- Ministry of Defence
- Military leadership
Chief of Defence
The Chief of Defence (CHOD) is responsible for the implementation of military operations in the Netherlands and abroad. He is assisted by the Defence Staff.
General Tom Middendorp was born in Rheden, the Netherlands, in 1960. His military career began in 1979 at the Royal Military Academy in Breda, after which he attended a one-year specialist training course at the Engineer Training Centre in Vught, North Brabant. In 1984, he was posted to Ermelo, where he was given command of an armoured engineer platoon. He held this command for two years. Towards the end of 1986, he was transferred to Breda, where he joined a regional directorate of the Defence Infrastructure Agency as head of project management. In 1989 he assumed command of an engineer company in Seedorf, northern Germany.
From mid-1992 to 1994, Tom Middendorp attended the army’s Advanced Military Studies course. This was followed by a posting to the Army Staff, where he was in charge of developing and implementing new infrastructure policy in the light of the abolition of conscription. On completion of this posting, in 1996 he and his family left for the United States, where he attended the one-year course at the Command and General Staff College.
In 1997 he was assigned the post of military assistant to the Deputy Chief of the Netherlands Defence Staff. Following this posting, he was reassigned to Münster, Germany, as chief of the National Planning Bureau for 1 German/Netherlands Corps in the period from 1999 to mid 2001. After this, he was given command of 101 Engineer Battalion in Wezep. As first commander of this battalion, he was responsible for setting it up and during the next two and a half years commanded it through 14 deployments in Bosnia, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
After his promotion to colonel, he was posted to the Ministry of Defence as policy coordinator at the Principal Directorate of General Policy Affairs. In this posting, he advised the Minister of Defence on national deployment of the armed forces and established several cooperation agreements between the Ministry of Defence and other ministries.
Towards the end of 2006, Tom Middendorp was deployed to Afghanistan as Senior Political Adviser and Deputy NATO Senior Civil Representative (SCR), standing in for the SCR on frequent occasions. In mid-2007 he started a short assignment with the Royal Netherlands Army as head of the Management Support Division, after which he was given command of 13 Mechanised Brigade in Oirschot on 11 January 2008.
In the period from February to August 2009, he was again deployed to Afghanistan, this time as commander of the multinational Taskforce Uruzgan (TFU 6). On 24 December 2009, Tom Middendorp was appointed Director of Operations at the Defence Staff in The Hague. On 1 January 2012, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in preparation for his future role as Chief of Defence. On 28 June 2012, he accepted command of the armed forces and as of that date General Middendorp holds the highest military position within the Netherlands Defence organisation.