The Belgian army is so short of ammunition and funding that soldiers “will have to throw stones” soon after the start of a conflict, said Marc Thys, a former top general.
Thys, who recently retired from the Belgian army with the rank of lieutenant general, told public broadcaster VRT on Tuesday that securing ammunition reserves to ward off any attack lasting up to two months would require an investment of “5 to 7 billion euros”. which is much more than the government currently provides. “I had 15 million euros per year to buy ammunition, but this amount has now been increased to 150 million euros,” Thys said.
“If war breaks out here, we will be forced to throw stones after just a few hours due to the lack of ammunition,” Thys added.
Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Western governments have flown munitions to kyiv to help it repel attacks from Moscow and bolster its defense.
However, the bloc’s arms producers have struggled to increase their capacity to restock their silos and maintain supplies to the east, particularly of 155-millimeter caliber ammunition. This means that the EU will almost certainly fail to meet its self-imposed target for deliveries to Ukraine.
Although an attack on Belgium remains unlikely, the shortage highlights the viability of continued deliveries to Ukraine if domestic stocks run out. In November, shortly after Thys’s retirement, the Belgian government signed a twenty-year agreement with local arms manufacturer FN Herstal, notably for ammunition, but deliveries will take time.