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Belgium wants to authorize private guards. Reluctant military unions

(credit: Belgian Ministry of Defence)

(BRUSSELS2) The Belgian government's plan to authorize private military companies on board merchant ships flying the national flag transiting the Indian Ocean does not arouse the support of all military personnel and some questions among deputies. “The government has just put its finger in a gear that will prove to be very dangerous and problematic, despite the strict measures that have been taken” indicates the military union CGSP Defense (socialist). They fear that once authorized, these private companies will become economically indispensable even if acts of piracy disappear from the Somali coast. With budget cuts in the naval component of the army, "the next governments will have no choice but to extend the authorizations (of private guards), even to multiply them". Ultimately, this makes the CGSP fear that budgetary difficulties will constitute an argument against the commitment of the Belgian Defense to anti-piracy action, as is the case today. Louise Marie off the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Only one military team activated since 2009

Admittedly, the government has offered merchant ships to embark a military protection team on board VPD (Vessel Protection Detachments). But, for three years, this possibility has only been activated once. it is true that it has a certain cost for shipowners — 115.000 euros — and they would prefer to use the services of private companies. For the Minister of Defense, Pieter De Crem (CD&V, Flemish Christian Democrat), the problem is budgetary... and priorities as he clarified in a response to Georges Dallemagne, the CDH senator (French-speaking Christian Democrat), beginning of November. "Unlike the French defence, we do not have equipment, weapons and ammunition in the areas concerned. Transport by air is therefore expensive and Belgian shipowners ask to be able to call on private security companies.»

Towards a legalization of private guards

The Belgian government submitted to the office of the Chamber of Deputies last October two draft bills authorizing the use of private guards within a legislative framework. Geographically, their use is strictly limited to the Somali coast. And the companies concerned will have to show their credentials in terms of their personnel, their equipment, or their experience in maritime security.

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