July 1 2021
Special Edition Interview with the Belgian Chief of Defence Hon. Admiral Michel Hofman (Part-2)
Interview with the Belgian Chief of Defence Hon. Admiral Michel Hofman, conducted by Editor in Chief
Q: 4 In late March this year NATO announced that Belgian F-16s are ready for NATO Response Force. Could you discuss about this mission and the role that Belgium is holding in it.
Indeed, at the end March 2021, NATO completed a tactical evaluation of the Belgian air combat capability, flying F-16. This process started in 2019 but due to COVID-19, we experienced some inevitable delays.
NATO’s Readiness Forces are one of the cornerstones in the Alliance’s Deterrence and Security Policy and thus an important pillar of collective defence, one of NATO’s core tasks. By meeting NATO’s evaluation standards, we demonstrated our Air Force’s ability to operate at par with our Allies, supporting the Alliance, contributing to its readiness forces and other engagements such as Baltic Air Policing.
Apart from our Air Force, Belgium also provides maritime capabilities for NATO’s Standing Naval Forces and Land Forces for NRF and engagements such as enhanced Forward Presence. Such contributions are a clear sign of our willingness to take on our responsibility and share the burden regarding collective defence. It is a testimony of our commitment to the Alliance, our solidarity with our Allies and our reliability.
In order to remain relevant, keeping up with technological evolutions, Belgium invested in the replacement of its major combat platforms such as our air combat capability. As from 2023, the F-16 fleet will transition to F-35 over a period of five years. The same process is planned for regarding the replacement of our land combat vehicles, air transport capability, frigates and mine hunting vessels, albeit each within its own time frame. Although these transitions are very challenging, we will of course respect our operational commitments to NATO and our level of readiness.
Q: 5 Belgium and the United States enjoy very special relations in the diplomatic field, in trade cooperation, as well as in defence and security partnership. As decades of military joint training and exercises, joint forces in the overseas operations are all real presentations that accentuate this fact. Would you please comment on U.S-Belgian Armed Forces partnership.
Belgium was liberated by American and Canadian soldiers at the end of the Second World War and with the Battle of the Bulge a special bond was created between our two countries. The post-war period was characterized by a strong Trans-Atlantic cooperation with the creation of NATO in 1949. Since then Belgo-American relations have grown strong in a sphere of mutual respect.
Obviously, the United States remain the important Strategic partner for Belgium and Europe in general with common values and strategic interests as the basis of this partnership. The enhanced cooperation on security and defence is the evident consequence of common values as the strengthening of the multilateral system and democracy around the world.
The United States taking on the leading role in different operations like Resolute Support and Inherent Resolve, allow us to contribute in the achieving of these common challenges to promote regional stability in the areas of our interest. Participating in common operations implies a high degree of cooperation and interoperability, which is reflected in many bilateral contacts, in the sphere of education and training, in operations, and not to mention the many military and political fora where we take part in, and certainly not to forget, the procurement of equipment and weapon systems.
The United States and Belgium have been interconnected for a long time and the intention is to continue cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally for a long time to come.
Additional: “To our brave Belgian allies and comrades-in-arms, I say ‘Amérique se souvient de vos sacrifices.’ (America remembers your sacrifices). Excerpt from the speech of Chief Master Sgt. Richard Lien, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief from Twig, Minn, at the honoring those who gave their lives ceremony in Hombourg, Belgium. November 11, 2013.
Special Edition Interview with the Belgian Chief of Defence Hon. Admiral Michel Hofman (Part-1)
Interview with the Belgian Chief of Defence Hon. Admiral Michel Hofman, conducted by Editor in Chief
Admiral we are profoundly honored to have this special occasion with you. Thank you very much for accepting our invitation.
Q: 1 I would like to start the first question with the comprehensive view of the Belgian Armed Forces. Could you please tell us about Belgium’s strategic interests and engagements in the overseas missions.
The effective engagements of the Belgian Defence are situated in the framework of deterrence and collective defence, collective security, the protection of the Belgian citizens and interests abroad, and the assistance on the national territory in case of crises or emergencies. The objective is to remain a reliable and important partner within the UN, the EU and NATO. As a small country in the centre of Europe and in the strong conviction of the complementarity between the European approach and NATO’s role, Belgium continues to promote multilateralism and the integrated approach of the European Union.
