Dutch Grapple with Equipment RESET/RECAP Needs
Politicians are often very happy to commit to the press conferences and international benefits that come from international military deployments, but paying for the real cost is another matter. Equipment used on the front lines of military operations tends to be used more often than equipment in peacetime. It also tends to accumulate more wear and tear, due to a combination of rugged conditions and battle damage. Inevitably, the question arises: How will the associated repair work and associated need for replacement equipment be paid for – without eroding a military’s budget, and hence its ability to recruit, train, and properly equip its people?
The US Army’s RESET programs stem from that imperative, as does Congress’ approach of using wartime supplemental budgets. The British are also being forced to grapple with this problem, but have not yet outlined a consistent approach. In The Netherlands, a leaked recommendation from Commander of the Armed Forces Dick Berlijn recently declared that their army cannot sustain the present operations in Uruzgan, Afghanistan.
The Dutch Lower House of Parliament recently forced the cabinet to earmark an extra EUR 100 million to address equipment wear-and-tear, but the need for a longer term resolution remains. Dutch CDA MP Raymond Knops adds one more factor…
He contends that the lack of indexing in the Dutch defense budget means that higher taxes and rising prices will erode the budget by EUR 92 million per year from 2009 onward.
The issue has become a live one within the governing coalition, as ChristenUnie MP Joel Voordewind wants equipment repair and replacement costs to come from the foreign ministry’s Homogenous International Cooperation Group (HGIS) fund, with additional supplemental budgets added if HGIS cannot fully cover those costs. The Christian democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA) are reported to be in favour.
Sharper differences appear over the longer-term issues around balancing Dutch international commitments and defense budgets. The PvdA wants to sell a lot of the military’s advanced equipment, in order to maintain the Dutch military at its present manpower size. The CDA and opposition conservatives (VVD) both believe that this will leave the Netherlands with a less capable, under-equipped military.
The present coalition cabinet will try to draw up a plan to reconcile country’s defense planning and international ambitions, but it isn’t expected until autumn 2009. This would leave implementation of the plan to a successor administration. An outcome that would tend to make the document more of a political platform than a durable plan. NIS News.
Dec 6/08: The Dutch MvD announces [in Dutch] that another one of its Bushmaster blast-resistant vehicles was hit by an IED land mine SW of Chora, Afghanistan. No-one was hurt thanks to the vehicle’s protective capabilities, but this is exactly the kind of “add it to the maintenance pile” incident that contributes to the finding issue above.