Belgian Land Component

The Land Component (Dutch: Landcomponent, French: Composante terre) is the land branch of the Belgian Armed Forces. The King of the Belgians is the commander in chief.The current chief of staff of the Land Component is Major-General Pierre Gérard.

Land Component
French: Composante terre
Dutch: Landkomponent
Flag of the Land Component since 1982
Active18302002 (as the Belgian Army)
2002present (as the Belgian Land Component)
Country Belgium
Allegiance King of the Belgians
Size9,800 active military personnel
2,000 active military reserve
Part of Belgian Armed Forces
CommanderMajor-General Pierre Gérard

For a detailed history of the Belgian Army from 1830 to post 1945 see Belgian Armed Forces.

Ranks in use by the Belgian Army are listed at Belgian military ranks.

Organisation 1870s

According to the Law of 16 August 1873, the army was to consist of:


  • 14 regiments of line infantry (three active battalions, one inactive and one company in each regiment depot)
  • 3 regiments of Jäger (three active battalions, one inactive and one company in each regiment depot)
  • 1 regiment of grenadiers (three active battalions, one inactive and one company in each regiment depot)
  • 1 regiment of Carabinier (four battalions active, 2 inactive and 1 depot company of deposit)
  • 2 companies settled
  • 1 discipline body
  • 1 school of children troop

Note: a battalion (864 men) consists of four companies of 216 men


  • 4 regiments of lancers (4 active squadrons and one reinforcement in each regiment)
  • 2 regiments of guides (4 active squadrons and one reinforcement in each regiment)
  • 2 regiments of Chasseur (4 active squadrons and one reinforcement in each regiment)

Note: a squadron had approximately 130 horses


  • 4 regiments of artillery (10 batteries in each regiment)
  • 3 regiments of fortress artillery or siege artillery (16 batteries, 1 battery and 1 spare battery depot in each regiment)
  • 1 pontoon company
  • 1 company of artificers
  • 1 company of gunsmiths
  • 1 company of artillery workers

Note: A battery has 6 guns


  • 1 Engineer Regiment (3 active battalions and one depot battalion)
  • 1 railway company
  • 1 campaign Telegraph company
  • 1 telegraph room company
  • 1 pontoon room company
  • 1 workers company


World War I

A major reorganisation of the army had been authorised by the government in 1912, providing for a total army of 350,000 men by 1926 - 150,000 in the field forces, 130,000 in fortress garrisons and 70,000 reserves and auxiliaries. At the outbreak of war this reorganisation was nowhere near complete and only 117,000 men could be mobilised for the field forces, with the other branches equally deficient.

The Commander-in-Chief was King Albert I, with Lieutenant-General Chevalier Antonin de Selliers de Moranville as the Chief of the General Staff from 25 May 1914 until 6 September 1914 when a Royal Decree abolished the function of Chief of Staff of the army. In this way the King secured his control of the command.[1]

In addition, there were garrisons at Antwerp, Liège and Namur, each placed under the command of the local divisional commander.[2]

Each division contained three mixed brigades (of two infantry regiments and one artillery regiment), one cavalry regiment, and one artillery regiment, as well as various support units. Each infantry regiment contained three battalions, with one regiment in each brigade having a machine-gun company of six guns. An artillery regiment had three batteries of four guns.

The nominal strength of a division varied from 25,500 to 32,000 all ranks, with a total strength of eighteen infantry battalions, a cavalry regiment, eighteen machine-guns, and forty-eight guns. Two divisions (the 2nd and 6th) each had an additional artillery regiment, for a total of sixty guns.

The Cavalry Division had two brigades of two regiments each, three horse artillery batteries, and a cyclist battalion, along with support units; it had a total strength of 4,500 all ranks with 12 guns, and was - in effect - little more than a reinforced brigade.

World War II

In 1940, the King of Belgium was the commander in chief of the Belgian Army which had 100,000 active duty personnel; its strength could be raised to 550,000 when fully mobilized. The army was composed of seven infantry corps, that were garrisoned at Brussels, Antwerp, and Liege, and two divisions of partially-mechanised cavalry Corps at Brussels and the Ardenne. The Corps were as follows:

  • I Corps with the 1st, 4th, and 7th Infantry Divisions
  • II Corps with the 6th, 11th, and 14th Infantry Divisions
  • III Corps with the 1st Chasseurs Ardennais and the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions
  • IV Corps with the 9th, 15th, and 18th Infantry Divisions
  • V Corps with three divisions
  • VI Corps with three divisions

Each Army Corps had its own headquarters staff, two active and several reserve Infantry Divisions, Corps Artillery Regiment of four battalions of two batteries with 16 artillery pieces per battalion, and a Pioneer regiment.

