Armed forces: charting a steady course in turbulent times

With a view to the changing security situation and the higher demands being made of the armed forces, the government is focusing on further enhancing their basic readiness levels. This is another key step in the government’s multi-year outlook. Defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and foreign minister Bert Koenders have announced this in a letter to the House of Representatives, responding to a motion submitted last year by the Calvinist (SGP) parliamentary party leader Kees van der Staaij and others. In the letter, the government makes clear that it intends to continue charting a new course with regard to defence. The financial consequences for the 2016 budget will be announced on Budget Day, as will details of the future funding of deployments for crisis management operations.

‘We must expect a prolonged period of tension and instability in both nearby and distant regions,’ say the ministers. Resolving and preventing international conflicts in the regions surrounding us is in the Netherlands’ interests, as international crisis situations can have a direct impact on our national security. ‘Given the nature of current national and international security issues, the government considers it necessary to strengthen the armed forces. In addition we must pursue an active foreign policy by being actively involved in the world around us,’ the two ministers say in their letter.

International developments require continued higher levels of readiness, mobility and deployability among military units. This in turn affects the required stock levels for spare parts and ammunition. Extra training and instruction capacity is also needed to improve the proficiency of operational units (including training for operations at the high end of the spectrum of force).

The government considers an active foreign, security and defence policy to be of fundamental importance to our strategic interests, our freedoms and our values. A comprehensive approach is key in this respect. As a member state of both NATO and the EU, the Netherlands is expected to make a significant contribution, military as well as civilian. The government will not shirk these responsibilities.