When it comes to deterrence and collective defence, it goes without saying that we ensure a fair contribution to the NATO Readiness Action Plan with engagements on the eastern flank of the alliance. Belgian Defence is among others present with ground forces embedded in a German Battle Group in Lithuania, we have a long tradition of contributing to the Air policing Mission in the Baltic States and to the NATO’s Defence Capacity Building (DCB) projects in countries on the eastern flank. Furthermore, Belgium continuous to contribute to the NATO Response Forces, the Readiness Initiative and the Standing NATO Maritime and Mine Counter Measure Groups. By taking up its responsibility, Belgium wants to remain a reliable partner within NATO.
In the area of collective security, our challenges lie in the fight against international terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization. Remembering the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March 2016, Belgium’s focus is directed towards the regions of instability on the southern borders of Europe, more precisely the Mediterranean area, the Sahel and West Africa and the Middle East. The Sahel is undoubtedly Belgium’s main effort. In Mali, we contribute to the MINUSMA mission of the UN and to the EUTM Mission. We support the Nigerian forces in their fight against terrorism, since 2017 on a bilateral basis. This operation, which is firmly coordinated with other partner nations present in the country, is a very good example of Belgium’s expertise how to support forces in the development of capacities, based on the principle of local ownership. Belgium also participates to the French TAKUBA mission in Mali. Furthermore, the Belgian Armed Forces do support numerous projects of development, cooperation and capacity building in different countries in West Africa.
In the Middle East region, Belgian Defence is an important contributor to the D-ISIS Coalition. The region of the Middle East is still a breeding ground for violent extremism and with our actual contributions with F-16 fighter aircrafts, we support the Iraqi and Coalition forces in their endeavours to prevent a resurgence of ISIS.
After almost two decades of Belgian presence in Afghanistan and participation in different missions, we will end our engagement this summer, in concurrence with the NATO decision to end the Resolute Support Mission.
In addition to the many foreign assignments, the Belgian armed forces also remain active on our national territory. The Belgian armed forces were several times deployed to assist the nation as demonstrated during the terrorist attacks and the actual COVID-pandemic, where Belgian soldiers provided support to the nation in different fields.
I note with pride the numerous and the broad spectrum of engagements the service men and women of a small army that contributes to defend the nations interests.
The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel congratulates Donald Trump on his victory in the Presidential elections.
“These elections were remarkable and the American people have spoken out. I wish you success in carrying out the responsibilities of this high office. I express the wish that you will be a president who unites who is open to a respectful dialogue. I hope that Belgium and the United States will continue to defend our common values of freedom and tolerance.”
More than ever it is my conviction that a strong and convincing European project is necessary. Belgium will continue to invest in that dynamic.“I hope that you will continue to lend your support to the European project and help to guarantee continuing security within the NATO framework.” The Prime Minister would also like to thank President Barack Obama specifically for the excellent cooperation between our country and the United States.
Belgium’s Candidacy for the UN Security Council
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders launched today in New York, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and of the Permanent Representatives to the UN, the Belgian campaign for a seat at the United Nations Security Council for the 2019-2020 period. The motto proclaims:
Foreign Minister Didier Reynders affirmed that Belgium will fully commit to the prevention of conflicts, their resolution and the search for a sustainable peace, as well as the prevention and the fight against terrorism, all the while continuing to promote Human Rights, the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development. July 12, 2016 © MFA of Belgium
Foreign Minister Didier Reynders speech at the UN Security Council New York on Belgium Candidacy for the UN Security Council 2019-2020.
Belgium has allocated 75 million EUR for Syria at the International donor conference in London
“75 million to allow the refugees to stay in their own region. The international support is intended to improve the refugees’ living conditions. Health, education, better sanitary conditions and also better access to the labour market must be the priority. It is important that we encourage the refugees to stay in the region near their country of origin and to provide dignified living conditions. The support and commitment of the international community can make the difference.” Elaborated Prime Minister Charles Michel February 4, 2016
July 20, 2016 © The Belgian MOD
The Message from U.S Department of State on the Occasion of Belgium’s National Day
The Belgian Air-Force guarding the Baltic skies
February 16, 2016 © NATO
The United States and Belgium
December 2015 © The U.S Embassy Brussels
Belgium has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, for 2016-2018
More about Belgium
- Visit Belgium-1
- Visit Belgium-2
- Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
- Museum Library of fine Arts and History
- Waterloo Memorial 1815 Museum
- Belgium for German speaking community
- Belgium for French speaking community
The Nobel Laureates from Belgium
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