Reconsider travel to Belgium due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Belgium due to terrorism.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Belgium due to COVID-19.
Belgium has resumed most transportation options, (including airport operations and re-opening of borders) and business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within Belgium. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Belgium.
Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Belgium. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting, music, and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.
Read the country information page.
If you decide to travel to the Belgium:
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
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- Foreign Assistance: Actions Needed to Help Ensure Quality and Sustainability of USAID Road in IndonesiaBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found From August 2005 to September 2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded five contracts to reconstruct a major coastal road in Aceh Province, Indonesia. Three of the contracts were for construction, one contract was for design and supervision, and one contract was for project management. Several factors delayed the roads completion and increased costs. For example, according to USAID, when one contractor did not make acceptable progress, the agency reduced the scope of work, terminated construction of an 8-mile road section, and hired another contractor to complete the section. Other factors included the Indonesian governments difficulty in acquiring land for the road and local opposition to the new road alignment. USAID took several actions to ensure quality in the roads design and construction. For example, USAID hired an experienced, U.S.-registered professional engineer as Project Manager and hired a U.S.-based engineering firm to design the road and supervise most construction. USAID also required contractors to remain liable for any quality defects for 1 year after completing road sections. In addition, USAID required the Project Manager and the engineering firm to perform routine inspections, including final inspections when the warranties ended. Some inspections revealed poor-quality work that the contractors corrected. However, the engineering firms and Project Managers contracts ended in March 2012 and April 2012, respectively, leaving no qualified staff to inspect around 50 milesmore than half of the completed roadstill under warranty. USAID told GAO it is considering rehiring the Project Manager on an intermittent basis, but USAID has not finalized this arrangement and has no mechanism to ensure quality in these sections. USAID also took several actions to help ensure the roads sustainability, such as designing it to withstand heavy weights and providing a maintenance plan and equipment to the Indonesian Directorate General of Highways. However, various factors could affect the roads sustainability for its intended 10-year design life. For example, according to USAID and Indonesian officials, the Directorate lacks resources needed to maintain the road. Also, according to USAID, the Indonesian government has not taken certain actions, such as using portable scales to prevent overweight vehicles that could cause pavement failure and prohibiting construction in the road right-of-way that could obstruct drainage. Why GAO Did This Study In December 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a major tsunami that devastated several countries, affecting Indonesia most severely. In May 2005, Congress appropriated $908 million for aid to the affected countries. USAID budgeted $245 million of this amount to rehabilitate and construct a 150-mile paved coastal road in Aceh Province, Indonesia, with a planned completion date of September 2009. After reducing the projects scope, USAID completed a 91-mile road in April 2012 at an estimated cost of $256 million. GAO was asked to (1) describe USAIDs construction operations as well as factors that delayed the roads completion, (2) assess USAIDs efforts to ensure the roads quality, and (3) examine factors that could affect the roads sustainability. GAO reviewed USAID documents, interviewed USAID and Indonesian officials, and traveled the entire length of the road.[Read More…]
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- Defense Transportation: DOD Can Better Leverage Existing Contested Mobility Studies and Improve TrainingBy Sam NewsFebruary 26, 2021From 2016 through 2019, the Department of Defense (DOD) conducted or sponsored at least 11 classified or sensitive studies on contested mobility— the ability of the U.S. military to transport equipment and personnel in a contested operational environment. The studies resulted in more than 50 recommendations, and DOD officials stated they believed that some of the recommendations had been implemented. However, officials did not know the exact disposition of the recommendations, as they are not actively tracking implementation activities. Further, no single DOD oversight entity evaluated the studies' recommendations and tracked implementation across the department. As a result, DOD may be missing an opportunity to leverage existing knowledge on mobility in contested environments across organizations, and strengthen its mobility efforts for major conflicts as envisioned in the National Defense Strategy. DOD has updated aspects of wargame exercises and mobility training to prepare for a contested environment, but has not updated training for the surge sealift fleet—ships owned by DOD and the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) and crewed by contracted mariners. These crews are primarily trained and qualified to operate the ship, but receive limited contested mobility training. While DOD has updated air mobility training and other aspects of mobility training, sealift crew training requirements have not been updated by DOD and MARAD to reflect contested environment concerns because DOD has not conducted an evaluation of such training. Since sealift is the means by which the majority of military equipment would be transported during a major conflict, it is important that crews be trained appropriately for contested mobility to help ensure that ships safely reach their destinations and complete their missions. C-17 Performing Defense Maneuvers DOD has begun to mitigate contested environment challenges through improved technology and related initiatives. The Navy is acquiring improved technologies to deploy on surge sealift