Military personnel seconded to Belgian embassies abroad are increasingly playing the role of intermediaries between the armament industry and the country in which they are based, confirms De Morgen. It evokes 17 interventions of this nature during last year. Belgium seconds around 20 Defence employees within its embassies globally, as to advise current diplomats upon military aspects or facilitate repatriations in particularly tense situations. However, these attachés also play a lesser known role, that of go-betweens between the Belgium armaments industry and the country where they are based.
Moreover, over three years, this role has exploded; the number of contacts of this nature has gone from two in 2012, to four in 2013, twelve in 2014 and seventeen in 2015. De Morgen lists amongst such contacts Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.
More than three quarters of these contacts were struck up for the benefit of Walloon industry, and the rest for Flemish industry, thus reflecting the historical burden-sharing of this type of industry FN Herstal is leading the charge, as well as the company BATS (Belgian Advanced Technology Systems), which specialises in domestic security.