Defense Min. strongly against reinstating military draft

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (Photo: Commons). (Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (Photo: Commons))

Minister Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert is strongly opposed to reinstating the military draft, she said in an interview with Het Parool on Wednesday. According to her it is a nice idea, but it is overpriced and inconsistent with a professional army that can cope with the increasing tensions in the world.

According to Hennis, the Dutch military changed significantly after the military draft was scrapped in 1997. The Netherlands now has a professional army, that is increasingly deployed to uphold international law. Reintroducing the draft will change that.

"I can not think that we can see Defense as a large-scale re-education institute", Hennis said to the newspaper. "We are not talking about a walk in the park. With 'just' six months of training you're not there. Additionally, drafted soldiers can only voluntarily be deployed outside the NATO area. That creates uncertainty. And then on the practical side: look at what is needed for training capacity, quality, vehicles, food. The bottom line does not call for activation of the draft."

Hennis added that the current situation is more unpredictable than during the Cold War. "Then there was a crazy, bitter balance", she said. Now there are added threats from new phenomena such as cyber attacks. "They make thins less transparent and therefore more risky."

The CDA, ChristenUnie and VNL all called for a form of the military draft in their campaigns for the elections in March next year. They believe that the army can have a disciplining effect on troubled young people. According to them it can also bring the different parts of the population, currently estranged from each other, back together.

The Ministry of Defense recently launched an experiment in offering a number of young people with petty crimes on their record a place in the army. Though Defense spokesperson Klaas Meijer did stress that the experiment is not a reintroduction of conscription

But Hennis believes that Defense has to focus on its core tasks - freedom and security. "Defense was not established to help society communicate with each other. That can also be done at school, in sports, in the community center or through volunteer work."