Military ambitions despite funding concerns

12th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 December 2005, BRUSSELS — The Cabinet has approved the purchase of 10 multifunctional support helicopters and the military's international peacekeeping operations in 2006.

12 December 2005

BRUSSELS — The Cabinet has approved the purchase of 10 multifunctional support helicopters and the military's international peacekeeping operations in 2006. 

In Afghanistan, the mission around the Kabul airport will continue and Belgium will also boost its contribution to the provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) in Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Belgium's military will initially remain active in three regions: Kosovo, Afghanistan and Africa, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Friday.

However, the military contribution to the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo will be replaced with liaison and monitoring teams to free up resources for operations elsewhere. 

The plan is part of a more ambitious approach the federal government is taking to international operations despite funding concerns raised by Defence Minister André Flahaut last week.

Belgium might therefore send helicopters to Bosnia-Herzegovina, extra soldiers to Afghanistan, a frigate to Africa, a frigate and helicopter to the Caribbean Sea, a minesweeper to the Baltic Sea or F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania.

The possibilities were outlined in the government's 2006 military plans discussed at Friday's weekly cabinet meeting.

However, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt also said the focus in Afghanistan next year will remain Kabul and participation in the provincial reconstruction the teams in the North zone, where Belgium is already operational with Germany.

The government confirmed it will send an extra 20-30 soldiers depending on agreements entered into with Germany.

From August 2006, Belgium might also participate in a multinational tactical fighting unit of the 'Regional Area Capital' by dispatching a mobile unit and linking up with the French-Turkish command.

Starting in September, the nation might dispatch a C-130 to assist in logistical transports of the PRTs.

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet also gave approval on Friday to the purchase of 10 multifunctional support helicopters.

The NH90 is a European twin-engine transport helicopter developed by France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. It can carry 14 soldiers and two stretchers or a vehicle and three soldiers.

Prime Minister Verhofstadt said the purchase completes the army's modernisation.

The helicopters are to replace the Sea Kings of the air force and the navy's Alouettes. Both types are based at Koksijde.

The new helicopters will be used in search and rescue operations, for naval missions and transports operations.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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