The Defence Minister’s idea is not new. The unions that represent those working in our country’s armed services having been saying the same thing for several years now. The ACMP union told VRT News that “Wages are simply too low”. This is especially the case regarding technical positions, and it is these kind of vacancies that the armed services are having the most difficulty filling. Young people with technical qualification and skills can earn more working in a garage around the corner from their home than they can if they join the army, navy or the air force.
Cuts in defence expenditure in recent years have meant that recruitment levels have remained low, while many people that work(ed) for the military have retired or are approaching retirement age.
Now the military needs to recruit a sizable number of new soldiers, sailors, and airmen/airwomen quickly. However, any attempt to make a military career more attractive will cost money.
Furthermore, Ms Dedonder’s idea of the military offering internships to young people to give them a taste of military will prove difficult as there is currently hardly enough staff for the armed services to be able to carry out their core duties.
The Defence Minister has remained-tight-lipped about how her ideas should be funded. The former Belgian Military Chief of Staff asked the previous government for 1 billion euro to enable him to address the staffing issue.
However, Defence is being asked to make savings, albeit to a lesser extent than some other Federal Government departments. In addition to this new equipment such as drones, cargo planes, armoured vehicles…will need to be paid for during next few years. The bill for the new fighter jets that are on order will probably be for the next Federal Government.