Soldiers will continue patrolling Belgium’s streets until March
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Soldiers will continue patrolling Belgium’s streets until March

© Belga

Hundreds of military officers will continue to patrol the streets of the biggest cities of Belgium until March 2020, federal ministers decided on Friday.

Belgium’s council of ministers decided to extend the military’s Vigilant Guardian (OVG) mission following a recent security assessment by the counterterrorism agency OCAM/OCAD.

The analysis, carried out on 21 January, set the threat level at 2 (moderate) but “a number of potential targets were still put at threat level 3 (serious),” according to an online statement.

Citing this analysis, the ministers decided to extend the OVG mission for an additional month, covering the period from 3 February to 2 March 2020.

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As a result, a maximum of 550 soldiers will be present on Belgian streets, down from the around 1,800 originally deployed in the aftermath of the 2016 Brussels attacks, according to RTBF.

The ministers’ decision to extend the military’s mission comes as the armed forces call for a reduction of the number of soldiers patrolling the streets in order to avoid negatively impacting their training or their social lives.

Defence Minister Philippe Goffin said that he aimed to reduce the number of soldiers on the streets to 200 and set up a “rapidly deployable” contingent of around 100 soldiers in a potential agreement with federal police.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times