Belgium Supports Rapid Intervention Brigade Training in the DRC: A Collaborative Effort Toward Strengthening Military Capabilities

On March 7, 2024, Belgium has reaffirmed its commitment to bolstering the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) military capabilities through various support initiatives, including the formation of a rapid intervention brigade within the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). This announcement was made following a meeting between the Belgian Ambassador to the DRC, Roxane de Bilderling, and the DRC’s Deputy Prime Minister of Defense, Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The collaboration, part of a broader bilateral partnership between Belgium and the DRC, aims to enhance the operational readiness of the FARDC. Ambassador de Bilderling highlighted the extensive discussions on the bilateral partnership, emphasizing Belgium’s support through a series of measures and support programs. Among the initiatives is the training of a rapid reaction brigade in Kindu, Maniema province. Remarkably, the first battalion of this brigade is already operational in the eastern part of the country, with another batch concluding their training in Kindu.

In addition to the brigade training, Belgium is also contributing to the reinforcement of the military academy in Kananga, a long-standing institution in the Belgium-DRC partnership. Recent efforts include rekindling exchanges with the Royal Military Academy in Belgium. The Commander of the Royal Military Academy recently visited the DRC, accompanied by Ambassador de Bilderling, to assess the Kananga academy’s needs and discuss ways to enhance its role in strengthening the FARDC.

The training mission in Kindu, which follows the “Train the Trainers” (TtT) principle, aims to refresh the skills of Congolese instructors from the 31st Brigade of Rapid Reaction Units (URR), an elite unit trained by Belgium from 2008 to 2017. A small contingent of Belgian military personnel has been deployed in Kindu since April 2022 to facilitate this training, under a longstanding Belgium-Congo Military Partnership Program (PPM) dating back to the 2000s. The mission is set to conclude by the end of the year and has recently been taken over by the 3rd Battalion of Paratroopers from Tielen (Antwerp province), following the 2nd Commando Battalion from Flawinne (Namur), as reported by the Belgian military.