The military will leave the streets of Belgian cities for the first time since the 2015 attacks

The military will leave the streets of Belgian cities for the first time since the 2015 attacks

The Belgian Armed Forces are terminating the Vigilant Guardian operation, which involved the involvement of thousands of military personnel, to provide security measures on the streets of major cities, railway stations, airports, and near the embassies of individual countries.

RTBF reported this.

“The mission is scheduled to end on August 31. As of September 1, 2021, soldiers will no longer be involved in policing. The police will take over this responsibility,” the Belgian Armed Forces said.

In total, the operation mobilized thousands of soldiers from three branches of the military (land, air, and medical) and cost more than 216,000,000 euros reimbursed to the army through inter-agency support dedicated to the fight against terrorism.

Soldiers have been present on Belgian streets — first statically and then during “dynamic” patrols — since January 17, 2015, following the attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the dismantling of a jihadist cell in the city of Verviers.

The mission, approved by the Belgian government, was intended to “temporarily station” a squad of soldiers inside the country at a time of increased terrorist threat.

The number of soldiers in the mission varied according to the level of the terrorist threat. It was increased from an initial 300 soldiers to 1,300 after November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris, and then to 1,828 soldiers after March 22, 2016, attacks in Brussels.

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