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The Order of Battle of the Belgian Armed Forces at the end of the Cold War in 1989 is given below.

Introduction[]

The Kingdom of Belgium was one of the founding nations of NATO. Nearly all Belgian Army and Belgian Air Force units were assigned to NATO's Northern Army Group and Second Allied Tactical Air Force, while most Naval Force units were assigned to Allied Command Channel. In 1989 Belgium spent $2.58 billion ($5.01 billion in 2016 USDs) on defence and fielded the following number of active troops:

  • Army: 68,700
  • Air Force: 18,800
  • Naval Force: 4,500
  • Gendarmerie: 15,900

Army[]

The Chief of the Army's general staff was tasked with the administrative management of the Belgian army, as well as with procurement, training and doctrine. In case of war most units would have come under NATO's Northern Army Group, while one battalion of the Para-Commando Regiment would have been assigned to Allied Command Europe's ACE Mobile Force-Land (AMF(L)). Depending on operational needs Allied Command Europe (ACE) would have deployed AMF(L) to whatever theater needed reinforcements, with NATO's AFNORTH command in Norway the most likely destination. Reserve units stationed in Belgium would have remained under operational control of the army's general staff in wartime.

Interior Forces[]

  • Army General Staff, Brussels
    • Para-Commando Regiment, Leuven
    • 3rd Carabineers Cyclists (Light Reserve Infantry Battalion)
    • 4th Carabineers Cyclists (Light Reserve Infantry Battalion)
    • 5th Ardennes Rifles (Light Reserve Infantry Battalion)
    • 14th Line Infantry Regiment (Light Reserve Infantry Battalion)
    • 1st Provincial Regiment Brabant (Reserve)
    • 2nd Provincial Regiment Hainault (Reserve)
    • 3rd Provincial Regiment West Flanders (Reserve) (Reserve)
    • 4th Provincial Regiment East Flanders (Reserve)
    • 5th Provincial Regiment Antwerp (Reserve)
    • 6th Provincial Regiment Limburg (Reserve)
    • 7th Provincial Regiment Liège (Reserve)
    • 8th Provincial Regiment Luxembourg (Reserve)
    • 9th Provincial Regiment Namur (Reserve)
    • 4th Light Engineer Battalion, Amay
    • 11th Light Engineer Battalion, Burcht
    • 27th Heavy Engineer Battalion (Reserve)
    • 31st Heavy Engineer Battalion (Reserve)
    • 3rd Equipment Engineer Company (Reserve)
    • 4th Equipment Engineer Company (Reserve)
    • 7th Bridging Engineer Company (Reserve)
    • 8th Bridging Engineer Company (Reserve)
    • 15th Light Aviation School Squadron (mixed helicopter squadron)

The nine provincial regiments were each assigned to one of the nine provinces of Belgium and they fielded one reserve infantry battalion and either a reserve armored or armored reconnaissance squadron. The 1st and 7th provincial regiments fielded two reserve infantry battalions. These regiments were tasked with protecting critical infrastructure in their province. The four light infantry battalions were the General Staff's mobile reserve. Engineering units were tasked with keeping the line of communication between the Port of Antwerp and the front open.

I Belgian Corps[]

Structure of the I Belgium Corps in 1989 (click to enlarge)

