The Belgian military is so short of ammunition and funding that soldiers will “have to throw stones” shortly after the start of any conflict, said Marc Thys, a former top general.
Thys, who recently retired from the Belgian army with the rank of lieutenant general, said Tuesday on public broadcaster VRT that securing reserves of ammunition to fend off any attack lasting up to two months would take investment of “€5 to €7 billion,” which is far more than the government currently provides. “I had €15 million a year to buy ammunition, but that has now been increased to €150 million,” said Thys.
“If war breaks out here, we will have to throw stones after just a few hours due to a shortage of ammunition,” Thys added.
Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Western governments have been funneling ammunition to Kyiv to help it fend off Moscow’s attacks and bolster its defense.
However, the bloc’s arms producers have struggled to ramp up capacity to restock silos and keep supplies flowing east, especially when it comes to 155 millimeter caliber munitions. That means the EU is almost certain to miss its self-imposed target for deliveries to Ukraine.
While an attack on Belgium remains unlikely, the shortage brings into focus the viability of continued deliveries to Ukraine if national stocks are running low. In November, shortly after Thys’ retirement, the Belgian government signed a two-decade deal with local armament manufacturer FN Herstal, including for ammunition, but deliveries will take time.