Défense citoyenne et citoyens de la Défense :
l’armée belge et la nation


Some observers may argue that a defence-prone state of mind is difficult to identify in Belgium. Others may see it as an objective to strengthen, taking into account the political, community, historical and sociological specificities of the Kingdom. Belgium is not France, Finland, or the United Kingdom with their defence and strategic culture.

The present study aims to reflect, during these troubles times after the 2016 Brussels bombings, on the relationship between the Belgian army and the Nation. Explored issues are the relationship between citizens and the military institution, the legitimation of the military institution in terms of values and the relevant ethics to be observed, the level of trust and support, the defence-prone state of mind, the level of resilience, the perception of the militaries by society, including the presence of military patrols in the streets. This involves the development of civil-military synergies and political accountability, the professional army’s opening up to the civilian world, the sharing of ethical values, and a better resilience.

We will also deal with the morale crisis of the military, which is already perceptible with regard to their security missions in the streets, as well as with the issue of the retirement age for the military, as they have very specific tasks and are therefore not like other civil servants.

This study will also explore the teaching of defence-related matters to civilian citizens as well as the floating of trial balloons for courses in civic life, the revival of a military reserve force, and the issue of reintroducing conscription in Belgium, which is currently suspended.

Finally, we will formulate some recommendations, especially with respect to the positioning of the Belgian security and defence policy in the political, sociological and community sphere, and its relationship between the army and society. The aim is to improve the relationship between citizens, politicians, and Defence, knowing that the common destiny of the Belgians in the field of security is “nested” in the broader EU and NATO frameworks.