Luxembourg to send army staff to Iraq, Mozambique
Luxembourg’s army will send a handful of personnel to Iraq and Mozambique to take part in non-combat missions, a parliamentary committee heard on Monday, as the country steps up its participation in joint military alliances.
One person will provide training for security forces in Iraq, where NATO is present to prevent the return of ISIS. The second operation, in Mozambique, will feature a maximum of two teams of two people as part of an EU training mission, with Luxembourg providing satellite expertise.
The military staff will be located in "areas removed from conflict", Defence Minister Bausch told a closed-door meeting of members of parliament from the defence and foreign affairs committees.
The Grand Duchy announced in June it would form a reconnoitering group with Belgium which will see the two countries field ground troops in a joint unit, part of Luxembourg's plans to boost its defence spending on NATO. The joint batallion would be permitted to operate in hostile zones.
Luxembourg spent an amount corresponding to only 0.4% of the size of its economy on defence in 2019 – just one-third of the EU average. The figure represented a drop from what Luxembourg had spent a decade earlier and the country trailed behind only Ireland in 2019 in military spending.
As it aims to catch up, lawmakers approved legislation in February to add 164 soldiers and support personnel to the army and to cover the bulk of the €200 million cost of upgrading NATO's Support and Procurement Agency in Capellen, which is the alliance's main procurement and logistics hub.
Luxembourg also bought an A400M transport plane together with Belgium, which it deployed to Pakistan in August to help the emergency allied evacuation from Afghanistan. It also sent troops to Mali this year to train local soldiers and operate drones to counteract Islamist uprisings, and placed personnel in Estonia to train that country's army in drone techniques.
Under a 2014 agreement, Luxembourg and all other NATO members pledged to increase their defence spending to 2% of GDP. However, progress has been slow; the Grand Duchy targeted a goal of 0.6% by last year and 0.72% by 2024.
The mission in Iraq announced this week will last for two years at a cost of over €140,000 to Luxembourg, Bausch informed committee members. The operation in Mozambique will last two weeks at a cost of €70,000.