Tightening the army purse

14th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

New economy measures for the Belgian army mean that senior servicemen will be invited to leave the force sooner.

14 April 2008

BELGIUM - Belgian defence minister Pieter De Crem has announced his new economy measures.

In 2008, to save money, senior servicemen will be invited to leave the force sooner and army buildings and material will be sold off quicker.

The defence minister is convinced the measures will not affect the army's functioning.

With 60 percent of the army budget spent on personnel, De Crem believes there is money to be saved in that department.

Therefore, the large amount of elderly servicemen that can no longer be used for action will be invited to leave the force sooner.

It is De Crem’s intention to reduce staff numbers to 37,000 by the year 2011.

"I have a few things in mind," the defence minister explains.

"I’m thinking of early retirement on a voluntary basis. Next, an unavailability arrangement, which means that people can take some time off when they want. Afterwards, they can either return to the army or leave. Thirdly, we could allow our men to take up a job at a different government department, say the department of Justice where they could go and work as a prison warder."

In spite of the economies, the defence minister wants the army to take part in more foreign missions. To do so, young servicemen will have to be recruited and De Crem is thinking of taking on low-skilled youngsters for the job.

"All similar armies have a recruitment problem but I specifically need to work on this to prevent our influx of recruits drying up."

De Crem also wants to sell off excess army material and infrastructure and hopes this will bring in an extra EUR 118 million.

[flandersenews.be / Expatica]

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