Socialists call to reduce military by half
13 February 2006, BRUSSELS — The Flemish Socialist SP.A has proposed reducing the Belgian army by half in the next decade and allocating the money saved to development aid.
13 February 2006
BRUSSELS — The Flemish Socialist SP.A has proposed reducing the Belgian army by half in the next decade and allocating the money saved to development aid.
SP.A chairman Johan Vande Lanotte said the nation's army should be absorbed by a European defence force. He said the nation's 40,000 troops should be reduced to just 20,000.
Vande Lanotte's proposal was included in a draft manifesto for the Flemish party in the lead-up to a pivotal conference in March, broadcaster VRT reported on Monday.
Local party branches will discuss the manifesto in coming weeks and the conference will be held on 18 March.
Vande Lanotte said national armies have become obsolete in a European context, adding that NATO missions should be organised at a European level.
Pointing out the Belgian military excels in logistical tasks, mine clearing and the deployment of special forces, he also said the army should specialise in these fields.
Reducing the nation's military by 50 percent could lead to a 40 percent budget cut. The overseas development budget could thus be increased by about EUR 1 billion.
"That is much more important than NATO commitments," Vande Lanotte said.
Due to an expected large number of retirees in coming years, the Socialist leader said his plan would not lead to forced lay-offs.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news