Army slim-down begins

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The Dutch armed forces will in future have to make do without tanks and with less F-16 fighter jets, helicopters and mine hunters. Part of the material to be mothballed or sold off will be decommissioned on Monday, as the first step in a radical reorganisation announced by Defence Minister Hans Hillen last month.

Armed forces commander General Peter van Uhm will attend the decommissioning of 14 Cougar transport helicopters at the Gilze-Rijen airforce base. Elsewhere, 60 Leopard tanks, 19 F-16s and four mine hunters will be mothballed. The defence ministry says it will try to find suitable positions for the hundreds of personnel who are out of a job because their units were scrapped.

Minister Hillen wants to make structural budget cuts of one billion euros in the coming four years. Nearly 12,000 out of a total of 69,000 staff members will be made redundant, with about 6,000 facing a forced dismissal.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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