Netherlands

In 2017, the Dutch government plans to increase defence spending by 300 million Euros, as was officially announced at the opening of the Dutch parliament, on 20 September. The Ministry of Defence will have almost 8.7 billion Euros available in support of its efforts. The bulk amount of these funds will be allocated to the stockpiling of spare parts and ammunition and to the recruitment of extra personnel. In 2016, the defence budget was also increased, in that case by 220 million Euros. This amount of money was used in part to further improve the armed forces’ operational deployability. Additionally, extra funding was made available on a structural basis, for Dutch participation in peace keeping missions.   

In 2017, the Dutch government plans to increase defence spending by 300 million Euros, as was officially announced at the opening of the Dutch parliament, on 20 September. The Ministry of Defence will have almost 8.7 billion Euros available in support of its efforts. The bulk amount of these funds will be allocated to the stockpiling of spare parts and ammunition and to the recruitment of extra personnel. In 2016, the defence budget was also increased, in that case by 220 million Euros. This amount of money was used in part to further improve the armed forces’ operational deployability. Additionally, extra funding was made available on a structural basis, for Dutch participation in peace keeping missions.   

Nowadays, military operations and missions are becoming increasingly complex. Modern armed forces have to tackle with a great diversity of tasks under a wide range of circumstances. Additionally, the theatre of operations has dramatically expanded. Operations are conducted all over the world and often within the framework of integrated multinational partnerships. Within this context, the key elements for a successful outcome are quick deployment, flexibility and the ability to react swiftly to unexpected opportunities and threats. Additionally, the process of globalisation and the relationship between internal and external security has been further intermingled, meaning that many problems in Dutch society, have a significant international dimension and vice versa. Under this context, national borders have without a doubt lost some of their importance as the demarcation line for the security of the Netherlands’ territory and society. Thus, Dutch armed forces nowadays have a dual role to play, safeguarding against threats both to the nation and to its society.

This dimension was highlighted by Dutch King Willem-Alexander in his speech ahead of the government's 2017 budget presentation in which he mentioned the terrorist threat as one of the problems the world currently faces. He also added that Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine has further destabilized Europe and that several other conflict hotspots, such as in Mali, Yemen and Afghanistan also pose a threat to the international legal order.
      
King Willem-Alexander also referred in his speech to the growing flow of refugees from Turkey to Europe that demands an active response. According to his views the solution to the problem should include international conflict management, refugees’ reception in the region, combating people smuggling, a strict but fair asylum procedure in every country, effective policy of return, and giving to those unable to return, opportunities to integrate in local societies.

The Netherlands’ defence policy is firmly oriented in opting for international cooperation within the EU, NATO and at UN level. The Netherlands’ most important partners in the field of security, are the two other BENELUX countries (Belgium and Luxemburg), as well as Germany.

Under this context, in February 2016, Dutch Minister Mrs. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and her German colleague Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen, signed two agreements on far-reaching cooperation measures. Under these agreements, Germany will become a joint user of the logistical support ship HNLMS Karel Doorman and the two countries will strengthen their ties in the area of ground-based air and missile defence, among other items.

Defence cooperation between the BENELUX countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), has been the case for many years, however it was further reinforced with the declaration signed in 2012 between the Ministers of Defence of the Netherlands and Belgium, Mr. Hans Hillen and Mr. Pieter de Crem, and the Minister of the Interior of Luxembourg, Mr. Jean-Marie Halsdorf. According to the declaration, the three BENELUX countries armed forces will train and exercise together more frequently, the air forces will make use of each other’s airfields, the Belgian and Dutch navies will intensify their combined operations and finally Belgium’s paratroopers and the Netherlands’ Airmobile Brigade will cooperate more intensively.

More recently, on December 21st 2016, a technical arrangement (TA) was signed by the Dutch Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Belgian Commander of the Air Component and the Ambassador of Luxembourg, for the Dutch and Belgian Air Forces to take turns in the responsibility of performing air policing operations of the BENELUX airspace, with 24/7/365 readiness.

More on that direction, Belgium and the Netherlands are planning to collaborate on the replacement of their current Tripartite-class mine-countermeasures (MCM) vessels and M-frigates. The navies of the two countries cooperate for several years, working together in various areas, such as materiel maintenance and combined training. Additionally, it is worth highlighting that the 2 navies use the same types of ships and helicopters and their close cooperation is further exemplified by the fact that in times of war, there is an agreement to operate under an integrated, single command. This cooperation of the 2 navies is known by the name BENESAM.

The Netherlands are also a member of NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), an international initiative under which the 12 participant nations, acquired, manage, support and operate three Boeing C-17 strategic transport aircraft. The first C-17 was delivered in July 2009, the second in September and the third in October of 2009. The aircraft operate out of Pápa Air Base in Hungary and are open to use by the participating nations. The participants include ten NATO nations (namely Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States) and two Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations (namely Finland and Sweden).
 
Furthermore, the Netherlands is seeking to collaborate with Norway on the possibility of a collective purchase, maintenance and training programme, with regard to the potential F-16 successor for these countries, i.e. the F-35 Lightning II. The purchase of F-35 aircraft, is the biggest future procurement for the Netherlands, as the country is planning to purchase up to 37 such units. In March 2015, the Dutch Parliament approved an order for eight F-35As, which will be delivered in 2019. The F-35s will eventually replace the F-16s currently in use by the Dutch Air Force.