With 300 additional military personnel deployed from Monday the number of those engaged in the so-called operation “Vigilant Guardian” to reinforce security, mainly within the Brussels metro, is now involving a total of 1,800 men and women according to the Belgian defence. “The Ministry of Defence will deploy 300 more personnel from Monday April 11th, to secure the roads in Brussels because more metro stations will be opening now that the Easter holidays are over.” As ever, the military will respond conscientiously to demand, but the situation is becoming very gradually untenable. The total number of army personnel engaged is estimated at 1,800,” indicated one of the leaders of the liberal Defence union, Gilles Van Oosthuijze, in a communiqué.
The SLFP-Défense is demanding “a structural solution” to put an end to “the system of simply plugging gaps,” explaining that army personnel, within some functions, have had to literally pass on their helmets to others, who have been deployed on the streets.
Mr Van Oosthuijze says, “…too few resources have been freed up to provide sufficient equipment for such operations.” He explains that flak jackets are still having to be borrowed from the Americans, firing exercises are being cancelled due to a lack of ammunition, and that equipment is becoming unsatisfactory or badly maintained.
Of 400 million euros freed up last year by the government as part of the fight against terrorism, only 300 million euros have been put into active operation. The SLFP-Défense is literally pleading for the remaining 100 million euros to be used to better equip military personnel and provide training so that higher volumes of staff rotation may be arranged.