Caught short, Belgian army borrows American body armor

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium borrowed American body armor to protect troops ordered onto the streets of Brussels this week to confront a perceived threat from Islamic State to mount attacks similar to those in Paris.

Explaining that it lacked modern lightweight armor for all the troops patrolling outside metro stations and other key sites in the capital, the Belgian armed forces said in a statement on Thursday that they had borrowed an unspecified number of bullet-proof vests from U.S. military installations in Belgium.

There was enough older, heavier body armor for all soldiers deployed in Brussels but its weight made it less practical: "The American authorities are showing, through this loan of supplies, their support for our country ... in these difficult times," the armed forces added.

The Belgium government and security services have faced accusations at home and abroad for not devoting enough resources to combating Islamist radicals and preparing for possible attacks -- criticisms the authorities reject.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Andrew Heavens)