Members of Belgium army ready to fight a few hours to defend the homeland. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)


Firing blanks? ‘Belgian army’s ammo stocks at 7 per cent of capacity,’ says MP

"We can still go to zero per cent. Then [soldiers] have to shout 'bang bang' at exercises."


The Belgian army’s stocks of ammunition are dangerously depleted, a Belgian MP has claimed.

Theo Francken of the centre-right N-VA party has presented new information showing that Belgian ammunition stocks are at just 7 per cent of the level required by NATO.

NATO requires member states to maintain a certain minimum reserve of ammunition to ensure the country can fight a defensive war as part of the pact if needed, with some now arguing that the current situation means Belgium can no longer help supply Kyiv.

“Our ammunition stocks are at 7 per cent of the NATO standard,” he told radio show De Ochtend.

“We can still go to zero per cent. Then [soldiers] have to shout ‘bang bang’ at exercises.”

“Belgium can do almost nothing when it comes to sending aid to Ukraine,” the Flemish politician said.

Referring to remarks made by retired Lieutenant General Marc Thys, Francken added that Belgian military officers would “have to throw stones” at the enemy if the country did end up getting dragged into a war.

“We don’t reach the NATO standard and everyone here sleeps on quietly,” the politician said, describing the current situation as both “painful” and “absurd”.

Francken went on to say that Belgium must work to increase its military spending and ammo procurement programmes if it does not want to hurt its NATO allies.

“If there is ever a conflict, we are not a help to our allies, but a burden,” the N-VA representative said.

“We have to totally scale up our production, something we neglected to do. We underestimated what it means to fight a war of attrition with an even-matched opponent.”

He added that work must be done to beef up Belgium’s air defence network.

The politician highlighted that his party had already suggested Beligum buy Patriot air defence missiles in the past, but that the idea was shot down by the country’s Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo.

“If real ballistic material is used, you need Patriot missiles or similar defence systems. What the Islamic regime of Iran did towards Israel, and that Iron Dome and the rest of their air defence, that is an eye-opener,” he said.

“Now people start to wonder, ‘Do we have a European shield?'” he added. “We don’t.”

“Luckily, some countries have Patriot missile systems but Belgium does not.”

The radio interview took place following a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 17, during which NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasised that member states’ domestic capacity objectives are subordinate to providing military support for Ukraine.

“Making every effort to support Ukraine is the correct course of action at this time,” Stoltenberg said, adding that munitions should be handed over even if that meant nations’ seeing their own stock levels fell short of NATO agreements.