Germany Puts Short-Range Air Defense Unit Under Dutch Command
(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued April 4, 2018)
Germany and the Netherlands have taken another step in meshing their militaries. The move is designed to build synergy and possibly joint operation of long-range air defense systems.

The German military on Wednesday put a short-range air defense unit under Dutch command, further expanding unique military cooperation between the two NATO allies.

The 450 German soldiers will remain at an air defense base in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, but come under Dutch command.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen praised the bi-lateral military cooperation.

"We share common values and interests, believe in our European future, and are strong partners in the trans-Atlantic alliance," von der Leyen said. "We want to tap into synergies to improve our existing capabilities and build up new ones."

Is Europe bold enough to counter US ambivalence?

Meshing together the two militaries began in 1995. In 2014, the Dutch put 2,000 paratroopers under the command of a German division. In 2016, the two countries brought together their armored groups.

Wednesday's step is the first time cooperation extended to the German air force.

New challenges for the German army

Germany and other EU members are rapidly expanding military cooperation aimed at boosting common defense and pooling resources amid concern over US commitments and Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

Brigadier General Michael Gschossmann, commander of ground-based units for the German air force, said last week that bi-lateral military cooperation could lead to the joint development of weapons systems and joint operation of long-range missile defense systems.

The German troops in Schleswig-Holstein will remain under German command if deployed abroad. If the two countries agree, a joint force could be deployed abroad.

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