Belgium’s army has deployed members of its new “trained reserve” for the first time in the streets of Brussels to support the Federal Police under an initiative dubbed Operation Vigilant Guardian (OVG). For now the operation is still a pilot project involving the Prince Leopold 12th – Spa 13th Line Battalion, but it should eventually be extended, military officials said.
A section of eight members of the battalion – three in active service and five reservists including a female first sergeant who leads the section –demonstrated this integration on Tuesday morning during a patrol in and around the Gare du Midi in Brussels. Sergeant Deborah (surname withheld for security reasons) gave orders to her seven colleagues, who sometimes marched in the main hall of the train station and sometimes stood at the bottom of the escalators leading to the platform, always highly visible to travelers and the public.
For the reservists, this support that they are giving to their colleagues in active duty lasts only three days, the battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ludovic Hermans, explained.
The “strategic vision” outlining the future shape of the military by 2030, approved by the Government in June 2016, envisages increasing use of a “reactivated” reservists to “occasionally provide additional capacity in times of sustained operational engagement”.
The Land Component has thus moved to put together an operational reserve of five companies of light infantry (about five times 120 persons), each of them attached to a manoeuvre batallion, and providing “occasional support to ensure internal security”.