New Dutch govt. sets aside extra €1.5 billion for Defense: report
The new Dutch government is giving an extra 1.5 billion euros to Defense, sources told the Telegraaf based on the financial plans the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie sent to central planning office CPB. Two thirds of that money is for catching up on overdue maintenance, the rest for investment, according to the newspaper.
That the new government plans to push more money into Defense, comes as no surprise. During the campaigns preceding the parliamentary election in March, all parties except GroenLinks, SP and DENK said they wanted more money to go towards the Dutch armed forces.
It is also clear that Defense has major equipment maintenance and deployability problems. Over the summer, RTL Nieuws reported that the equipment for the Corps Commandos is so outdated and worn that life-threatening situations could occur during missions, and that a number of trainings were halted. "We're sending boys away in second-hand clothing", a commander said to RTL at the time. "You sometimes literally stand in your underwear because your pants are tearing out." Last week the broadcaster also got hold of a confidential assessment, which stated that "the equipment is old and worn and therefore dangerous".
Other organizations also raised the alarm over the past years. The advisory council for international issues AIV sent a report to the government saying that the deployability of the Dutch Armed Forces is "eroded". In March NATO also strongly criticized the employability of the Dutch armed forces. According to NATO, strengthening defense should be a top priority for the Netherlands. And the Court of Audit judged that years of budget cuts hollowed out Defense, resulting in not enough maintenance being done.
The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie sent "a large part" of their plans to the CPB on Friday, September 15th, according to RTL Nieuws. The CPB is now checking the plans to make sure that they are affordable and have no unexpected side-effects.
If the new government doesn't take office before October 9th, this will be the longest formation negotiations in Dutch history, according to the broadcaster.