The Land Component (Dutch: Landcomponent, French: Composante terre) 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 Pierre Gérard.
Composante terre (French)
|Allegiance||King of the Belgians|
|Size||10,500 active personnel|
|Part of||Belgian Armed Forces|
|Commander||Major-General Pierre Gérard|
Ranks in use by the Belgian Army are listed at Belgian military ranks.
According to the Law of 16 August 1873, the army was to consist of:
Note: a battalion (864 men) consists of four companies of 216 men
Note: a squadron had approximately 130 horses
Note: A battery has 6 guns
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.
In addition, there were garrisons at Antwerp, Liège and Namur, each placed under the command of the local divisional commander.
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.
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 1940–45, 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. 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.
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. 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. However, by 1992 this plan was looking unlikely and in 1993 a single Belgian division with two brigades became part of the Eurocorps.
The Land Component is organised as 1 Brigade and 1 Special Operations Regiment. In total, the Land Component consists of almost 10,000 military personnel (as of 2019). After the 2018 reforms, the ground forces are organised as follows:
COMPONSLAND (the HQ of the Land Component) It oversees and plans all activities and operations of the land component.
The service capacity comprises the Military Police Group, the Explosive Removal and Destruction Service (known as DOVO in Dutch and SEDEE in French, the Movement Control Group, the information operations group and the training centres and camps. 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 that 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.
|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
|Général||Lieutenant général||Général-major||Général de Brigade||Colonel||Lieutenant-colonel||Major||Capitaine-commandant||Capitaine||Lieutenant||Sous-lieutenant||Aspirant|
| Belgian Land Component
|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|
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. 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."
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.
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