Integration ceremony of the Airmobile Brigade and the Rapid Forces Division

Address by the Netherlands Minister of Defence J. A. Hennis-Plasschaert on the occasion of the integration ceremony of the Airmobile Brigade and the Rapid Forces Division (Division Schnelle Kräfte) on 12 June 2014 in Stadtallendorf, Germany.

Sehr geehrte Frau Bundesministerin,
Sehr geehrte Mitglieder des Bundestages,
Geachte leden van de Eerste en Tweede Kamer,
Soldatinnen und Soldaten der Division Schnelle Kräfte,

Mannen en vrouwen van de luchtmobiele brigade,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have just witnessed a historic moment!

A new step in our cooperation: the integration of two army units.

General Kasdorf, General De Kruif, Assembled soldiers,

Congratulations on this milestone!
You have had to do much groundbreaking work – with tangible results.

With this step, we have taken our cooperation to a new level.
With this step, we are strengthening our fighting power.
And with this step, we are enhancing our capacity to act.

I wish you all great success!

Ladies and gentlemen,

The ties between our countries are close.
We tend to take our good relationship for granted.
But if you look closer, you will see how fascinating and exciting our cooperation is...
You will see the many areas in which the Germans and the Dutch are joining forces.

We seek each other's company and we like visiting each other, as is befitting of good neighbours.

We complement each other, and we respect and appreciate each other's qualities.

Also in the military sphere.
Or perhaps I should say particularly in the military sphere.

The first steps in our military cooperation were taken in the 1960s. With the establishment of the First German-Netherlands Corps twenty years ago now, that cooperation took on a new dimension.

We have cooperated in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Afghanistan.
And we are now working together on the Patriot mission in Turkey and in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In order to take our cooperation to an even higher level, we signed a Declaration of Intent one year ago.

The integration of the Airmobile Brigade into the Division Schnelle Kräfte is one of the first outcomes of this process.

I greatly appreciate that we are able to mark this occasion in the presence of Members of Parliament, our people's representatives...
Because the involvement of our national parliaments is of enormous value.
In fact, I consider the involvement of our parliamentarians to be absolutely crucial.

The ultimate goal of our cooperation?

The joint planning and execution of missions!

In 2016, the combined staff of the division must be operational.
From 2018, the entire division must be ready to carry out operations.

This will be an exciting and challenging process.

We should keep in mind that in order to be — and to remain — predictable and reliable partners, we must from time and time, and on a regular basis, hold a political debate on this subject.
Between the governments, between the government and the parliament, but also between the national parliaments of our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The further enhancement of our capacity to act - and thus our continuing military cooperation - is urgently needed.
We must remain capable of responding effectively to global developments.

For we are confronted with diffuse threats and risks, some of them close to our European borders,
others further away.
Conflicts that affect, or could affect us, directly or indirectly.

The décor of the world stage is changing with dizzying speed.
Civil war, terrorism, humanitarian crises...

In the international balance of power, uncertainty is really the only constant factor.
Future military missions will not become less demanding or less diverse.
This is the reason we still need a powerful and responsive military.

And this is what we help to create through our far-reaching military cooperation.

I am convinced that our cooperation serves our broader security interests.

The question is not whether we should cooperate, but rather how we should go about it.

And, as already mentioned, we have now come to a point where we can - and must - take this
cooperation to a new level.

Assembled soldiers,

This will be a long-term process in which we can learn a great deal from each other.
And remember: the match is not over until the referee whistles for full time.
I have full confidence that you will make this a success!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we have given the green light to a crucial step forward.
The challenge is to grasp the many opportunities that are sure to arise in the coming years.

One thing is certain: in our eyes, you are already a winning team!