The Ministery of Defence is going to take major steps to make the Netherlands stronger, Europe safer and NATO more powerful. The ‘Defence Memorandum 2022’, which was presented on the 1st of June, explains how. For example:
- Stocks of ammunition, fuel and equipment are to be increased.
- Improved conditions of employment for personnel.
- Firepower on land, at sea and in the air will be increased. Panzer howitzers and long-range missiles for frigates and submarines are being added.
- A battalion of 11 Air Mobile Brigade is being transformed into a support unit for special operations forces. A helicopter unit will also be set up for these elite units.
- Six extra F-35s will be added. The entire fleet will receive more modern weapons.
- The number of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft (MQ-9 Reaper) will double to 8. And they will be armed.
- There will be a military police squadron to carry out military police duties under war conditions.
Investments, renewals and maintenance are necessary for the armed forces of the future. With them, we will build a stronger Netherlands, a safer Europe and invest in a powerful NATO and European Union. And we will protect our freedom, security and prosperity. This is the departure point of the Defence Memorandum 2022, which Minister Kajsa Ollongren and State Secretary Christophe van der Maat sent to the Lower House on the 1st of June
Defence must be there when it is needed to defend the Dutch and European security interests. This requires investments in a strong and well-trained armed force, in personnel and equipment. It is not just about making up for huge backlogs, but also about modernising, renewing and strengthening in a targeted manner, and thus being future-proof. Internationally, the Netherlands must be able to make an important contribution to joint deterrence, up to the highest end of the violence spectrum.
Investing in personnel
Personnel are the heart of Defence. That is why better employment conditions for personnel are necessary. Not only to be able to recruit people, but especially to retain them. Equally important is improving working conditions for our people. Working with the best equipment and practising a lot, where shortages of spare parts, transport and ammunition are not a constant problem. Training and investment are a necessity in order to increase our strength and to grow into a healthy, modern organisation that is ready for the tasks ahead.
A new human resources model will be introduced between now and 2025. The aim is to make better use of the talents of individual employees and to offer more opportunities for customisation and personal development. It will also offer more prospects for subsequent career steps, both within and outside the Ministry of Defence. In consultation with employers and partners, the organisation will improve the deployment of reservists to better guarantee deployment when needed.
More F-35s and MQ-9 Reapers
The F-35 fleet of the Air Force will be expanded from 46 to 52 fighters and equipped with modern long-range and precision weapons. In addition, the number of MQ-9 Reapers will increase from 4 to 8. The unmanned aircraft will also be armed. The Cougar transport helicopters will eventually be replaced by ‘Medium Utility Helicopters’, which can support special operations on land and at sea. The 4 C-130 transport aircraft will make way for 5 new transport aircraft.
Modern armament navy
The frigates and submarines of the navy will be equipped with new modern weaponry. These systems must offer protection against the threat of ballistic missiles. The Marine Corps will also receive new armament. It concerns modern fire support equipment, tactical air defence weapons and unmanned systems.
More flexible army
The army is aiming for more speed and flexibility. Units that have their own specialties such as mechanised or motorised units will become more independent by strengthening logistics and combat support. Moreover, everything that drives or rolls is being or has been modernised. The fire support is being strengthened by bringing more armoured howitzers back into service. This will increase the readiness and especially the deployability of ground troops.
The army is strengthening the Special Operations Forces (SOF) in a new Rapid Reaction Command. The Korps Commandotroepen and 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade are integrated in this. The air force is also making further use of SOF. There will be a squadron with specifically selected and trained personnel and adequate equipment such as specific helicopters to act quickly and integrated with other SOF components.
Expansion of military police duties
The military police must be better able to carry out police duties under war conditions. For this purpose, a squadron will be created that is specialised in military police tasks in the highest violence spectrum. This will involve, for example, the investigation of alleged war crimes in enemy territory.
More European cooperation
Europe must be able to take more responsibility for its own security. European and international cooperation is necessary to guarantee our security. By jointly acquiring and maintaining new capacities, Defence can cooperate better with international partners and make smarter purchases.
Existing cooperation will also be deepened. The army is going to work even more closely with its German colleagues. This will involve, for example, jointly strengthening and using fire support and other capacities. The further digitalisation of land units will also play a major role in the years ahead.
The other units are also strengthening their international ties. For instance, the navy is working with the Americans in the Caribbean region and is cooperating intensively with the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany in various fields. A bi-national maritime centre that can operate 24/7 is also being set up with Belgium.
The air force also cooperates intensively with the Belgians. Think for example of the monitoring of the airspace of the Benelux. In addition, the Netherlands is in the F-35 partnership with the European users and the US. These countries cooperate on education and training locations. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee has long been involved in guarding the Schengen external borders. This is done through the European Border Guard Agency Frontex.
New threats and technology
One of the rapidly increasing threats facing the Netherlands is the air and missile threat. Innovations and weapon systems in this area follow each other in rapid succession. Defence is therefore strengthening the Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) on land, at sea and in the air. For example, an integrated system is being developed that connects fighter planes, radar systems, Air Command and Control and space capacity with frigates, submarines and ground-based air defence systems. This not only provides better protection for the Netherlands, but also for NATO territory.
Another growing threat is cyber. To be and remain equal to the ever-growing cyberthreats, Defence will continue to invest in digital power in the years ahead. Defence wants more highly qualified specialists. At the Defence Cyber Command, they are an indispensable added value in every military operation.
Between life and death
The Ministry of Defence is going to take an even more information-driven approach and therefore improve the quality of information. Good intelligence is essential for this. For soldiers in the field, it can make the difference between life and death. In the years ahead, the government will invest in using new technology to further strengthen the Dutch and allied intelligence position.
Source: Ministery of Defence