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Luxembourg military forces and national army

This article delves into various aspects surrounding the Luxembourg Army, including its size and composition, insights on joining the armed forces, and the nation's relationship with NATO. So, let us explore the world of Luxembourg's military, where tradition and modernity blend to form a force that ensures the security of the Grand Duchy.

Last time updated
06.05.24

Luxembourg army is the military force of the Grand Duchy. Comprising both ground units and a military transport aircraft, that serves in the air.

The establishment of the Luxembourg military forces trace back to 1981, following the formation of Luxembourg as an independent state. In the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the dissolution of the German Confederation sparked disputes among European powers over the Luxembourg territory. However, a compromise was reached in the Treaty of London in 1867. This treaty solidified Luxembourg's international status and declared the nation perpetually neutral, under the guarantee of the signatory powers.

A neutral position has only lasted until the World War II, when the country was occupied for the second time in its history, and the government-in-exile decided to create a military force so that Luxembourg could fight alongside the allies.

Army in Luxembourg

Today, the Army consists of over 1,128 personnel, with approximately 12% of them being women. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg serves as the Chief of the Army, while effective control lies with the Minister of Defense, operating under the auspices of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Luxembourg Army stands by voluntary commitment of its participants.

Since the abolition of compulsory military service in 1967, individuals who join the army do so willingly, driven by a sense of duty and dedication to their nation's defense. In this section, we will explore the structure of the army, providing insights into its organization, uniforms, and ranks.

Structure of the army

The Luxembourg Army comprises land units and, since 2020, an air unit, which is part of a bi-national Belgian-Luxembourg unit that is equipped with an Airbus A400M transport aircraft. All units operate under the command of the Military Centre located in the Grand-Duc Jean Barracks in Diekirch.

As a landlocked country, Luxembourg does not have a navy.

Let's explore the four combat units that make up the army:

Jointed Forces of EU

This is the first of two infantry companies and represents Luxembourg's contingent within the Eurocorps, commanded by a Belgian unit. The Eurocorps, based in Strasbourg, is a multinational army corp. It consists of six framework nations (France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, and Poland) and five partner nations (Austria, Greece, Italy, Romania, and Turkey).The framework nations make the Eurocorps available to the European Union and NATO, which certified it in 2002 as one of its High Readiness Land Forces. Company A is organized into four platoons: a command platoon, an anti-tank platoon, and two infantry platoons.

Reconversion Service

This company serves as the educational unit of the army. Its mission is to prepare voluntary soldiers for integration into the professional world, optimizing their chances of employment upon completing their service. The company is divided into two sections:
Level B is open to all soldiers after their initial eighteen months of service, this level involves two six-month periods of courses covering general and military subjects. If they achieve a minimum score of 75%, soldiers can progress to the next level.
Level A is open to soldiers who have met the requirements of Level B or have equivalent qualifications from civilian life before enlisting. Soldiers undergo a single six-month period of courses in the same subjects as Level B but with a longer weekly duration.

Command and Instruction

This unit serves as the primary military training unit, offering basic military training, driving instruction, shooting instruction, and physical training. The company is also responsible for the Elite Sports Section of the Army (SSEA), providing high-level athletes who are voluntary soldiers with the opportunity to pursue dual careers.

Cooperation Service

This is the second infantry company, serving as Luxembourg's contingent within NATO, specifically as the reconnaissance company. The organization mirrors that of the Joint Forces, with command, anti-tank, and infantry platoons. It ensures Luxembourg's participation in various missions under the UN, EU, and NATO.

What is the uniform and ranks in the army of Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Army uniforms bear a resemblance to British military attire. They encompass dress, service or garrison, and field uniforms. Dress uniforms are reserved for formal occasions, while service uniforms are worn for daily duty.

What is the uniform and ranks in the army of Luxembourg
Source: Wikipedia

The Army's attire includes both summer and winter service and field uniforms, along with a dress uniform and mess jacket for officers. The winter service dress uniform, made of olive drab wool, features a single-breasted coat with patch pockets, a khaki shirt with a tie, and cuffless trousers. The summer uniform is similar but crafted from light tan material. Combat uniforms, available in olive-green, khaki-drab, or woodland camouflage patterns, are nearly indistinguishable from those formerly worn by the United States Army until the 1990.

How big is the Luxembourg Army

The Luxembourg Army size currently stands at 1,128 soldiers under its command, which is almost 200 more than the average of the past 30 years, hovering around 900 personnel. However, General Steve Thull, the Chief of Staff of the Luxembourg Army, does not feel satisfied with these numbers.

"The military career does not attract enough individuals, and those who do enlist do not serve long enough for their training to be fully utilized. This creates a challenging situation as missions become increasingly numerous and complex and require specialized skills and experienced soldiers. The army needs more personnel with professional specializations and high qualifications".

Ministry of Defense
Ministry of Defense

Another area of concern is the lack of female representation in the armed forces. There is a clear intention to eliminate the perception of the military as a male-dominated profession. Currently, women account for only 12% of the total, this underrepresentation is neither reflective of society nor the actual opportunities available to women within the army's structure, according to the Chief of Staff. Although female recruitment is currently lacking, the army is determined to demonstrate to women that they have a place in the military, whether in uniform, working with computers, or handling armored vehicles.

