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"Armored Brigade Nation Pack: France - Belgium" Belgium General Strategy

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Published on October 28, 2019

In a few days the new DLC of Armored Brigade, Nation Pack: France - Belgium will be available: the release date is October 31st. In the meanwhile, discover the features of the Belgian Army by reading the thorough examination below. If you want, see also the French corps analysis here.

BELGIUM

The Belgian I Corps, with two mechanised divisions, was the southernmost corps of Northern Army Group, or NORTHAG. While the I Corps was permanently assigned to the forward defence role in Germany, supervision of the home territory was the responsibility of the Forces of Interior. Latter included not only the training and reserve cadres bolstered by local Gendarmerie, but also the elite and battle-hardened Para-Commando Regiment. While unfortunately not much is available regarding the Belgian tactical defence doctrine, the Belgian Army was generally rated by NATO as well prepared and with consistent high readiness, determined not to repeat the failure of 1940 war.

However, persistent issues with small defence budget meant that much of its equipment remained obsolescent; its main battle tank, the Leopard 1(BE) was of 1960s vintage and its M75 and AMX-13 Mod 56 APCs, as well as its Alouette II helicopters were almost museum-pieces from the 1950s. Despite the proven high proficiency of Belgian tank crews, the armoured “punch” had to be boosted from time to time by British tank formations. There was a modest rearmament program in 1975-1985 period, upgrading primarily APCs and artillery, increasing the numbers of ATGMs and replacing most of the Air Force’s fast jets with modern aircraft.

“People waxes and wanes according to the worth of its army: the army lives or dies on its infantry”. Such was the extreme point of view expressed in the German recruiting booklet Offizier im Grossdeutschen Heer (1942).

Hence, it is probably true that the centerpiece of Belgian Army in Armored Brigade are its (mechanized) infantry forces, strongly reaffirming the need for combined arms operations. While this lesson is true for any armed force, lack of technological advantage in pretty much any aspect over probable Soviet opponent in Belgian case imply that the combined coordinated action of infantry, armor and artillery is not only essential to success, but to survival itself.

However, the various obstructions provided by variations in terrain elevation, vegetation and built-up areas can block or inhibit the capacity and advantage of the enemy firepower. This opacity creates opportunities for cover and concealment. Exploiting terrain gives opportunities to mitigate the effects of enemy quantitative and firepower advantage through such techniques as using cover, camouflage and dispersal to reduce the ability of the enemy either to find targets or to apply combat power against them. Understanding and manipulating “ground” is often crucial to success in land warfare.

Since Belgians have slim chances of winning while fighting head-to-head against a quantitatively and qualitatively superior enemy on a battlefield of unprecedented lethality, intensity, and density, they must almost completely rely on combined arms, terrain and mobility. Here you can observe Belgian battalion using low hills as cover in meeting engagement with Soviet armoured force.

Mobility is not an absolute, but must be measured relative to the difficulty of the terrain and to the mobility of other friendly or enemy forces. For a combined arms team, the least mobile element may determine the mobility of the entire force. Without mobility, the principles of mass, maneuver, and offensive cannot be applied, and surprise becomes very difficult. Protection means both security against enemy surprise attack and capability to allow offensive maneuver or defense on the battlefield. This battlefield protection may be accomplished by using terrain defilade and defensive fortifications, or by employing artificial means such as smoke screens. Machine gun, mortar and SPG sections should be detailed to follow the leading companies, whenever infantry or armor.

Belgian Army gave particular care to reconnaissance, since 1975 organized and equipped according to British model. It was deemed vital, being planned, continuous and progressive, taking full advantage of concealment, defilade, and terrain.

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