Thursday, June 15, 2017


Soon the scheduled 1-year tour of the six-strong F-16 BAF detachment, operating since July 2016 against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria from a Jordanian AFB, will come to an end. But it now appears four planes will stay longer, till the end of 2017. Via HLN:

 photo belgian_f16_stay_in_Jordan_zps9n6vrqlu.jpg

"Four Belgian F-16's will prolong the mission in Syria till the end of the year. An agreement exists, said PM Charles Michel during his visit in Montreal in Canada. The question will be part of the agenda of the next council of ministers. "We have reached an agreement about prolonging the mission of four (of the six, red.) F-16's to fight terrorism in Syria", said Michel. The agreement came after a meeting with Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput (who has been championing prolonging the mission for some time already) and with key ministers.

Since OCT 2014 Belgium deploys six F-16 fighter bombers in the fight against ISIS. The operations, first over Iraq, later over Syria, take place from the Al Azraq base in Jordan.

At the time (in mid-2015, after the first year-long stint during which Belgium and The Netherlands operated simultaneously with six jets each from Jordan), Belgium had agreed with The Netherlands to each intermittently deploy F-16's during six month intervals. This in order to help press down costs per fiscal year. The Netherlands has let it be known however that on July 1st, it will not (yet) take over the baton again. Which is why Belgium was asked to prolong the mission of its F-16's.

Belgium will thus further deploy, from July 1st till the 31st of December, four F-16's, supported by 110 ground personnel (of which around 20 temporarily). A Red Card Holder team of four will operate from Qatar.

The missions undertaken by our jets for the international coalition remain unaltered. Only the number of flying hours will decrease from 400 to 250 per month, Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput said. The cost of prolonging the operation is estimated at 17 million EUR."

Several conclusions and observations:

a.) It is clear that years of pounding ISIS strongholds and infrastructure have taken their toll on ISIS and that from an operational POV, it makes perhaps sense to tone it down a bit, if only for the reason that there are less targets to bomb.

b.) At the same time, it should be clear that in the greater scheme of things, the International Coalition's anti-IS operations are, in fact, but the sideshow. The REAL battlefront is the West, where islamization is in full swing on almost every front, and where the ruling political class is pretending not to see that ISIS and the spread of islam in our countries are two sides of the same coin. Failure to understand this will lead to Europe's doom first, and ultimately also the US's.

c.) Belgium's eagerness to prolong the mission must, alas, be seen against the backdrop of President Trump's lambasting the majority of NATO countries for not doing their part in the coalition, leaving the burden of financing it to the American taxpayer. As we have already noted on these pages, General Delcour, a retired Belgian Defence Chief of Staff, opined in 2015 that the Belgian government sees the deployment of our fighter bombers as a smokescreen to hide our lack of committment and the unwillingness to spend 2% of our GNP on defense as "agreed" on the NATO summit in Wales a couple of years back. General Delcour litterally said that "Belgium is a freeloader on the NATO train."

d.) The Netherlands is more serious on defense than Belgium of course, but even so, the country's failure to find sufficient cash to deploy a mere six jets for its next tour - after all, the Dutch have been away from the theatre for a year now - is troubling, to say the least. Especially in light of the fact The Netherlands's GNP is about 1.5 times that of Belgium. It is clear that a welfare state comes at a great cost.


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