It's been almost impossible to obtain hard info regarding the effect of the BAF's airstrikes against ISIS. Last thing I heard myself was when the tally was 18 targets hit (solely over Iraq, our jets don't operate over Syria), but that was two months ago. I suspect the sudden radio silence since then has everything to do with not causing grief to Belgium's sizeable muslim community. There is the fact that ISIS enjoys a tremendous lot of support from our, ahem, well-integrated muslim brethren, a fact easily verifiable online, plus of course Belgium is one of the top European countries per capita to dispatch would be ISIS rambos to Syria and Iraq. So news of our jets vaporizing some target of their champions might lead the more excitable among them to, say, plow a van into an infidel crowd gathered at some Chistmas Fair in one of our cities. Just guessing.
Anyway, I assume our pilots are still continuing the daily two-plane missions. Below you see a recent video shot from a French Armée de l'Air C-135FR tanker resupplying a BAF F-16AM somewhere over Iraq. The jet's ordnance consists of a GBU-12 Laser Guided Bomb and a GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). There's also two AIM-120 AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and two AIM-9 Sidewinder IR-guided AA missiles, though I can't see the rationale for carrying such an impressive AA armament in a ground attack operation.
The video also shows a French E3-F AWACS being refueled by the same C-135FR. France's ageing fleet of these planes, which are used in the dual role of tanker plane/transport, will be replaced with Airbus A400M's and A330 MRTT's (Multi Role Tanker Transports).
Now for the bad news. Belgium's small but nevertheless not insignificant presence in international military operations hides an extremely unpleasant truth, namely the intention of the current supposedly center-right government to cut the Defense Budget even more to an appalling and totally irresponsible 0.5 per cent of GDP.
I wrote 'supposedly center-right' because that's what it is, the current government under PM Charles Michel (MR) is first and foremost center-right by perception only. It does indeed plan austerity measures but is not truly committed to reduce the country's core problem: the overwhelming size of the state. The government's approach to the crisis remains just as Keynesian as your run of the mill socialist counterpart. On a population of 11 million, about 1.1 million persons are on the government payroll in one capacity or another. Of every 100 EUR spent in Belgium, reportedly 54 or so are being spent via the State's channels. THIS, together with an insane immigration policy, is what is killing our country's economy. Belgium's entrepreneurs and a small intellectual elite of bright engineers and scientists, together with a by and large first-class but ageing workforce in the ever more shrinking private sector, keep the country from sinking. Every day they are succesfully waging their battles against an ever more usurping government, but all of them are like winning generals in a losing war. The only decent strategy to counter the country's demise would be for the state to completely stop hiring employees and not replacing them when they retire, until there are at least 300,000 less compared to the current level. Furthermore an immediate stop to immigration from muslim countries.
Neither will happen, which is why Belgium, like the rest of Europe, will slowly continue its inevitable decline. Despite the best efforts of the private sector, if nothing happens, our economy will share a fate comparable to that of cement and aggregate in a concrete mixer of which the revolving drum turns ever more slowly: ever more regulations and an ever growing state budget will finally cause the whole shebang to seize up.
Against this backdrop, our small military is setting an example of efficiency, virtually the sole one wherever an effort by the State is on display. Now operating on less than a shoestring budget and with the insane prospect of seeing its budget shrink to even less than the one provided for that old bottomless pit of Development Aid, small miracles are still being performed. Our jets are still capable of destroying islamic terrorists thousands of miles away from home, while others help providing aircover over the Baltic Republics; our frigates take part in successful anti-piracy operations off Somalia; and our troops are helping in peacekeeping operations throughout Africa, demining operations in Lebanon, and training missions as far apart as Congo, Benin, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The irresponsibility and ignorance of the current crop of young Belgian ministers, in the federal as well as in the regional governments (Michel, De Croo, Schauvlieghe, Geens et al) is breathtaking. In an international geopolitical context that is literally screaming for normal nations to augment their defense budgets, this crew sees fit to instead lower its commitment to.... just 25 per cent of common NATO standard. By contrast, up north, in The Netherlands, they have seen the sign on the wall and the MoD's budget there will again be augmented to 2 per cent of GDP. Admittedly, this decision was possibly spurred by the downing of the Malaysia airliner over the Ukraine this summer by a missile delivered by Putin, a tragedy which cost the lives of some 200 Dutch citizens.
But then this appalling example should have been just as clear a message to our politicians: that the world has not become safer over the past years.
The Belgian government's nonsensical decision to decapitate its military is also a clear sign of the total absence of common sense with regards to the growing domestic threat to our native population. And by that I not only mean the danger from terrorist attacks. Any level-headed politican with a minimal grasp of history should be able to foresee the grave threat to the autochton population posed by Belgium's muslim community, with its runaway demographics. Like in every country where the muslim majority at some point reaches a critical treshold - and this treshold may be well below the 50 per cent mark - a civil war is practically a given.
Indeed, a responsible government should quietly prepare TODAY for the eventuality of 2040, to spare the native population as well as the productive part of our immigrants the fate that has befallen so many in countries where islam began roaring its ugly head. My mom's sister runs a B & B in Bruges, and last month there was an affluent Lebanese couple with children among their guests. The man, a maronite Christian, started to bemoan the fate of his beloved Lebanon, which in his young days, when the ratio Christians/Muslims was along 70/30 per cent lines, was rightly considered the Switzerland of the Middle East. These days, he told my mom's sister and her friend, the population ratios had reversed, "and look at what Lebanon has become". Had I been present, I would have pressed on with questions because, according to R. and B., the man was clearly in a talking mood. B. however, my aunt's friend, cut the communication short with a no-brainer like that 'he respected the guest's view but was in no place to take sides'... after which his Lebanese guest politely refrained from continuing.
Anyway, similar mechanisms as have played out in Lebanon and in Europe's own backyard in the nineties are right now on full display in yet other countries, most notably in western Africa. In Nigeria e.g., muslims have been outbreeding the Christians for decades. To be sure, Islam's ascent in this potentially very rich country has throughout history been borne just as well by several jihads, most notably the one against the Hausa rulers in the early nineteenth century. A further factor has ironically been colonialism, which allowed muslims in the north freedom of movement and religion, which they used to travel south and establish footholds there, while the very nature of islam itself prohibited any such development by Christians in the south vectored towards the north. Anyway, whatever factors have borne the rise of islam in Nigeria, the fact remains that muslims now outnumber Christians, with all the expected consequences.
The Nigerian government can perhaps be excused for not having the resources to protect its citizens against the beasts of Boko Haram, who are quite literally tearing the country, once one of the richest of the continent, apart.
The Belgian government has no such excuse.