The I Belgian Corps was assigned to NATO's Northern Army Group and partially forward deployed to Northern Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Structure of the Belgian Armed Forces in 1989 is located in FRG and West Berlin
I (BE) Corps
16 Pantser
4 Pantserinf.
17e Blindée
10 Pantserinf.
Corps Recon
Corps Artillery
I (BE) Corps main units in Germany 1989
  • I (BE) Corps, Cologne, FRG[1][2]
    • Corps Reconnaissance Command (COMRECCE), Arolsen
    • Corps Artillery Command, Cologne
      • Staff Company, Cologne
      • 3rd Artillery Regiment, Werl, (4x Lance missile launchers)
      • 13th Artillery Regiment, Büren, (Ammunition supply)
      • 14th Anti-Air Artillery Battalion, Spich, (27x Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns)
      • 17th Horse Artillery Regiment, Altenrath, (24x M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 18th Artillery Regiment, Brasschaat, (24x M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 20th Artillery Regiment, Werl, (12x M110A2 203mm 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 35th Anti-Air Artillery Battalion, Spich, (27x Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns)
      • 73rd Special Ammunition Battery, Soest
      • 80th Observation and Surveillance Battery, Cologne
      • 95th Hawk and Lance Maintenance Battery, Werl
    • 1st Light Aviation Group, Cologne
      • Staff and Services Company, Cologne
      • 16th Light Aviation Squadron, Cologne, (10x Alouette II, 3x BN-2A)
      • 17th Light Aviation Squadron, Werl, (10x Alouette II, 3x BN-2A)
      • 18th Light Aviation Squadron, Merzbrück, (10x Alouette II, 3x BN-2A)
    • 1st Engineer Group, Cologne
      • Staff Company, Cologne
      • 1st Engineer Regiment, Cologne, (two field engineer companies, one M48AVLB armoured vehicle-launched bridge and one NBC-defense company)
      • 3rd Bridge Engineer Regiment, Cologne, (with three Mobile Floating Assault Bridge (MOFAB) companies)
      • 6th Engineer Regiment, Cologne, (two field engineer companies, one M48AVLB armoured vehicle-launched bridge and one nuclear demolition company)
      • 10th Field Engineer Regiment, Amay, Belgium (three field engineer companies)
      • 17th Field Engineer Regiment, Zwijndrecht, Belgium (three field engineer companies)
      • Topography and Geography Company, Cologne
    • 1st Signal Group, Cologne
      • Staff Company, Cologne
      • 4th Signal Battalion (Corps Headquarters), Cologne
      • 6th Signal Battalion, Lüdenscheid
      • 13th Signal Company, Krefeld, (supports Headquarters Northern Army Group)
      • 17th Signal Company, Cologne
      • 20th Signal Company, Cologne, (Air Support)
    • 4th Logistic Battalion, Cologne
    • 18th Logistic Battalion, Lüdenscheid
    • 20th Logistic Battalion, Cologne
    • 29th Logistic Battalion, Eschweiler
    • 51st Logistic Battalion, Aachen
    • 2nd Military Police Company, Arnsberg
    • 6th Military Police Company, Cologne
    • 7th Military Police Company, Lüttich
    • 1st Ambulance Company, Soest
    • 2nd Ambulance Company, Cologne
    • 3rd Ambulance Company, Cologne

1er Division d'Infanterie[]

  • 1er Division d'Infanterie, Liège, Belgium
    • Headquarters and Signal Company, Liège
    • 1ste Pantserinfanteriebrigade, Leopoldsburg, Belgium
    • 7ème Brigade d'Infanterie Blindée, Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium
      • 7th Staff Company, Marche-en-Famenne
      • 1er Régiment de Lanciers, Marche-en-Famenne, (37x Leopard 1, 7x M113, 4x Scimitar, 1x Bergepanzer 2)
      • 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais, Marche-en-Famenne, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 12e Régiment de Ligne "Prince Léopold", Spa, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 1er Régiment d'Artillerie, Bastogne, (16x M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 8th Anti-tank Company, (12x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 12x AIFV-B-MILAN)
      • 67th Engineer Company, (10x M113)
      • 7th Maintenance Company
      • 7th Supply and Transport Company
      • 7th Medical Company
    • 12ème Brigade d'Infanterie (Reserve), Liège, Belgium
      • 12th Staff Company, Liège
      • 3e Régiment de Lanciers, Altenrath, (active unit forward deployed to Germany, (37x Leopard 1, 7x M113, 4x Scimitar, 1x Bergepanzer 2)
      • 2ème Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais, Bastogne, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 3e Régiment Carabines, Liège, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 15e Régiment d'Artillerie, (16x M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 12th Reconnaissance Company
      • 12th Anti-tank Company, (12x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 12x AIFV-B-MILAN)
      • 12th Engineer Company, (10x M113)
      • 12th Maintenance Company
      • 12th Supply and Transport Company
      • 12th Medical Company

16de Pantserdivisie[]

