THE HAGUE --- Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis is facing new cutbacks on her budget. Nonetheless, the Dutch armed forces must remain deployable worldwide up to the highest level of force, the minister’s future scenario specifies.
Hennis has sent the main lines of her memorandum to the Lower House in a letter. The cabinet will send the full memorandum to the House later. The question of the successor to the F-16 fighter aircraft may then also become clearer.
The strategy builds on the thought that uncertainty is “the most important constant” in international relations. Also playing a role is the fact that Europe is taking more responsibility for its own security because the Americans are focusing more on Asia. Because there is no “standard recipe” for military deployment, the army must continue to be able to participate in all sorts of operations, from attack to reconstruction.
According to GOV/MHB union chairman Marc de Natris, the letter means that Defence has to lower its ambitions. “A four-year mission as in Uruzgan will no longer be possible,” he says.
Hennis reports that new measures are necessary to prevent a structural deficit emerging on her budget from 2018. Without measures, an annual deficit of 333 million euros threatens. All parts will be faced with savings.
Nonetheless, Hennis writes that 4.5 billion euros will as planned remain available for the replacement of the F-16 fleet. To keep the aircraft in the air, 270 million euros will be earmarked.
The minister has not yet specified the successor to the F-16. The purchase - most likely of the JSF - will not be at the expense of other parts of the armed forces, according to Hennis.
Two weeks ago, RTL Nieuws reported that the cabinet had already decided on the JSF. But that was and still is denied by the ministry.