Belgium stood up its new Special Operations Regiment (SOR) in a ceremony in Heverlee, east of Brussels, on 3 July.
The regiment replaced the Belgian Land Component’s Light Brigade, taking over its 3 Parachute Battalion and 2 Commando Battalion – known collectively as para-commandos – and their training centres, as well as the Special Forces Group. In addition, the Heverlee-based 6 Communication and Information Systems Group has been integrated into the SOR.
Belgian Defence Minister Steven Vandeput pointed out that the conversion of the Light Brigade is part of the Strategic Vision 2020 defence review, describing it as “one of the spearheads of the restructuring of the land component”.
He added that the formation of the SOR laid “solid foundations” for the future. “Co-operation between special forces and highly specialised troops like the para-commandos clearly reinforce our country’s possibilities for contributing to new NATO concepts within the framework of our collective defence.”
Vandeput cited as one of the important tasks of the regiment “to provide military support to local ground troops” like the Belgian Army’s training and support of Iraqi troops “so they can guarantee the security of their country themselves”.
SOR commander Colonel Vincent Descheemaeker said the regiment would have a much more adaptable modular structure, with the ability to form detachments with specific armaments required for a mission. He said the SOR’s decision-making process, structure, and training made it ready to be committed wherever Belgium has to intervene.
Col Descheemaeker expected more changes. “Our internal structures are in the process of being changed. The Special Forces Group is receiving new personnel and each unit will receive a specific reorientation aimed at conducting special operations,” he said.
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