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The Netherlands Defence organisation has been hit hard by the cutbacks announced by Minister Hans Hillen. The following is a brief outline of the key measures:

Cutbacks amounting to EUR 617.5 million will be made in administration and management, support and operational logistics. That amounts to 64 percent of the total amount. The staffs will be reduced by 30 percent, and administrative and management relations and processes will be simplified. The number of top-level positions will be reduced from 119 to 80. One thousand civilian service cars will go, and VIP transport will be scaled down.

The Royal Netherlands Navy will reduce the number of minehunters from 10 to 6. Two of its four new ocean-going patrol vessels will not be taken into service. One of the two supply ships will be phased out. HNLMS Zuiderkruis will be taken out of service at the end of 2011, after the planned deployment as part of the EU operation Atalanta. HNLMS Amsterdam will remain in service until 2014 and will be replaced by the Joint Supply Ship.

Two tank battalions of the Royal Netherlands Army will be disbanded. In addition, a reduced number of self-propelled howitzers will be brought together with the 120mm mortars under a single field artillery battalion, and the construction engineers capability and the armoured engineers capability will be reduced, as will air defence capabilities and the number of Medium-Range Antitank systems on Fennek vehicles. The maintenance capability will also be decreased. Personnel reductions at the headquarters of the German-Netherlands Corps will be agreed with Germany.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force will reduce its number of F-16s from 87 to 68. The Cougar transport helicopters will be phased out and the third DC-10 will not be taken into service. The air force will also disband two Ground Installation Defence platoons and one of the four Patriot batteries will be taken out of service.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee will cancel the purchase of the vessel intended for use in the Zeeland waters. As a result of the reduction of the armed forces, the RNLM police tasks for the armed forces will also be reduced.

Important dates

On Monday 9 May, in preparation for the reorganisation process, most of the operational units and systems which are being discontinued will be deactivated or taken out of service.

In July, a detailed plan will be produced regarding the reorganisation and the reduction of the administration of the organisation (particularly the Central Staff and the staffs of the other elements of the Defence organisation). By then the Strategic Infrastructure Plan should be completed, detailing which locations will remain in use and which will be closed. Lastly, more information will become available on the maximum number of personnel in various ranks, and their distribution in the organisation, so that it will become clear what room there is for through flow and how experience will be retained and guaranteed for the future.

The measures are the result of the worldwide financial crisis. The government is having to reduce spending by EUR 18 billion, EUR 635 million of which must be saved by the Ministry of Defence. In addition, the Defence organisation must cut back EUR175 million, and another EUR 150 million in the longer term, in order for the Defence budget to become financially sound again. Furthermore, financial room is needed to allow for a number of innovations. (Source: ASD Network)

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