Open Access

Boots on the streets: a “policization” of the armed forces as the new normal?


The article analyses how the boundaries of postmodern military organizations are changing and how these evolutions affect their relations with the civilian society. The case of the Belgian Defence and the deployment of its military personnel in the streets are used as a case study to illustrate this transformation. Since January 2015, in response to the imminent terrorist threat in Belgium, military units have been deployed in support of the police to monitor sensitive areas, guard buildings and patrol the streets. The article analyses, first, how the population reacted to these new “proximity” roles and, second, the impact of these homeland deployments on the expeditionary readiness of the Belgian Defence and its capacity to carry out its primary missions.

The empirical analyses are, based on several quantitative and qualitative surveys, carried out among the Belgian population and the personnel of the Belgian Defence. In particular, the impact of the evolution of the public’s support over time on the blurring of the traditional roles of the military and the use of the military for internal security tasks is analysed.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
History, Topics in History, Military History, Social Sciences, Political Science, Military Policy