Change of Command Chief of Defence
On 28 June, the incumbent Chief of Defence (CHOD) of the Netherlands, General Peter van Uhm, handed over command of the Netherlands armed forces to his successor, General Tom Middendorp.
The ceremony, steeped in military tradition, was held at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The handover of command took place in the presence of, among others, armed detachments from all Services, knights in the Military Order of William, young veterans and many members of the diplomatic corps.
The actual transfer of command was sealed when General Middendorp said “I hereby accept command of the Netherlands armed forces’, followed by a handshake. From that moment, General Middendorp, as 'top boss' of the Commanders of the Navy, Army and Air Force, was responsible for the planning, management and deployment of the armed forces. The Chief of Defence also determines the operational policy of the armed forces.
The armed forces are active every day, both at home and abroad, in the interests of the Netherlands and its people. The Defence organisation is one of the pillars supporting the Netherlands and its security, entrepreneurship and prosperity. The worldwide deployment of Dutch military personnel contributes to the international rule of law, peace and stability. These preconditions for the free movement of persons and goods are of crucial importance to the Netherlands as a trade nation. In this light, the Netherlands took part in the ISAF mission in Uruzgan. At present, the Netherlands is participating in the police training mission in Kunduz, Afghanistan, while it is also investing heavily in the fight against piracy around the Horn of Africa.
As senior military adviser to the Minister of Defence, the CHOD makes an important contribution to the process of decision-making by Government and Parliament. Van Uhm showed his vision, for example, in the intensification of the fight against piracy. The Netherlands now has a leading role in counterpiracy missions, which are so crucial to economic interests. Van Uhm's personality, insight and sense of responsibility earned him a great deal of respect within the armed forces, in political circles and in society as a whole. He has also achieved an impressive amount of international recognition, as demonstrated by the Australian and Afghan military decorations he received in the weeks preceding the change of command.
The CHOD’s loyalty was certainly called on with regard to implementing the forced cutbacks in Defence from 2010. Under Van Uhm’s command, the Defence organisation always delivered what it was asked to deliver on time. Now it is up to General Middendorp to complete the reorganisation. Before taking up this new, demanding job, the new Chief of Defence fulfilled many, widely varying positions. His previous job was that of Director of Operations, being responsible for the practical execution of missions in which the Netherlands participates. Before that, he was in command of Task Force Uruzgan.