Armed forces of the Netherlands


Armed forces of the Netherlands
Military of Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Founded 1572
Service branches Koninklijke Landmacht
Koninklijke Marine
Koninklijke Luchtmacht
Koninklijke Marechaussee
Leadership
Supreme Command Government of the Netherlands
Minister of Defence Hans Hillen
Chief of Defence General Peter van Uhm
Manpower
Military age 17 [1]
Available for
military service
3,950,825, age 20 (2008 est.)
Fit for
military service
3,224,790, age 20 (2008 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
123,584 (2008 est.)
Active personnel 61,130 (77th)
Expenditures
Budget €8,525,000.000 (11.2 billion USD) (2009)
Percent of GDP 1.65% (2009)

The Armed forces of the Netherlands consist of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The service branches consist of:

  • Koninklijke Landmacht (KL), Royal Netherlands Army.
  • Koninklijke Marine (KM), Royal Netherlands Navy (Naval Air Service) and Korps Mariniers (Marine Corps).
  • Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), Royal Netherlands Air Force.
  • Koninklijke Marechaussee (KMar), Royal Military Constabulary.

In addition, within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, there are small local conscript forces on the islands of Aruba (Arumil) and Curaçao (Antmil). These operate under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Navy and Marines.

The military ranks of the Dutch armed forces have similarities with British and U.S. military ranks. The highest-ranking officer in the Dutch military is the Chief of the Netherlands Defence Staff, who is usually (but not necessarily) a four-star officer (NATO OF-9).

Contents

Foundation in law and purpose

The Dutch armed forces exist by declaration in the constitution of the Netherlands. Article 97 of this constitution determines that the armed forces exist

  • to defend the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its interests in the world; and
  • to protect and advance the international rule of law.

Interestingly, this means that the role and responsibility of the Dutch military in international stability and peacekeeping is constitutionally determined.

The same article of the constitution determines that supreme command of the Dutch military resides with the government of the Netherlands. This has been the case since the constitution was changed in 1983; before then, supreme command of the armed forces of The Netherlands was held by the King of The Netherlands.

In addition, a second major change in military affairs was made in 2003. Before then, all citizens of The Netherlands were tasked with the defense of the kingdom. In keeping with the move to a professional military, this article was dropped.

Military personnel

The Netherlands' military is currently a fully professional military. Conscription in the Netherlands was suspended in 1996 with the exception of Aruba and Curaçao.[2] All military branches and specialties, except for the submarine service and the Marine Corps, are open to female recruits.

The Korps Commandotroepen – the Special Operations Force of the Netherlands Army – is open to women, but because of the extremely high physical demands for initial training it is found impossible for women to become commandos. The Dutch Ministry of Defence employs almost 70,000 personnel, including both civilian and military personnel.

The Dutch military is part of the NATO militaries and therefore conforms to the structure of a NATO military. It also uses conforming rank structures. All Dutch military personnel, officers and enlisted personnel, are required to take an oath of allegiance. This oath is recorded in the law on General Military Personnel Regulations (Algemeen Militair Ambtenarenreglement) in Article 126a.

Unionized military

Unlike many military organizations, Dutch military members are allowed to form and join unions. There are four of these unions:Algemene Federatie van Militair Personeel (AFMP, General Federation of Military Personnel), which was recognized by the Dutch government in 1966. The AFMP is a member of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions, FNV; Algemeen Christelijke Organisatie van Militairen (ACOM, General Christian Organisation for Military Personnel). The ACOM is a member of the Dutch Christian National Trade Union, CNV; Federatie van Nederlandse Officieren en Middelbaar en Hoger Burgerpersoneel bij Defensie (FVNO/MHB, Federation of Dutch Officers and Middle- and Seniorlevel Civilian Personnel), which was recognized by the Dutch government in 2004. The FVNO/MHB is a member of the Dutch confederation of groups of middle and senior staffmembers; Vakbond voor Defensiepersoneel VBM/NOV (VBM/NOV, Union for Defence Personnel). All unions represent both current and retired military personnel and/or civilian personnel.