In response to these challenges, the Minister of Defense, François Bausch, aims to reorganize the career options within the Luxembourg Army to make it an "attractive and modern employer." Both the senior officer and the minister agree on the need to make military careers more appealing. Their joint strategy includes eliminating age limits for military careers, introducing standby allowances for civilian personnel subject to continuous duty, and implementing a new career advancement framework.

Did you know that voluntary military service is one of the options for obtaining Luxembourgish citizenship

If you have served for at least 1 year as a soldier in good and loyal faith, attested by the chief of staff of the Luxembourg Armed Forces, you can apply for Luxembourg nationality, says the law. There is still a list of requirements for the service and procedure itself, but it is an option for some expats in Luxembourg.

The special downloadable brochure provides an overview of the specific cases for acquiring citizenship by option. Volunteering soldiers is the case 10. See more information about it inside.

Documents
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Special downloadable brochure
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Special downloadable brochure
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How to join the Luxembourg Army

Regardless of your education level or diploma, the Luxembourg Army recruits individuals from all fields, including civilian and military careers, IT & cybersecurity, combat, medical professionals, nurses, transportation, logistics, and more.

The Army offers over 115 different professions and specialties, providing diverse opportunities for applicants. The process to join the Luxembourg Army differs for civilian and military positions.

For civilian roles

Сandidates need to possess the required qualifications specified in the job description, submit their application, and undergo a standard selection process similar to that of any other organization

For civilian roles

Candidates need to possess the required qualifications specified in the job description, submit their application, and undergo a standard selection process similar to that of any other organization

You can check the civilian positions on the Luxembourg Army recruitment page.

To participate in the tests for military positions, it is necessary to:

  1. Select the desired day for the tests: tests are held several times a year and the next dates are constantly updated on the voluntary soldier’s recruitment page.
  2. Register by filling out the forms found on the recruitment page.
  3. Send the forms by post to the Bureau d'information de l'Armée (15, boulevard Royal L-2449 Luxembourg) or by email to info@armee.etat.lu.

After submitting the application, the candidate will be summoned for the first selection day which includes psycho-technical and physical tests.

Subsequently, the candidate will be called for a second selection day, during which they will undergo a medical examination, have an interview with a psychologist, and participate in a Luxembourgish language interview before a selection committee that assesses the candidate's motivation.

Requirements for joining the army

There are few things to keep in mind when you want to join the Luxebmourg military forces.

The applicant must:

  • Have Luxembourg nationality or the nationality of a member state of the European Union, andresidet in Luxembourg for at least 36 months prior;
  • Be between 18 and 26 years of age on the day of enlistment;
  • Be free of illnesses or infirmities incompatible with military service;
  • Possess the required intellectual, moral, physical, and psychological qualities;
  • Have demonstrated, before admission to training, an adequate knowledge of the three administrative languages.

What is the salary in the Luxembourg Army

Salaries in the Luxembourg Army vary based on the soldier's rank.

As a soldier, the starting salary is approximately 1,600 euros net. This amount can increase to over 2,000 euros towards the end of a voluntary soldier's career, excluding bonuses.

For higher ranks, the salary gradually increases and can reach up to 6,000 euros per month. When compared to other armies, Luxembourg soldiers are exceptionally well-paid, which is why we see many Belgian soldiers in our army, for instance.

However, in relation to the cost of living in Luxembourg, the salary may not be as attractive.

NATO and Luxembourg

Due to its historical experiences of invasion and occupation, Luxembourg has long understood the value of international cooperation. The country became a staunch advocate for European and Euro-Atlantic projects following World War II, serving as a mediator in disputes between its larger neighbors and contributing to the economic recovery and lasting peace in Europe.

Background

When Luxembourg, along with eleven other states, founded NATO in 1949, the population overwhelmingly aspired to join the alliance and contribute to the unification of Western Europe within a defensive alliance. The memory of American troops liberating the country from the threat remained vivid in the minds of Luxembourgers, and they recognized and supported Luxembourg's solidarity with its allies, accepting both the positive and negative economic and military consequences.

Contributing to a common cause

Despite being the smallest NATO member in terms of land area, Luxembourg has made numerous significant contributions to the Alliance over time, including the provision of high-performance military resources. The country, for example, supplied 3,500 tons of steel for the construction of the NATO headquarters building at Porte Dauphine in Paris.
Then in the late 1970s, the Luxembourg government constructed two massive military depots capable of holding 63,000 tons of combat vehicles, machinery parts, food supplies, clothing, fuel, and other equipment for use by Allied forces in the event of war. The country's main airport has also served as a staging area for troop gatherings during NATO exercises. Luxembourg has consistently extended its hospitality to NATO, hosting several meetings in its capital.

Luxembourg Army is the smallest army in NATO.

faq

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the size of the Luxembourg military forces

How do I join the Luxembourg national army

What support does Luxembourg provide to NATO forces and operations

What is the salary range for soldiers in the Luxembourg Army

Are there opportunities for women to serve in the Luxembourg military

We took photos from these sources: Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández for Unsplash, Ministry of Defense

Authors: Luz
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