In the latest edition of a military journal, the head of the Belgian army’s special forces, lieutenant-colonel Raphaël Bechet, has called for a “radical” streamlining of the administrative procedures in force governing small purchases of materials.
This, he says, would allow them to respond better in an emergency to certain requirements expressed by troops deployed on operations.
“To retain their overall adequacy in the face of non-state enemies taking advantage of the versatility of and ease of access to technologies offered by global e-commerce, the special forces are requesting a change in access to innovation,” he wrote in the ‘Revue militaire belge’ published by the Royal Higher Institute of Defence (IRSD).
The officer is thus drawing on lessons learned from engagements, between January 2015 and the end of November 2018, involving elements of the Belgian special forces in Iraq taking part in operation “Inherent Resolve” (OIR, executed by the US-led anti-IS coalition).
Some equipment indispensable to the carrying out of this dangerous mission (like radios enabling the encrypting of communications employing the most up-to-date standards, remote-viewing equipment, drones and the ability to direct airstrikes from the ground) have been purchased or sometimes hired as a matter of urgency.
For smaller projects, he advocates a radical streamlining of the administrative procedures currently in force, but also wants to give more initiative to subordinate levels by increasing the delegated procurement thresholds substantially. These are currently limited to 2,500 euro to make purchases locally for a lieutenant-colonel commanding a unit of several hundred men, he concluded.