Belgian troops participate in the NATO Iron Wolf military exercises on October 26, 2022 in Pabrade, Lithuania. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


‘Our soldiers would have to throw stones if war broke out,’ says former Belgian military top brass


Ex-Lieutenant General Marc Thys, former Belgian Vice-Chief of Defence, has claimed Belgium is not at all ready for armed conflict, saying that within hours of an attack its troops would be rendered unable to shoot back and would have to rely on “throwing stones”.

Thys warned on Dutch TV talk show De Afspraak that the West and Belgium in particular needed to invest more heavily in their militaries.

He said: “If a war breaks out here today, the Belgian army will have to start throwing stones after only a few hours because we are out of ammunition.”

Thys claimed the Belgian army desperately needs to restock on bullets and the like because it is currently seriously short of them.

“I had an annual budget of €15 million to purchase ammunition during my eight years as the equipment manager. That has already multiplied tenfold to €150 million at this point,” the former top soldier noted.

“However, if you consider the structural requirements to be able to fight for 30 to 60 days, that amounts to €5 billion to €7 billion.”

Ludivine Dedonder, the Belgian defence minister, told Brussels Signal the budget had risen by €2 billion in the past few years in efforts to reconstruct the military.

“Defence is being fully rebuilt during this legislature, with investments in personnel, infrastructure, equipment, strong collaboration, and a vision for the Belgian industry, and much more,” she stated.

“Defence has, once again, taken its central place in society in terms of security, innovation, employment, social promotion and as a general societal contributor.”

Thys said he agreed with a Polish warning in the past couple of days that stated a Russian attack on NATO countries “could happen in three years”, much earlier than previously thought possible. He said that meant the military capacity of NATO in the East should be increased significantly.

The former Lieutenant General said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would be more confident about attacking a NATO country if he wins the war in Ukraine.

“You cannot make the mistake of looking at everything individually. We view Ukraine as an isolated fact. Russia, however, has a global view of the world order,” he said.

“China and Russia, both have a certain vision of what that world order should look like, and in their vision it is not led by Europe and the United States.”

Belgium is something of a free-riding NATO member, not having come close to meeting the domestic military spending threshold of 2 per cent of GDP in some time, despite that being the official target.

In 2020, the country spent 1.02 per cent on defence. In 2024, that will climb to 1.17 per cent, according to officials.

The current administration did promise to halt any future decline in spending and provide extra support to Ukraine.