Hillen: Further cuts will cripple the armed forces
13 August 2012, 16.40 hrs
Further cuts in the Defence budget will amount to "cutting off limbs", according to Minister Hans Hillen. The Minister wants to get the message home that cutting back more on Defence would be irresponsible.
“Further cuts will cripple the armed forces”, he said in various media today. “We have already been bled dry as it is.” Hillen’s concern for the armed forces is increasing now that some political parties’ manifestoes state that after the elections they will slash the Defence budget again, despite his appeals not to make further reductions. The Minister is of the opinion that the Netherlands must be given a clear warning that security is at stake. He points out that the last round of cutbacks, amounting to € 1 billion, is still in the process of being implemented. A process that was meant to take 4 years to complete. “A number of political parties are suggesting that we can now take another blow, but we can’t”, says Hillen, who already thought the current cutbacks were “far too much”.
Further cuts to the Defence budget will certainly mean that the Netherlands is no longer able to fulfil its international NATO obligations. It will also affect the scope of the armed forces’ ability to deploy both at home and abroad. For instance in counterpiracy operations. If piracy is not tackled, it will harm trade and, consequently, the economy. “These are our ships, carrying our products; we earn our money all over the world. That means it affects the people of the Netherlands too.” The Minister warns that Defence is not something that is ordered today and delivered tomorrow. It takes years of training to be fully deployable. According to him, the Netherlands has adopted a much too cavalier attitude to Defence, whilst threats, such as cyber attacks, abound.
The Defence budget is € 7.8 billion. That amounts to approximately 1.4 percent of the gross domestic product.