Why Belgium Needs a Special Operations Command

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Alexander Mattelaer

The setting up of a Special Operations Command (SOCOM) constitutes a key element of the ongoing Belgian defence reforms. This Policy Brief aims to put the present demand for special operations forces in its historical context and engage in the discussion on how to structure and employ this special instrument of policy. Building on the legacy of the paracommando regiment, the future Belgian SOCOM constitutes a critical capability within an adaptive force structure. This new entity must be able to deliver results in a variety of unconventional missions that require high readiness, intellectual flexibility and maximum discretion or surprise. At the same time, special operations forces do not constitute a substitute for having a comprehensive security policy. They function best when used as force multipliers alongside other instruments of power towards joint effect. As the proverbial tip of the spear, they must lead the way for Belgian defence regeneration in general.