Blue CHOD Blues

 

 

Air Force General August Van Daele was succeeded by Army General Charles-Henri Delcour as Belgian Chief of Defence (CHOD) on April 2nd, 2009. An opportunity to review his main accomplishments.

Diamond Formaton

A diamond formation of 9 Kleine Brogel based Lockheed F-16Am fighters during the hand-over ceremony.

 

General August Van Daele was CHOD for little over six years, from December 6th, 2002, till April 2nd, 2009. During that period, he almost tripled the number of personnel deployed abroad in support of national and international (EU, NATO and UN) missions to safeguard peace, the core business of the Belgian Defence next to support to the Nation in case of calamities. At the end of his mandate, more than 1,450 servicemen were deployed to four main theatres of operations:

 

1.     Afghanistan (International Security Assistance Force, ISAF)

-         286 personnel in Kabul to secure Kabul International Airport (KAIA), a mission being fulfilled since February 2003;

-         99 personnel, since September 2008 at Kandahar Airfield under Operation Guardian Falcon (OGF), providing Close Air Support (CAS) to ISAF and ANA (Afghan National Army) troops;

-         25 personnel in Kunduz in support of the local Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), mainly in the field of Mine Clearance and Improvised Explosive Devices Disposal (IEDD), a mission that started in March 2004;

-         69 personnel of an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team, OMLT) in Kunduz, who will start training ANA troops of the Regional Command Nord (RC-N) at full strength from mid-April 2009 onwards.

 

2.     Chad (European Forces in Chad/Central African Republic, EUFOR Chad/CAR)

Between 50 and 70 Special Forces and Field Accommodation personnel supported the EUFOR mission from mid-March 2008 till mid-March 2009.

 

3.     Kosovo (Kosovo Force, KFOR)

256 personnel at Mitrovica, supporting KFOR since April 1999 by their military presence and their permanent close contact with the civilian population.

 

4.     Lebanon (United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL)

-         255 personnel in Tibnin since October 2006 for Medical Support, Mine Clearance and Construction Engineering;

-         165 crewmembers aboard the frigate Leopold I, from late August till early December 2008 in support of Maritime Task Force 448, from March 1st till May 31st leading it, in order to prevent illegal weapons trafficking to Lebanon.

 

To allow his men and women to accomplish these missions efficiently and safely, the CHOD initiated a number of programmes to replace the Land Component’s obsolete equipment with state-of-the art armoured vehicles, means of communications, individual protective gear, etc. The Naval Component received new frigates, the Air Component’s aircraft were upgraded to the latest standards and the internationally renowned burns unit of the Medical Component will soon have new infrastructure at its disposal.

 

In order to reach an acceptable investment level, the CHOD rigorously followed the Strategic Defence Plan of 2000 to adjust an unbalanced 62/28/10% budget repartition for personnel, operations and investment to a more acceptable 50/25/25 ratio by 2015. This effort enabled the Belgian Defence to acquire the minimal, but sufficient quantities of equipment necessary to adequately fulfil all its mission.

 

On the occasion of his inauguration as new CHOD, General Charles-Henri Delcour declared that he will continue the ongoing transformation of the Armed Forces without compromising their readiness to fulfil their national and international obligations.

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 Two CHOD's

Minister of Defence, Pieter De Crem, flanked by the parting CHOD, General August Van Daele (right) and the newly inaugurated CHOD, General Charles-Henri Delcour (left).

 

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 Text and pictures by

© Jos Schoofs  (April 2009)

Last updated 17/04/09 12:42   Daniel Brackx

brackda@gmail.com