Army begins 12-day military exercise in East and West Flanders

The Belgian Army has begun a 12-day military exercise in East and West Flanders. The large-scale exercise takes place annually but was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, with a large number of measures designed to curb the spread of coronavirus still in force, Lieutenant-Colonel Gunther Godefridis told VRT Radio 2 East Flanders that this year army personnel will avoid contact with civilians. 

If you live in East or West Flanders it is quite possible that you will see soldiers driving around as you go about your daily business. During the next 12 days there will be military patrols, low flying air force planes and the sound of munition exploding at locations across the two provinces. Lieutenant-Colonel Godefridis says that “People should not be afraid it is just an exercise”.

The Motorised Brigade's annual exercise took place for the first time in 2019. Then the exercise was staged in cooperation with the French Army in Luxembourg, Hainaut and Namur provinces. “It is the intent that over the years the exercise will have taken place in every province. This year it’s the turn of East and West Flanders”, Lieutenant-Colonel Godefridis said.  He added that the military patrols give the army the chance to show the general public what it does. “This is a way for people to see what we do and what we are about. By doing this we can maybe interest young people in a job in the military”. 

The exercise has been devised in such a way that it will have a minimal impact on civilians’ daily lives. Nevertheless, there will be a military presence on the streets day and night and some incidents will be enacted.  

The army will try to ensure that the exercise takes place in an as corona-proof fashion as possible with the troops grouped into bubbles and rapid testing. Contact with civilians will be avoided and there will be a corona coordinator present at all of the incident enactments. 

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