  • 16de Pantserdivisie, Neheim-Hüsten
    • Headquarters and Signal Company, Neheim-Hüsten
    • 4de Pantserinfanteriebrigade, Soest
    • 10e Pantserinfanteriebrigade (Reserve), Limbourg, Belgium
      • 10th Staff Company, Limbourg
      • 8de Regiment Lansiers, Limbourg, (37x Leopard 1, 7x M113, 4x Scimitar, 1x Bergepanzer 2)
      • 2de Regiment Karabiniers, Limbourg, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 4de Linieregiment, Limbourg, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 74de Regiment Artillerie, (16x M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 10th Reconnaissance Company
      • 10th Anti-tank Company, (12x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 12x AIFV-B-MILAN)
      • 10th Engineer Company, (10x M113)
      • 10th Maintenance Company
      • 10th Supply and Transport Company
      • 10th Medical Company
    • 17ème Brigade Blindée, Siegen
      • 17th Staff Company, Siegen
      • 1er Régiment des Guides, Siegen, (37x Leopard 1, 7x M113, 4x Scimitar, 1x Bergepanzer 2)
      • 2e Regiment Gidsen, Altenrath, (37x Leopard 1, 7x M113, 4x Scimitar, 1x Bergepanzer 2)
      • 1ste Regiment Karabiniers Wielrijders, Spich, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 2ème Régiment de Carabiniers-cyclistes, Siegen, (42x AIFV-B-C25, 4x AIFV-B-MILAN, 3x AIFV-B-CP, 4x Scimitar, 4x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 4x M30 107mm mortars)
      • 19e Régiment d'Artillerie à Cheval, Siegen, (16x M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers)
      • 2nd Anti-tank Company, Siegen, (12x Kanonenjagdpanzer, 12x AIFV-B-MILAN)
      • 15th Engineer Company, Cologne, (10x M113)
      • 17th Maintenance Company, Siegen
      • 17th Supply and Transport Company, Siegen
      • 17th Medical Company, Siegen

Other units[]

The following two air-defense units of the Belgian Army were assigned permanently to NATO's Second Allied Tactical Air Force

  • Second Allied Tactical Air Force
    • 43rd Artilleriebataljon, Brakel
      • A/43rd Company, Beverungen with 6× MIM-23 Hawk stations
      • B/43rd Company, Höxter with 6× Hawk launch stations
      • C/43rd Company, Brakel with 6× Hawk launch stations
      • D/43rd Company, Bad Driburg 6× Hawk launch stations
    • 62nd Artilleriebataljon, Essentho
      • A/62nd Company, Korbach with 6× MIM-23 Hawk stations
      • B/62nd Company, Wolfhagen with 6× Hawk launch stations
      • C/62nd Company, Essentho with 6× Hawk launch stations
      • D/62nd Company, Diemelstadt 6× Hawk launch stations

Air Force[]

A Mirage 5BR of 42nd Squadron takes off in 1989

A Alpha Jet taking off in 1985

The Chief of the Air Force's general staff was tasked with the administrative management of the Belgian air force, as well as with procurement, training and doctrine. In case of war most units would have come under NATO's Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2 ATAF).


note 1: Nuclear sharing unit capable of delivering tactical nuclear weapons stored and maintained by the United States Air Force in Europe's 7361st Munitions Support Squadron.

Koksijde Air Base and the US managed Chièvres Air Base were designated as Collocated Operating Bases to be used by US Air Force reinforcements in case of crisis or war. Additionally the United States Air Force in Europe's 485th Tactical Missile Wing with nuclear capable BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missiles was based at Florennes Air Base.[4]

Naval Force[]

The Chief of the Naval Force's staff was tasked with the administrative management of the Belgian navy, as well as with procurement, training and doctrine. In case of war the entire combat fleet would have come under NATO's Benelux Sub-Area Channel Command (BENECHAN), a joint Dutch-Belgian command in Den Helder under Allied Command Channel (ACCHAN). ACCHAN was tasked with the defense of the sea areas, including and especially allied shipping, around the English Channel and BENECHAN was one of its three naval sub-commands. BENECHAN's area of operation comprised a large portion of the southern part of the North Sea and would command the entire Belgian Naval Force as well as the Home Fleet of the Royal Netherlands Navy.[5]

While the commanding officer of BENECHAN was always the commanding admiral of the larger and more powerful Netherlands Home Fleet, Belgium's Commander Naval Operations served as the BENECHAN's Chief of Staff. The combined Dutch and Belgian staff at Den Helder in the Netherlands was tasked with ensuring that the approach, coastal, and entrance channels to Belgian and Netherlands' ports were always open for allied shipping. As ACCHAN's other two sub-commands PLYMCHAN (Plymouth Sub-Area Channel Command) and NORECHAN (The Nore Sub-Area Channel Command) defended the direct approaches to the Belgian and Dutch coast via the English channel and the North Sea and as BALTAP's German-Danish Allied Naval Forces Baltic Approaches Command (COMNAVBALTAP) kept the Soviet Baltic Fleet bottled up in the Baltic Sea, the main risk for allied shipping in the BENECHAN area of operations were air and submarine dropped naval mines.

