Netherlands to cut 12,000 defence posts
The Dutch government said Friday it planned to cut 12,000 of a total 69,000 defence ministry jobs over the next four years but vowed it could maintain its international military commitments.
A NATO member, the Netherlands, has contributed forces to international operations in Afghanistan and the current mission in Libya, among other missions.
"Of the 12,000 job cuts, there should be 6,000 dismissals," Defence Minister Hans Hillen told journalists after a cabinet meeting.
About 30 percent of the military's general staff was to disappear, he said, as well as about 100 Dutch posts in the NATO command structure.
The defence ministry has been tasked with cutting up to one billion euros ($1.4 billion) from its budget by the end of 2014 under the centre-right Dutch government's cost-cutting scheme.
Hillen said the ministry would also cut the use of equipment including 60 Leopard tanks, two patrol boats, 17 Cougar helicopters, a DC-10 transport plane and 19 F-16 fighter jets.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country's ambition of participating in international missions "remains intact" despite the planned cuts.
"The Netherlands will continue to make an important contribution," he said at a press conference, though he added that future missions will probably have "shorter durations than in the past."
Rutte said the cuts were aimed not only at cutting costs but also at reorganising the military to make it "more efficient".
© 2011 AFP