SGRS, a crucial intelligence partner for the Belgian Air Force and Allies in Iraq

On 6 February, the Land Component, the Intelligence service (SGRS) of the Belgian armed forces, and the Belgian Special Forces gave a joint conference about the past, ongoing and forthcoming external operations carried on by the Belgian army. Maj.Gen. Johan Peeters gave an overview of the worldwide involvement of Belgian troops, followed by Lt.Gen. aviator Claude Van de Voorde (SGRS) for an in-depth presentation of the various intelligence sources supplied to the F-16 detachment deployed by the Belgian Air Component (Air Force) in Iraq. According to him, intelligence is the first line of the Belgian Defense.

SGRS a crucial intelligence partner for the Belgian Air Force and Allies in Iraq Belgian F-16 aircraft at Helidays 2017 in Belgium (Picture source : Air Recognition)

SGRS (Service Général de Renseignement et de Sécurité) is the intelligence service of the Belgian army. Its personnel is responsible for various missions before the deployment of other soldiers on the theatre of operations. The information patiently collected in the field by the Belgian Special Forces in close connection with Allies includes surveillance (through optics or the use of UAS/UAV), contact making with people in the areas of Belgian missions (local military personnel, civilians, journalists, state representatives, etc.), analysis of the situation in the country (level of tension/dangerousness, forces in presence including Belgian personnel and vehicles, allied personnel and vehicles but also potential enemies), analysis of satellite images (GEOINT), analysis of electronic signals (EW SIGINT), the analysis of digital equipments (EW SIGINT), etc.

To perform all these tasks, SGRS works in close cooperation with its allies among the European Union and NATO, exchanging information, images and reports with them. Some aspects of the work achieved by SGRS are unique in the intelligence landscape. This cooperation is fundamental and enables this service to constantly increase its database of relevant information. In the future, to even more enhance its capabilities and namely exploit the huge amount of information collected, the service is seeking to hire more qualified personnel.

In Iraq, the role of intelligence carried on by the Belgian Special Forces is crucial as a tool to detect potential targets and avoid collateral damage if and when it is bombed by Belgian F-16s or Allied aircraft. No action is ever decided without a previous and sufficient amount of relevant information. Therefore, wherever the Belgian Air Force is deployed, SGRS and Special Forces are never far away. So it goes in Iraq for the current Operation Valiant Phoenix (OVP) in the harsh fighting against ISIL (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Islamic State of Iraq, or even al-Sham). In all the aspect of that long-lasting fighting, the Iraqi armed forces often have the lead.

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