The Belgian Defense Ministry is making steady progress in setting up a marine infantry capability. This company-size expeditionary force would be in charge of protecting port facilities and moored ships.
« Expeditionary modules for the protection of ports are one of the capability gaps in NATO which have also been identified within the EU as a “shortfall” », the Belgian MoD said last year in its « Plan STAR ». Building this capability is critical to protect ships and infrastructures against threats like combat divers, USVs and other small surface threats.
A proposed way to fill the gap is to form a naval infantry or « naval fusiliers » component of « approximately 230 military personnel, both from active and reserve personnel », Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder said on Wednesday. Depending on the need, this core capability could be completed by other protection assets like SAM/VSHORAD, EOD or CBRN units.
« This capability is still under development », the Defense Minister added, without detailing any timeline. Meanwhile, the first staff personnel passed their final tests at the end of February 2023, she said.
« The structure and organization of the naval fusiliers have not yet been definitively determined at this time », the MoD said. It is then too early to speak of a possible collaboration with partners who already deploy this capability, such as the Netherlands and France. « The possibility of synergies with partners will be explored in due course », the MoD concluded.