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Special ops military exercise starts in the region of Mons and Tournai

15:39 13/05/2024

More than 900 soldiers from Belgium’s land, air and medical components are being deployed in the province of Hainaut for a special ops ‘Storm Tide’ exercise from May 13 to 24, reports RTBF.

The objective is to simulate the evacuation of Belgian nationals from a crisis zone abroad under the direction of the Foreign Affairs ministry.

Organised by the Belgian military special operations regiment, the exercise aims to be as realistic as possible. ‘Storm Tide’ takes place partly outside military barracks, in the regions of Mons, Tournai, Ath and Chièvres.

Air bridge to France

Concretely, the regiment will leave from the Chièvres air base towards a series of assembly points where some 1,500 extras – including students – will be evacuated. Land vehicles and boats will then be confronted with a variety of scenarios aimed at destabilising operations.

The fictitious Belgian nationals will ultimately be evacuated aboard A400M planes to Châlon Vatry air base in France.

“We must be ready to execute these missions quickly,” explained Special Operations Regiment commander Colonel Frédéric Linotte at a press conference in Mons.

“The strategic environment has deteriorated in recent years, due in particular to coups d'état, revolutions, annexations of territories,” he said. “2021 was marked by an evacuation outside Afghanistan, 2022 by the crisis in Ukraine, 2023 by the crisis in Gaza.”

Opportunity to observe soldiers in action

The public is not forbidden from observing soldiers on exercise, but people are advised to maintain a distance. “If you see that we are on a break, this is perhaps even an opportunity to come and chat with us because we are above all Belgians,” said the colonel.

If any problem related to Operation Storm Tide should arise, a special number is activated: 0800/99.838.

Photo: Storm Tide evacuation exercise 2022 ©Belga/Kristof Van Accom

Written by The Bulletin