Dutch officers critical of plan to supply Ukraine with armored howitzers
The Netherlands' decision to supply armored howitzers to Ukraine together with Germany to help the country fight the Russian invaders could have consequences for the deployability of the Dutch armed forces, Niels van Woensel, chairman of the Dutch Officers Association (NOV), said after reports in De Telegraaf.
An armored howitzer is the army's strongest artillery weapon, capable of hitting targets 40 to 50 kilometers away. The Netherlands has 54 of these, about half of which are in use. It is not yet known how many howitzers the Netherlands intends to supply. The plan is still under discussion, and Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren has not yet made a final decision.
The Netherlands has been supplying Ukraine with weapons for some time but is now considering sending weapons that the Netherlands itself uses for the first time. Van Woensel calls this a strange choice. "The armed forces cannot properly perform the tasks it has at present, for example, main task 1: protecting its own territory and that of allies. We know that we've had a shortage for years, and we must ensure that this is quickly rectified."
Additional armored howitzers can be deployed to strengthen the land forces. According to Van Woensel, if some of these weapons are sent to Ukraine it could cause problems in the long run. "We don't need all of the 29 howitzers in storage right now, but it is important for our own deployability that we have them in stock."
The chairman said that he understands the Minister's considerations. "These are high-quality pieces that can make a difference on Ukraine's battlefield, so I understand the trade-off in sending them." At the same time, Van Woensel thinks consideration should be given to the fact that it is not easy to use an armored howitzer. It requires long training and a lot of logistical support. As a result, he said, there is no guarantee that the weapons will be used properly. Some could also be destroyed.
Reporting by ANP