Benelux Deepens Cooperation

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Belgium and the Netherlands (and Luxembourg) are further deepening their defense cooperation. A political-military steering group conducting studies on Benelux cooperation in eight different areas met for the first time this week, Dutch Defense Minister Hans Hillen announced today during a visit to naval facilities in Zeebrugge and Bruges hosted by his Belgian counterpart, Pieter De Crem.

Belgian Defense photo by M. Azoug

Areas of cooperation being considered include a quick reaction force of Belgian and Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s to guard both countries' airspace and the joint replacement of their F-16s. On 24 September, the Dutch army chief, Lt.Gen. Mart de Kruif, and a Belgian delegation will kick off five army cooperation projects, including tactical firing exercises, special forces training, the creation of a Benelux paratroop training center, and greater cooperation between the two countries' mechanized brigades.

The long-standing defense cooperation between Belgium and the Netherlands includes the integration of their naval staff within the Admiralty Benelux for the last 15 years and cooperation in Afghanistan, notably with F-16s.

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