Each infantry divisions had a divisional staff along with three infantry regiments, each of 3,000 men. Each regiment had 108 light machine guns, 52 heavy machine guns, nine heavy mortars or infantry gun howitzers, plus six antitank guns.

Within the Free Belgian Forces that were formed in Great Britain during the occupation of Belgium between 1940–45, there was a land force formation, the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade. An additional three divisions were raised and trained in Northern Ireland, but the war ended before they could see action. However, they joined the initial Belgian occupation force in Germany, I Belgian Corps, whose headquarters moved to Luedenscheid in October 1946.[3] Of the 75,000 troops that found themselves in Germany on 8 May 1945, the vast majority had been recruited after the liberation of Belgium.[4]

Cold War

During the Cold War, Belgium provided the I Belgian Corps (HQ Haelen Kaserne, Junkersdorf, Lindenthal (Cologne)), consisting of the 1st Infantry Division in Liège and 16th Mechanised Division in Neheim-Hüsten, to NATO's Northern Army Group for the defence of West Germany.[5] There were also two reserve brigades (10th Mechanised Brigade, Limbourg, and the 12th Motorised Brigade, Liège), slightly bigger than the four active brigades, which were intended as reinforcements for the two divisions. Interior forces comprised the Para-Commando Regiment in Heverlee, three national defence light infantry battalions (5th Chasseurs Ardennais, 3rd Carabiniers-cyclistes, and 4th Carabiniers-cyclistes), four engineer battalions and nine provincial regiments with two to five light infantry battalions each. (Isby and Kamps, 1985, 64, 72)

After the end of the Cold War, forces were reduced. Initial planning in 1991 called for a Belgian-led corps with 2 or 4 Belgian brigades, a German brigade, and possibly a U.S. brigade.[6] However, by 1992 this plan was looking unlikely and in 1993 a single Belgian division with two brigades became part of the Eurocorps.[7]


Belgian Army - brigade locations

The Land Component is organised in 2 brigades and 10 smaller units. In total, the landcomponent consists of almost 10,000 military personnel (as of 2019). After the 2018 reforms, the ground forces are organised as following:

COMPONSLAND (the HQ of the landcomponent) It oversees and plans all activities and operations of the land component.

  • Motorized Brigade at Leopoldsburg (formed from the 1st Mechanised Brigade in 2011). The brigade comprises about 6,500 soldiers divided into 16 units. The combat capacity consists of 5 motorised infantry battalions equipped with VBMR Griffon and EBRC Jaguar vehicles, they are supported by 2 engineer battalions, 2 logistic battalions, 2 CIS groups (communications), 1 field artillery battalion, 1 reconnaissance battalion, 2 military training camps and the 8/9 line HQ company.
  • Special operations regiment (formerly the 7th Mechanised Brigade) at Marche-en-FamenneThe brigade has more than 1,500 elite soldiers under its command. It plans and carries out special operations all around the world and is the main expeditionary unit of the Belgian ground forces. The brigade consists of the 2nd commando battalion, the 3rd parachute battalion, the special forces group (SFG) the 6th communications group, parachute and commando training centres and the 4th commando HQ company. All units have airborne capabilities. The brigade operates light armoured vehicles to maneuver across difficult terrains.

The service capacity comprises the Military Police Group, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (known as DOVO in Dutch and SEDEE in French, the Movement Control Group, the information operations group and the training centres and camps. The training capacity comprises four departments: the Training Department Infantry at Arlon, the Training Department Armour-Cavalry at Leopoldsburg, the Training Department Artillery at Brasschaat and the Training Department Engineers at Namur.

Some of the regiments in the Land Component, such as the Regiment 12th of the Line Prince Leopold - 13th of the Line, have names consisting of multiple elements. This is the result of a series of amalgamations which took place over the years. The Regiment 12th of the Line Prince Leopold - 13th of the Line was created in 1993 as a result of the merger of the 12th Regiment of the Line Prince Leopold and the 13th Regiment of the Line.