ships and replacement ships. The Air Force is equipping current mobility aircraft (see photo above) with additional defensive technologies and planning for the development of future replacement aircraft. According to U.S. Transportation Command, the command is revising its contracts with commercial partners to address cyber threats, and funding research and development projects that address contested mobility concerns. Many of these efforts are nascent and will take years to be put in place. China and Russia are strengthening their militaries to neutralize U.S. strengths, including mobility—the ability of U.S. military airlift and air refueling aircraft and sealift ships to rapidly move equipment and personnel from the United States to locations abroad to support DOD missions. Senate Report 116-48 included a provision for GAO to review DOD's ability to operate in a contested mobility environment. This report assesses the extent to which DOD has studied contested mobility and tracked the implementation of study recommendations, assesses the extent to which DOD has revised its training to incorporate contested mobility challenges, and describes the technologies that DOD uses to mitigate contested mobility challenges. GAO identified contested mobility studies conducted or sponsored by DOD; evaluated DOD's processes for monitoring implementation of study recommendations; analyzed training and exercise documents from DOD combatant commands, the Air Force, and the Navy; and reviewed DOD plans for technological improvements to its mobility forces. GAO recommends that DOD designate an oversight entity to track the implementation of study recommendations, and that DOD and MARAD evaluate and update sealift training. DOD and the Department of Transportation concurred or partially concurred with each recommendation. GAO believes each recommendation should be fully implemented, as discussed in the report. For more information, contact Cary Russell at (202) 512-5431 or RussellC@gao.gov.[Read More…]
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- Coast Guard: Actions Needed to Better Manage Shore InfrastructureBy Sam NewsNovember 16, 2021What GAO Found In 2019, GAO found that almost half of the Coast Guard's shore infrastructure was past its service life and the extent of costs to address its maintenance and recapitalization (major renovations) project backlogs may be understated. GAO also found that Coast Guard data showed at least $2.6 billion in costs to address its backlogs for its $18 billion portfolio of shore infrastructure. The Coast Guard has taken initial steps toward improving how it manages its infrastructure. For example, in 2019 GAO found weaknesses in how the Coast Guard prioritized shore infrastructure investments. GAO recommended that it incorporate resilience—the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, and recover from, or successfully adapt to adverse events—into its risk management. In 2021, the Coast Guard revised how it prioritizes infrastructure investments, including incorporating resilience into planning by, for example, identifying the infrastructure most critical to mission operations. The Coast Guard continues to face challenges in ensuring that its infrastructure investments meet mission and user needs. For example, in 2019 GAO found that the Coast Guard has not provided accurate information to Congress about its requirements-based budget targets for shore infrastructure in its budget requests and its project backlogs. Specifically, Coast Guard recapitalization targets for shore assets were at least $290 million annually, but its budget requests for fiscal years 2012 through 2021 ranged from about $5 million to about $99 million annually (see figure). GAO previously recommended that the Coast Guard include supporting details about competing project alternatives and report trade-offs in congressional budget requests and related reports. The Coast Guard agreed with GAO's recommendation. GAO continues to follow up on the status of the Coast Guard's actions in response to this and other prior GAO recommendations aimed at improving the Coast Guard's management of its infrastructure. Allotments for Shore Infrastructure, Amount Requested, and Shore Infrastructure Requirements-based Budget as Determined by the U.S. Coast Guard, Fiscal Years 2012 through 2021 Why GAO Did This Study The Coast Guard, within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), owns or leases more than 20,000 shore facilities—such as piers, boat stations, air stations, runways, and housing units—at more than 2,700 locations. This statement addresses (1) the condition of Coast Guard infrastructure, (2) Coast Guard actions to improve management of its shore infrastructure, and (3) challenges for the Coast Guard to address. This statement is based primarily on four GAO products issued from October 2017 through July 2020 and updates as of October 2021 on actions the Coast Guard has taken to address recommendations from these reports. GAO analyzed relevant Coast Guard documents and management processes, and interviewed Coast Guard officials. To conduct updates, GAO also reviewed Coast Guard budget information and other documentation, and interviewed officials on actions taken to implement prior GAO recommendations.[Read More…]
- COVID-19: DOD Has Focused on Strategy and Oversight to Protect Military Servicemember HealthBy Sam NewsJune 4, 2021What GAO Found Since January 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) has developed a strategy to protect the health of military servicemembers from COVID-19, with a goal of minimizing risks while continuing operations. The strategy tailors protection measures to local conditions and risks to health and force readiness. GAO found that DOD's strategy applies several key considerations. DOD Application of Key Considerations to Protect Servicemembers from COVID-19 DOD officials oversee the implementation of the department's COVID-19 health protection strategy for servicemembers through: Sustained leadership attention. In January 2020, the Secretary of Defense initiated COVID-19 planning and established a senior task force to oversee the response. Combatant command and installation officials continuously evaluate regional and local implementation and perform compliance checks. Notwithstanding these efforts, DOD officials stated that they expect some limited incidents of personnel not following protocols. Data monitoring. Senior leaders and local commanders assess data on cases, community spread, and testing, among other metrics, to inform strategy implementation and assess its effectiveness. Lessons learned analyses. While these analyses are ongoing as the pandemic continues, DOD has implemented mitigations to address some challenges identified, such as a new system to collect more timely and specific COVID-19 case data. DOD has research and development projects underway to advance COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics and improve detection methods. DOD's investments include many projects that have specific applications for servicemembers, such as pre- and postexposure prophylactic treatments to prevent the onset of the disease. