Mighty Luxembourg

The smallest military force in NATO with the possible exception of the Icelandic Coast Guard, Luxembourg actually has a rich military tradition going back to 963. An unwilling participant in both World Wars– the country was the first one that the Kaiser’s troops passed through on the way to Belgium and France– it was one of the original 12 states that created NATO in 1949. After all, “Free Luxembourg” troops (whose rank and file included members of the Duchal family) organized in England in WWII had helped liberate the country while others fought as insurgents in the countryside. They were even given their own slice of Germany to occupy post-war as recognition of this.

By 1954, the country of just 300,000 had expanded its military to a full brigade battle group of some 5,200 men and had sent a combat contingent to fight in Korea as part of a Belgo-Luxemburgish battalion.

The below images of the brigade at its peak in the 1970s and 80s– when it was an all-volunteer, professional standing army– show an interesting mix of U.S. M1 helmets and M151 “Mutt” jeeps (with TOW anti-tank launchers) along with Belgian FN FALs and FN MAGs, in largely Dutch/American-pattern uniforms. Similarly, the Dutch, who were fans of the UZI, seem to have passed on their love of the Israeli SMG for support troops.

Further, the duchy became a staging area for the Western Alliance and in 1967 the joint NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) was established in Capellen.

As noted by NATO:

In the late 1970s, for example, the Luxembourg government decided to build two gigantic military storage depots, holding 63,000 tons of combat vehicles, machine parts, food, clothing, fuel, and other equipment that the Allies would need in the event of a war. At a public consultation with the local population before construction began, one man wanted to know whether the tanks would make noise at night. He was interrupted by somebody who shouted: ‘”You found the noise of American tanks sweet enough in 1944”.

Today, while the Lëtzebuerger Arméi has dwindled to just 900 or so full-time troops, they are still professional and have gained much international experience in the past 30 years, sending contingents on worldwide deployments. Donating lots of kit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion last year, the Armei has also committed to training Ukrainian troops in Europe.

In further news from the Duchy, the decoration for completing the longstanding Marche Internationale de Diekirch road march, a permanent and wearable foreign award from the Armed Forces of Luxembourg, has been reauthorized by the U.S. Army for American Solders to accept and wear on their dress uniforms, after some controversy.

Currently, Luxembourg is contributing to the NATO multinational battlegroup in Lithuania with a transport and logistics unit, moving supplies and equipment across the country in support of the battlegroup’s mission. The Luxembourgers work alongside troops from Belgium, Czechia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway, which are currently part of the battlegroup.

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