Weapon Caliber Origin Photo Notes
Browning GP 9×19mm  Belgium Standard issue sidearm. Being phased out in favour of the FN Five-seven
FN Five-seven mk2 5.7×28 mm  Belgium Formerly issued to pilots and SFG members. Now entering service as the standard issue sidearm
Glock 17 9×19mm  Austria Used by the SFG, SOBU, and DAS.
Submachine Guns
FN Uzi 9×19mm  Israel  Belgium Made under license by FN Herstal and used as a personal defence weapon for Special Forces, Navy, and Medical personnel
FN P90 5.7×28 mm  Belgium Personal defence weapon used by selected troops, including special forces
MP9 9×19mm   Switzerland Used by the SFG, SOBU, and DAS
Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles and Carbines
FN FNC 5.56×45mm  Belgium Standard service rifle, to be replaced with SCAR-L
FN F2000 5.56×45mm  Belgium Used by special forces and elsewhere in limited quantities to serve alongside the FN FNC
FN SCAR-L STD 5.56×45mm  Belgium 4500 SCAR-L in use as the new standard service rifle
FN SCAR-L CQC 5.56×45mm  Belgium Standard service rifle of the Belgian special forces group
FN SCAR-H CQC 7.62×51mm  Belgium 63 SCAR-H CQC ordered for special forces combat divers
Sniper Rifles
FN SCAR-H PR 7.62×51mm  Belgium 287 SCAR-H PR rifles on order to replace the AW between 2015 and 2017
Accuracy International Arctic Warfare 7.62×51mm  United Kingdom To be replaced by a combination of SCAR-H PR, AXMC, and M107A1
Accuracy International AXMC .338 LM  United Kingdom
Barrett M107A1 12.7×99mm  United States 59 delivered by the end of 2014
Machine Guns
FN Minimi 5.56 Mk3 Tactical SB 5.56×45mm  Belgium Standard issue LMG. Currently being updated to 'Mk3 Tactical SB' standards, featuring a shorter barrel, Adjustable buttstock with shoulder rest, Ergonomic railed handguard, new bipod assembly and cocking handle.
FN Minimi 7.62 Mk3 7.62×51mm  Belgium The Belgian government signed a 2 million euro contract to replace all MAG's with 242 Minimi's chambered in 7.62×51mm.
FN MAG 7.62×51mm  Belgium Standard general-purpose machine gun. To be replaced with 242 7.62×51mm chambered Minimi's
M2HB QCB 12.7×99mm  United States Standard issue HMG
Remington 870 12-gauge  United States In service since 2008[8]
Grenade Launchers
GL-1 40×46mm  Belgium Used by regular infantry and paratroopers mounted under FN F2000 rifles on a squad based level
FN40GL 40×46mm  Belgium Used by special forces mounted under FN SCAR rifles. 507 on order to replace the F2000 on a squad based level
Heckler & Koch GMG 40×53mm  Germany Mounted on the army's new Jankel FOX Rapid Reaction Vehicles
Anti-tank Missile Launchers
MILAN 115 mm  France Will be replaced by Spike ATGM in the near future
Spike-MR 152 mm  Israel 66 new anti-tank missile systems are currently being delivered to replace the army's older MILAN ATGM.[9]
Anti-tank Rocket Launchers
M72 LAW 66 mm  United States Will be replaced by RGW 90 as the short range anti-tank weapon on a squad based level
RGW 90 HH 90 mm  Germany 111 short range anti-tank weapons are to be purchased in the near future.[9]
120 RT Mortar 120 mm  France About 30 in use[10]
M1 Mortar 81 mm  United States About 42 in use[10]
M19 Mortar 60 mm  United States About 60 used by the ParaCommando regiment for light fire support[10]
LG1 Mark II Howitzer 105 mm  France 14 in use
Mecar M72 HE grenade NA  Belgium Fragmentation hand grenade
Mecar M93BG grenade NA  Belgium Rifle grenade for the FN FNC
M18 grenade NA  United States Smoke hand grenade
M6A2 Mine NA  United States Anti-tank mine
HAFLA NA  Germany Single-shot, disposable incendiary weapon


The Belgian Army is currently undergoing a major re-equipment programme for most of its vehicles. The aim is to phase out all tracked vehicles in favour of wheeled vehicles. As of 2010, the tank units were to be disbanded or amalgamated with the Armored Infantry (two infantry companies and one tank squadron per battalion). 40 Leopard 1 tanks were still waiting to be sold; the rest were transferred to Lebanon. As of 2013, only some M113 variants (Radar, recovery, command posts and driving school vehicles) and Leopard variants (Recovery, AVLB, Pionier, driving tanks) will remain in service.

