Military to patrol the streets at least until 2020

General-major Marc Thys has told the daily De Standaard that he expects to see soldiers on our streets for some years to come. Defence ministry plans acknowledge that Operation Homeland that includes soldiers guarding sensitive points on our streets will continue at least until 2020.

The defence chief accepts that this new task is having an impact on the lives of Belgian soldiers. Army training plans too are being modified to take account of this. In future the emphasis will be less on skills that are not required for street patrols. Major manoeuvres involving several different units will probably be scaled down.

General-major Thys: "We have to be ready and trained for all missions, but people form our greatest challenge. On average they are now out on patrol for six months a year. We hope to cut this by a third."

Thys is eager to see more patrols and fewer guard duties outside buildings.