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic poses risks to the health of U.S. servicemembers. Protecting forces from COVID-19 is therefore essential to DOD's ability to defend the United States, maintain warfighting readiness, and support the whole-of-government response to the pandemic. To help facilitate the COVID-19 pandemic response, Congress appropriated about $10.5 billion to DOD through the CARES Act. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight related to the pandemic. GAO was also asked to examine the military health system response to COVID-19. This report examines, in regard to COVID-19, DOD's (1) strategy for protecting military servicemember health, (2) oversight of its strategy, and (3) research and development projects for vaccines, therapeutics, and testing. GAO reviewed guidance and plans for health protection and pandemic response that comprise DOD's strategy, and evaluated alignment of the strategy with key considerations from prior GAO work on pandemic preparedness. To identify oversight efforts, GAO reviewed DOD briefings on the progress of health protection measures, and analyzed 2020 DOD data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and testing. GAO also interviewed DOD leaders, officials from the military department medical organizations, combatant commands, and four military medical treatment facilities selected on the basis of military department and location. For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 512-3604 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
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- Defense Management: Improved Planning, Training, and Interagency Collaboration Could Strengthen DOD’s Efforts in AfricaBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021When the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) became fully operational in 2008, it inherited well over 100 activities, missions, programs, and exercises from other Department of Defense (DOD) organizations. AFRICOM initially conducted these inherited activities with little change. However, as AFRICOM has matured, it has begun planning and prioritizing activities with its four military service components, special operations command, and task force. Some activities represent a shift from traditional warfighting, requiring collaboration with the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other interagency partners. GAO's prior work has identified critical steps and practices that help agencies to achieve success. For this report, GAO was asked to assess AFRICOM in five areas with respect to activity planning and implementation. To do so, GAO analyzed DOD and AFRICOM guidance; observed portions of AFRICOM activities; interviewed officials in Europe and Africa; and obtained perspectives from interagency officials, including those at 22 U.S. embassies in Africa.AFRICOM has made progress in developing strategies and engaging interagency partners, and could advance DOD's effort to strengthen the capacity of partner nations in Africa. However, AFRICOM still faces challenges in five areas related to activity planning and implementation. Overcoming these challenges would help AFRICOM with future planning, foster stability and security through improved relationships with African nations, and maximize its effect on the continent. (1) Strategic Planning. AFRICOM has created overarching strategies and led planning meetings, but many specific plans to guide activities have not yet been finalized. For example, AFRICOM has developed a theater strategy and campaign plan but has not completed detailed plans to support its objectives. Also, some priorities of its military service components, special operations command, and task force overlap or differ from each other and from AFRICOM's priorities. Completing plans will help AFRICOM determine whether priorities are aligned across the command and ensure that efforts are appropriate, complementary, and comprehensive. (2) Measuring Effects. AFRICOM is generally not measuring long-term effects of activities. While some capacity-building activities appear to support its mission, federal officials expressed concern that others--such as sponsoring a news Web site in an African region sensitive to the military's presence--may have unintended effects. Without assessing activities, AFRICOM lacks information to evaluate their effectiveness, make informed future planning decisions, and allocate resources. (3) Applying Funds. Some AFRICOM staff have difficulty applying funding sources to activities. DOD has stated that security assistance efforts are constrained by a patchwork of authorities. Limited understanding of various funding sources for activities has resulted in some delayed activities, funds potentially not being used effectively, and African participants being excluded from some activities. (4) Interagency Collaboration. AFRICOM has been coordinating with partners from other federal agencies. As of June 2010, AFRICOM had embedded 27 interagency officials in its headquarters and had 17 offices at U.S. embassies in Africa. However, the command has not fully integrated interagency perspectives early in activity planning or leveraged some embedded interagency staff for their expertise. (5) Building Expertise. AFRICOM staff have made some cultural missteps because they do not fully understand local African customs and may unintentionally burden embassies that must respond to AFRICOM's requests for assistance with activities. Without greater knowledge of these issues, AFRICOM may continue to face difficulties maximizing resources with embassy personnel and building relations with African nations. GAO recommends that AFRICOM complete its strategic plans, conduct long-term activity assessments, fully integrate interagency personnel into activity planning, and develop training to build staff expertise. DOD agreed with the recommendations.[Read More…]
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