The numbers of army service personnel, within the Ministry of Defence, has fallen below the 25,000 mark anticipated. The figures emerge on Tuesday from an internal memo to which the state-owned Flemish TV channel has had access. The number of young service personnel who are giving up the army has, moreover, never been as high as in recent years.
In his strategic vision, an explanatory note of the Ministry of Defence’s general policy, the responsible minister, Steven Vandeput, writes that an army of 25,000 men and women should be sufficient to conclude all army missions. However, the department currently has less than 25,000 army service personnel, and this number is likely to go below 22,000 after another four years.
This decrease in staff numbers can be explained, in particular, by the wave of retirements. In the coming five years, more than 1,000 people will leave the Ministry of Defence. The number of recruitment campaigns has moreover reduced in recent years, which explains why it is currently difficult to offset the decrease in staff numbers highlighted.
As well as the question of those departing at retirement age, that of youngsters leaving the army too early crops up. They are realising, after a few months or years, that they are not cut out for a military career.
Increasing numbers of “young army members”, considered to be the backbone of the Ministry of Defence, are also withdrawing. The phenomenon itself is not new but the trend is increasing. Nearly 600 army members thus took their career in a new direction last year, compared to less than 400 two years previously.