With almost half of military officers set to retire in the coming years, the Belgian army has a staffing situation, as it is struggling to attract younger recruits, according to figures from the Ministry of Defence reported on local media on Thursday.
The figures, obtained by VRT, show that 11,400 of the military’s current officers will reach retirement age in the next five years, making up for nearly 40% of the total active forces.
To make up with the wave of departures, the army would have to start recruiting now and hope to enlist no less than 13,400 new soldiers by 2024, according to the outlet.
However, the army is struggling to keep younger soldiers in its ranks, as many already enlisted reportedly leave after a few years or even a few months.
“Outdated” or difficult working conditions and non-complaint remuneration also mean the military is no longer as attractive as it once was in the eyes of young people.
While new weaponry, ships, aircraft and other vehicles have been bought in the past years, the army risks not having enough staff to man them all.
Potential new recruits would have to receive training to operate the new acquisitions, which would cost money that the defence ministry “does not have,” according to the outlet.