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Operation FORWARD LAND FORCES Belgian Contingent

Belgian personnel deploying on Operation FORWARD LAND FORCES [© Belgian MoD]

After an advance group last week, the bulk of the Belgian detachment of Operation FORWARD LAND FORCES (FLF) has deployed to Cincu in Romania.

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Press Release, Brussels, 04 July 2023: [auto-translated] After a first group last week, the bulk of the Belgian detachment of the Forward Land Forces (FLF) operation left this morning, 04 July, for Cincu in Romania. Our troops will work under the leadership of the French to maintain security on NATO’s eastern border.

This deployment of Belgian military personnel in Romania follows the second Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Belgian detachment, the Combined Arms Tactical Sub Group (CATSG), consists of approximately 300 military personnel. This includes an infantry unit of 130 troops from Bataillon Libération – 5e de Ligne (Bvr/5 Li) from Leopoldsburg, equipped with Piranha combat vehicles, among other things. They are reinforced by specialists from the 11 Engineering Battalion, 10 Information & Communication Group, the Artillery Battalion, 23 Medical Battalion and a reconnaissance platoon from Luxembourg. 18 Logistics Battalion provides the logistical support.

Belgian personnel deploying on Operation FORWARD LAND FORCES [© Belgian MoD]

Platoon commander Thibaud leaves for the first time on a foreign mission. “After my studies at the KMS, I opted for Battalion Bvr/5 Li, mainly because of the Piranha vehicles. Our battalion uses these vehicles more in a tactical setting and that appealed to me.”

Together with his 40-strong platoon, Thibaud went through several phases to prepare for this mission. “The last time we practised in Marche-en-Famenne where we had to prove we were ready,” he says. “The last few weeks at home I was really hungry, ready to leave. I’m really looking forward to it, glad I’m here to leave.”

Library image of Belgian Piranha armoured infantry fighting vehicles operationally deployed in Estonia on the NATO eFP mission [© Bob Morrison]

Staff of the medical component is also supporting the FLF operation. Nurse Wout and physiotherapist Shana shine their light on the medical side of their commitment. They are leaving on their third and second overseas operations respectively. “I work in the Role 1 post within the camp, the real life medical support, but also during the exercises that the troops perform there,” says Wout. A Role 1 is responsible for first aid in the field, between the troops.

“The intention is for Belgium to be part of a multinational Role 1 medical facility,” Shana adds. “It is the intention that this Role 1 mainly supports the Belgian-Luxembourg detachment. As a physiotherapist myself, I operate at the battle group level, the bigger picture,” she says. “In principle, the nurses do not come into contact with, for example, French soldiers. Me, because I work at the battle group level, I do.”

Wout now feels more prepared than ever to leave for surgery. “We trained with the battalion several times to be attuned to each other as best as possible.” The Role 1 personnel participated in exercises with the Battalion Bvr/5 Li in order to become qualified to go on operations. “We have been preparing to leave for almost a year now. We really feel ready,” he concludes.

Library image of a Luxembourg Army reconnaissance team deployed with the NATO Response Force
[© Bob Morrison]

Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder also encouraged the departing soldiers. “In 2022, NATO was alarmed by Russia’s war in Ukraine and responded by deploying its forces along the eastern border. Defence has shown itself reliable from the start by responding to that call from our allies. Today, a detachment of men and women is preparing to leave for several months to guard the security of our continent together with our allies. I would like to thank all members of this detachment for their efforts. You should be proud of what you do and represent. Your commitment in the field shows courage and professionalism, but is also a source of inspiration for all the new recruits of our department. We are proud of you and your service.”

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