The Leopard 1A5 tank was retired on 10 September 2014. 56 of the tanks will be sold, about 24 will stay as historic monuments or serve as a museum pieces; the rest will be phased out or used for target practice.[11][12]

Name Origin Type Number Photo Notes
Armoured vehicles
Piranha IIIC   Switzerland Armoured fighting vehicle 268[13] Will be replaced by the VBMR Griffon from 2025[14]
  • 138 Engineering variants providing Mobility, Countermobility and Protection
  • 64 FUS Armored personnel carriers
  • 19 DF30: Fire support version equipped with MK44 Bushmaster II in an ORCWS-30
  • 18 DF90: Fire support version equipped with a 90 mm cannon
  • 14 CP serving as a mobile command post
  • 6 Ambulance versions
  • 9 Recovery versions
Pandur I  Austria Armoured personnel carrier 59[13] Will be replaced by the EBRC Jaguar from 2025[14]
  • 45 Reconnaissance variants
  • 10 Ambulance variants
  • 4 Maintenance variants
ATF Dingo 2 MPPV  Germany Infantry mobility vehicle 218[13] Will be replaced by the VBMR Griffon from 2025[14]
  • 156 FUS variants for troop transport
  • 52 Command Post (CP)
  • 10 Ambulance variants
Iveco LMV  Italy Infantry mobility vehicle 439
Jankel FOX  United Kingdom Light Rapid Response Vehicle - SOF 108 The FOX is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, for use by the Specials Forces, includes a removable armour kit to increase ballistic and mine protection. The vehicles will be fitted with a 360° ring mount which can be armed with a 12.7mm machine gun or an automatic grenade launcher.
Unarmoured vehicles
Unimog 1.9T  Germany Light Truck 61
  • 10 Unimog 1.9T 4×4 JACAM variants
  • 47 Unimog 1.9T 4×4 Mistral variants
  • 4 Unimog 1.9T 4×4 SVB variants
Iveco M250  Italy Medium Heavy Truck 400

350 with optional removable ballistic protection kits
Iveco ALC 8x4  Italy Autonomous Load Carrier 149 In service since 2004
Mercedes-Benz Actros  Germany Transport Truck 60 In service since 2002
Renault Kerax  France Tow Truck 27 In service since 2001
Scania T144  Sweden Heavy Transport 26 In service since 2002
Groundhog  United Kingdom Terrain Vehicle 38 In service since 2009
M-Gator  United States Light utility vehicle unknown Used for medical evacuation

Former Equipment


In the strategical defense vision report of the Belgian government it was stated that by 2030 the Belgian land component will invest in new modern equipment such as weapons, vehicles, communication assets, body armor and more.[15]


  1. "de SELLIERS de MORANVILLE". Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2016-12-30.
  2. George Nafziger's order of battle for the Belgian Army in 1914 can be seen at Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Isby and Kamps, 1985, 59
  4. Entre rEssEntimEnt et ré-éducation: L’Armée belge d’Occupation et les Allemands, 1945-1952 Archived 2013-10-14 at the Wayback Machine, accessed August 2014.
  5. Steven J. Zaloga, Tank War: Central Front NATO vs Warsaw Pact, Osprey Elite 26, 1989, p.25. See also (Fr) Les Forces Belges en Allemagne Archived 2009-03-31 at the Wayback Machine, accessed April 2009
  6. "Cold War Battle Orders Make Way for a New NATO Era", Jane's Defence Weekly, June 8, 1991, p. 961.
  7. Decision Soon on Division, JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY, 20-Mar-1993, and Belgian Division Joins Eurocorps, Jane's Defence Weekly, 23 October 1993
  8. "Belgian Defence Remington 870 fact sheet". Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  9. Belgium selects Spike missile to replace Milan Archived 2017-06-29 at the Wayback Machine -, January 3, 2013
  10. "Belgian Defense Information". European Defense Information. Armed Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  11. "Leopard lost zijn laatste schot". 11 September 2014. Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  12. "België verkoopt 56 Leopardtanks". Archived from the original on 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
  13. "Voertuigen". Archived from the original on 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
  14. "Belgium to Buy French Scorpion AFVs for €1.1bn". Defense Alert. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  15. "Akkoord over het strategisch plan voor Defensie 2030". 22 December 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
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