Cuts in defence spending mean we must fight fewer wars

22 November 2010

Cuts in defence spending mean we must fight fewer wars

Enormous cuts in the defence budget mean that the government must inevitably authorise participation in fewer international military missions. The so-called ‘level of ambition’ must be reduced to match available resources, according to SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk, who intends to make the point during tomorrow’s debate on defence personnel.

Defence Minister Hans Hillen intends in the coming year to cut the defence budget by a billion euros. 10,000 jobs will go, with one in seven soldiers departing. The SP supports deep cuts in defence spending, but wants at the same time to see the Netherlands ceasing to participate in wars of aggression such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government is maintaining, however, the same level of ambition and wants the armed forces to remain ‘flexibly deployable’.

“The government needs to become a little more humble,” says Van Dijk. ”If you have to reduce spending to such an extent then the level of your ambitions must also be reduced. Ends and means become increasingly out of balance, as has been noticeable during the last few years. Soldiers are working with obsolete equipment and worn-out clothing. Going further down this road will lead to huge risks.” The SP wants to see redundant personnel given priority in recruitment to other public services, such as the police.

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