Therefore, the Belgian Naval Force fielded a large number of minesweepers and minehunters. As American reinforcements, crucial to defeat a Soviet advance towards the Rhine, would have disembarked mainly in the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, the Belgians fielded 10 inshore minesweeper to keep the Western Scheldt free of naval mines. To increase interoperability and to have a quickly deployable force ACCHAN included the Standing Naval Force Channel (STANAVFORCHAN), which consisted of seven to nine mine countermeasure vessels from the Royal Navy, German Navy, Royal Netherlands Navy and Belgian Naval Force.

Below follows a list of all ships of the Naval Force at the beginning of 1989 grouped by their home ports:[6][7]

  • Zeebrugge Naval Base, main base and home of the Naval Force's frigates, minehunters, and command ships:
    • Frigate Squadron 181 with the Wielingen-class anti-submarine frigates:
    • Mine Countermeasures Flotilla 22
      • A960 Godetia, mine countermeasures support and command ship
      • A961 Zinnia, mine countermeasures support and command ship
      • Ocean Minesweeper Squadron 191 with the Agile-class ocean minesweepers:
        • M902 Van Haverbeke
        • M903 Dufour
        • M904 DeBrouwer
        • M906 Breydel
        • M908 Truffaut
        • M909 Bovesse
    • A950 Valcke, ocean going tug for fishery protection and anti-oil pollution patrol
    • A951 Hommel, harbor tug
    • A952 Wesp, coastal tug
    • A953 Bij, fire tug
    • A954 Zeemeeuw, ocean going tug for fishery protection and anti-oil pollution patrol
    • A956 Krekel, fire tug
    • A958 Zenobe Gramme, school ship
    • A959 Mier, coastal tug
    • A962 Belgica, research vessel
    • A996 Albatros, harbor tug
    • A997 Spin, harbor tug
    • A998 Ekster, fire tug
  • Ostend Naval Base, home of the coastal minesweepers, mine warfare school, diving school, and the navy's logistic and maintenance center:
    • Coastal Minesweeper Squadron 124 (part of Mine Countermeasures Flotilla 22) with the Adjutant-class coastal minesweepers:
      • M928 Stavelot
      • M930 Rochefort
      • M932 Nieuwpoort
      • M933 Koksijde
      • M934 Verviers, modified as minehunter
      • M935 Veurne, modified as minehunter, but employed as hydrographic research ship
    • Coastal Minehunter Squadron (part of Mine Countermeasures Flotilla 22) with the Tripartite-class coastal minehunters:
    • A963 Spa, ammunition transport ship, former coastal minesweeper M927
    • A964 Heist, degaussing ship for frigates, former coastal minesweeper M929
  • Antwerp Naval Base, home of the inshore minesweepers operating on the Western Scheldt:
    • P902 Libération, river patrol boat (last patrol boat of the seven Libération-class boats of the disbanded River Patrol Squadron 217)
    • Inshore Minesweeper Squadron 218, training, research and survey squadron with the Herstal-class inshore minesweepers:
      • M472 Kortrijk, modified for fishery protection and anti-oil pollution patrol in 1972, withdrawn from service in August 1, 1989
      • M478 Herstal, modified for fishery protection and anti-oil pollution patrol in 1972
      • M479 Huy
      • M480 Seraing
      • M485 Andenne
    • Inshore Minesweeper Squadron 219 (part of Mine Countermeasures Flotilla 22) with the Herstal-class inshore minesweepers:
      • M475 Tongeren
      • M476 Merksen
      • M482 Vise
      • M483 Ougree
      • M484 Dinant

Gendarmerie[]

Gendarmerie

References[]

  1. https://archive.today/20160414122907/http://www.museum-bsd.de/grafiken/stationierung_deutschland.gif Stiftung Museum der Belgischen Streitkräfte in Deutschland Graphic
  2. Alter, Fritz. "BSD/FBA 89". http://www.relikte.com/_basis/docs/bsd-fba-1.pdf. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  3. Alter, Fritz. "Gliederung und Stationierung der belgischen Streitkräfte in Deutschland im Jahre 1989". http://www.relikte.com/_basis/docs/bsd-fba-1.pdf. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  4. Dragoner, O. W.. "United States Air Force 1989". 
  5. Mooney, Thomas (March 1979) (in English). The Belgian Navy (Thesis). Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School. https://archive.org/stream/belgiannavy00moon/belgiannavy00moon_djvu.txt. 
  6. http://www.marine-mra-klm.be/flotte_force_navale___marine_119.htm Royal Museum of Army and Military History: De la Force Navale à la Marine
  7. Mooney, Thomas (March 1979) (in English). The Belgian Navy (Thesis). Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School. https://archive.org/stream/belgiannavy00moon/belgiannavy00moon_djvu.txt. 

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