Budget rise

The budget for the military in 2007 was €7.7 billion. Several political parties have suggested raising the military expenditure so that it is closer to the NATO standard for military expenditures, which is 2.0% of the GDP. For 2008 there is a budget increase of around €500 million, bringing the budget in 2008 to €8.2 billion. With the agreement to stay in Afghanistan until 2010, another €850 million will be added to the budget over the next years, to compete with the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. The budget for 2009 was €8.5 billion.

Contemporary campaigns

Since the 1990s, the Dutch military has been involved in four major military campaigns:

Afghanistan

As part of Operation Enduring Freedom as a response to those attacks, the Netherlands deployed aircraft as part of the European Participating Air Force (EPAF) in support of ground operations in Afghanistan as well as Dutch naval frigates to police the waters of the Middle East/Indian Ocean. The Netherlands deployed further troops and helicopters to Afghanistan in 2006 as part of a new security operation in the south of the country.[3] Dutch ground and air forces totalled almost 2,000 personnel during 2006, taking part in combat operations alongside British and Canadian forces as part of NATO's ISAF force in the south.

The Netherlands announced in December 2007 that it would begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, which were mainly in Uruzgan Province, in July 2010. "I do not have assurances that other countries will be ready to replace Netherlands troops, but I am certain that Dutch troops will leave in 2010," Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said. "I indicated that in writing ... to the NATO secretary general, who has confirmed it."[4] In January 2009, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende reiterated that the 1,600 Dutch troops in Afghanistan would end their mission in 2010, saying "We will stop in Uruzgan in 2010." He ruled out the possibility of the Netherlands keeping its troops in Afghanistan past 2010 with any force comparable to its former deployment.[5]

In December 2009, reacting to three requests received from the side of the U.S. by Vice President Biden, the special American representative to Afghanistan Holbrooke and Secretary of State Clinton and a request by Secretary General of NATO Rasmussen as well, the Dutch government announced that the final decision on the continuation of the mission in Uruzgan would be on its agenda in March 2010. Two ministers from the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), Koenders (Development Aid) and Bos (Finance and Vice PM) in the meantime pleaded termination, which was also the opinion of the majority of the Dutch parliament.[6][7][8][9]

On December 10, 2009, the Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the government was exploring areas elsewhere in Afghanistan to set up a new mission. The northern province of Kunduz was mentioned, where at the moment German and Belgian troops were deployed. On December 9, allegedly PM Balkenende (CDA), the vice-PM's Bos (PvdA) and Rouvoet (ChristenUnie) and the three involved ministers Verhagen (CDA, Foreign Affairs), Van Middelkoop (ChristenUnie, Defense) and Koenders (PvdA, (Development Aid) secretly discussed the future Dutch engagement in Afghanistan, together with Commander of the Forces general Van Uhm.[10][11]

In early February 2010, the disagreement between the PvdA on the one hand and CDA and ChristenUnie on the other about a request from NATO, by improper channels, for a renewed Dutch commitment in Afghanistan, came to a head. CDA and ChristenUnie wanted the freedom to consider this request—in spite of the decisions by the Minister of Defence and the votes in Parliament—whereas PvdA and a majority of the parties in the Dutch parliament stood by the earlier decision and refused any consideration of further Dutch involvement in Afghanistan. Thus, on February 20, the PvdA had no choice but to resign their ministers from the Cabinet, leading to a collapse of the Dutch government. As a result, the NATO request could not be considered and Dutch troops withdrew later in 2010 according to the schedule agreed in 2007.[12]

On August 1, 2010 the Dutch military formally declared its withdrawal from its four-year mission in Afghanistan; most soldiers are expected to be back in the Netherlands by September, excepting those working on the reset, redistribution and repatriation of materiel and supplies. The AH-64 Apache and F-16 squadron will remain longer in Afghanistan to support the withdrawal process and transports.[13] The Dutch contingent has been replaced by soldiers from the U.S., Australia, Slovakia, and Singapore.

References

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