Extensive cooperation between German and Dutch armed forces

The Netherlands and Germany are to expand their existing military cooperation. Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and her German counterpart Thomas de Maizière signed a Declaration of Intent to that effect in Germany today.

Integration of 11 Airmobile Brigade

The most eye-catching example of this greater cooperation is the integration of 11 Airmobile Brigade and the German Division Schnelle Kräfte (DSK). The latter unit will be established in Germany in 2014. The integration of the Dutch and German units is to lead to a common operating method and ease of deployment, among other things. A combined staff element, to be based in Germany, will direct the unit. The troops will, however, remain based at their current locations.

Crucial importance

At the Berlin Strategy Conference, which was an initiative by an interest group from the German defence industry, Mrs Hennis spoke of the great importance of more European military cooperation. “Not only because financial austerity will remain an issue for all of us in the years to come. But also if we want to prevent Europe from becoming irrelevant and if we want the United States to remain the indispensable partner in European security it has been for over 65 years. It is for these reasons that we must take more responsibility for our own security. We have to carry our share of the burden, including the risks. Europe can only deal with current and emerging threats, if we work together.”

Courage, leadership and commitment

She told her audience that there will not be a European or NATO army. “What we do need is courage, leadership and long-term commitment. This requires both political and military cooperation. You need armed forces that operate according to the same standards and military leaders who know one another. I have to say, though, that our armed forces are – in general – remarkably well aware of this notion. It is at the political level rather, that we find obstacles to closer cooperation. Against that background, I consider the Declaration of Intent (…) of the utmost importance.”

Ground-based air and missile defence

In addition to the integration of the Airmobile Brigade and the German DSK, our ground-based air and missile defence units are also to expand their cooperation. The existing initiatives have been in place for years and stem from the use of the same systems (Patriots) and the combined deployment of those systems, as is currently taking place in Turkey. Eventually, these defence units will also have a combined staff.

Submarine cooperation

In order to achieve economies of scale and retain valuable knowledge in the area of submarine construction, the Netherlands and Germany are looking to work together in that area as well. As with the previously mentioned forms of cooperation, this cooperation will lead to more effective use of scarce and expensive capabilities and assets. Training and instruction will be done together and the countries will make use of each other’s instruction facilities.

During the working visit, Mr De Maizière and Mrs Hennis also discussed the situation in Syria and the combined operations in Turkey and Afghanistan: the Patriot mission and the police training mission in Kunduz.