Text: Adj Jozef Vanden Broeck - Pictures: Adj Jozef Vanden Broeck & Belgian Navy  © sbap 2014

Belyria is in crisis, tension is rising and some armed feats are already a fact. Our nationals are clearly in danger and extraction from these zones has became inescapable to protect our fellow-countrymen. Various para-commando regiments are called upon to insure this protection and to proceed, by any means, to the evacuation of the Belgians. Together with our paratroopers, the Air Force and the Marine also entered the conflict.

This was the scenario of the exercise Storm Tide 2, under the command of the Light Brigade, which took place from November 19 till 21, 2014, involving 2.300 military personal and 300 civilians playing the expats. Several cities and places in the country played a role in this large scale exercise, within the frame of one of the main missions of Defence : evacuating Belgian citizen from conflict- or war zones.

Starting in Ostend where Belgians potentially in danger needed to be evacuated and be disembarked some 3 kilometers from the Ostend airport, secured by Belgian troops. Once there, the civilians were flown to an unknown zone, but most of all a safe zone for them. The disembarkation was dedicated to a light infantry battalion while other units occupied various strategic places in the city. For this exercise, the Marine Component engaged the mine-sweepers M916 Bellis and M921 Lobelia and the Ready Duty Ship Valcke. These vessels allowed 700 troops to disembark on the Ostend beaches and on November 18 the mine-weepers evacuated numerous Belgian citizens to Zeebrugge.

The Air Component deployed 4 C-130H Hercules, NH90's and Agustas A109 to complete the aerial evacuations and also bring in the paratroopers in charge to take over and secure the airports. Kortrijk-Wevelgem saw wartime on November 20 when, at 11.30 local time, 3 C-130 H assaulted the main runway with military personal to take over and secure the airport together with light German armoured vehicles. The latter within the frame of the European collaboration under the aegis of the EUBG (European Battle Group). This first part unfolded in presence of King Philippe I, Steven Vandeput, Minister of Defence, and high ranking military authorities. After the take-over and the securisation of the airport, Belgian citizens were, under heavy protection, evacuated by helicopters. Afterwards the King went to Harelbeke to witness the extraction of hostages out of the Forrestierstadion which then were evacuated by a NH90 to Beauvechain airbase.

This large scale exercise took also place in the Liège and Maastricht region, allowing the Belgian military personal to perfect their training and to be ready and able to intervene wherever necessary in the world. Quite realistic regarding the regular events in Africa and more particularly in Congo, well-known to our paratroopers.
After this very intense week for the Belgian troops, exercise Storm Tide 2 ended and every phase is now being evaluated to bring forward the strong assets and work on the weaker parts as to constantly enhance the capabilities of our troops and never leave the life's of our fellow-countrymen haphazardly.

November 18th...Oostende
Landing forces on the way to the coast
 (Courtesy Belgian Navy)
The operation was in collaboration with the German forces
(Courtesy Belgian Navy)
The landing zone (Courtesy Belgian Navy) (Courtesy Belgian Navy)
The civil people are evacuated and set on board the M921 Lobelia
(Courtesy Belgian Navy)
The M916 Bellis was also involved in the operation
(Courtesy Belgian Navy)
Ready Duty Ship A950 Valcke (Courtesy Belgian Navy) Evacuated via fast pneumatic boats (Courtesy Belgian Navy)
Operation and navigation planning (Courtesy Belgian Navy) All Belgian forces were involved in this operation (Courtesy Belgian Navy)
November 19th...Oostende Airport
The 15th Transport Wing deployed at Oostend Airport The CH-07
The Para-Commandos are ready for the next operation
Save the civilian is the leitmotiv!
Coordination between the loadmaster and the para's
Embarcation In total four C-130H were involved
The CH-04
On taxi Take off
The CH-05 back from mission

Another group preparing for their task
The CH-11 Technical intervention
The four ship on the tarmac
Second wave of the day
Refueling
Here we go...they are waiting for us!
Agusta A109 intervention on the airport
Evacuation Attack against the airfield by the rebels
The H-25 at landing
Another evacuation
Take off in the late evening...the day is over
November 20th...Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport
Working visit of King Philippe I to the operation
Material show Assault landing of the task force
Taking position on the airfield
Wiesel 1 light airborne armoured fighting vehicle 20mm gun In cooperation with the German's, the airfield is securised
Para-Commando's with a mortar
Evacuation of civilian from the airfield Under high protection
Arrival of the NH-90 for the evacuation
Few seconds later everybody was on board and the helicopter took off
The VIP guest and authorities watching the evacuation
Rebels under control
Fictive other place, the civilian are in security now Back for another mission
King Philippe I left the airfield for another visit in Harelbeke, Mister Steven Vandeput MOD and Lt Gen Avi Claude Vande Voorde signing the golden book
The Military Police was also present in the operation...

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