Ministry of Defence
Luxembourg's armed forces are relatively modest. They are commensurate to the size of the country and make-up of its population; indeed over 40 percent of permanent residents are foreigners. Under certain conditions and, on a voluntary basis, the Luxembourg army is legally allowed to recruit other interested EU nationals. Currently, other EU nationals make up some 7% of the army strength.
The armed forces consist exclusively of land forces. In a few years time, however, an air component will be added to accommodate the procurement of one A-400M strategic airlift aircraft with its national crews. Luxembourg's percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) devoted to defence has been relatively limited. But it believes that the measure of GDP is not appropriate, since all of the country's defence expenditure is spent out of Luxembourg, which has no real defence industry and consequently little return on investment. Furthermore, due to a very large foreign workforce, the wealth created in the country is not all spent in Luxembourg. Therefore, the measure of GNI (Gross National Income) is seen as a more appropriate and correct way of expressing relative defence efforts, especially if combining this measure with a percentage of return on investment. Nevertheless, Luxembourg's major equipment expenditure as a percentage of defence expenditure for 2008 was the highest of 28 Allies with 32, 2 percent.
The army consists mainly of two deployable Reconnaissance Companies, and a couple of specialized capabilities, namely one Water Purification Platoon, and in the near future, one Explosive Ordnance Disposal/ Improvised Explosive Device Disposal Platoon. These units are allocated to NATO and the EU. There is also a small CBRN decontamination unit for mainly national purposes. Very few units are earmarked for purely national business. Civil-military support is not neglected, but it is done on an ad hoc basis, when deemed necessary.
Luxembourg's defence plans are currently undergoing the most profound and substantial changes since the abolition of military service in 1967. This fundamental reorganization is aimed at providing more and better trained and equipped forces for NATO and EU operations. The country has recently acquired new highly capable reconnaissance vehicles, new high-tech EOD/ IEDD robots and three new sophisticated water purification units that provide a very high quality of drinking water. In the past two decades, Luxembourg' missions have been NATO centric, but it is now trying to achieve a better balance between NATO and EU operations.
The Luxembourg army contributes to NATO's KFOR and ISAF operations. It also contributes to EU operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Bosnia as well as to the UN operation in Lebanon. Luxembourg hosts NAMSA, the biggest single NATO Agency, in the city of Capellen. On a temporary basis, it also hosts the new NAMA Agency, which was created for the Strategic Airlift Capability with its three C-17s. NAMA is collocated with NAMSA. Furthermore, Luxembourg is the NATO registration state for the E-3A component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning fleet. The E-3A component consists of 17 AWACS and three cargo aircraft of the same type (Boeing 707). Since January 2009 Luxembourg offers satellite communication bandwidth to ISAF, via the Luxembourg based company SES/ ASTRA. Shortly, this bandwidth should be more than doubled, in order to help ISAF to significantly overcome existing shortfalls. Under the umbrella of the comprehensive approach, Luxembourg has spent over 28 million EUR in Afghanistan, some 6 M EUR to help to professionally train the Afghan National Army and some 22 M EUR on civilian aid and development.
Besides providing troops for UN, NATO and EU operations, the Luxembourg army educates and trains its soldiers with a view toward their reintegration in civilian life after their voluntary military engagement. Public support for NATO as well as EU operations is generally outstanding. The need to secure peace by building and maintaining stability, sometimes far from Luxembourg's borders, is well understood by the population. Therefore, recruitment for the Army is working very well.
For more information about Luxembourg's military forces visit their national webpage or contact the National Military Representative for more detailed information.
Phone number +32 6544 4330