured as Armoured Reconnaissance vehicle and are equipped with a THALES MARGOT day/ night camera including LRF; All vehicles have been installed with BMS
MPPV  Germany Infantry mobility vehicle 220 Fus, PC and ambulance variants
Unarmoured vehicles
Iveco LMV  Italy Light utility vehicle 620[8] Replacing the Volkswagen Iltis, 180 with optional removable ballistic protecion kits
Iltis  Germany Light utility vehicle 2150[9] Being phased out
M-Gator  United States Light utility vehicle For medical evacuation

In addition a number of other light utility vehicles are used.

Former Equipment


External links

  • Belgian Army website (in French)
  • Belgian Army website (in Dutch)
  • - The Special Forces Group of the belgian army
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