Army officer openly criticises defence minister

A major general in the Dutch army has written a damning letter to newspaper Trouw, warning defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert she must do more to explain her vision for the armed forces.

In what commentators say is a major break with tradition, major general Harm de Jonge says the minister must make clear on budget day what ambitions she has and that she should do ‘more than balance the books’.

De Jonge is a member of the officers’ association GOV/MHB. Traditionally, army officers do not openly interfer with defence policy and are loyal to their ministers, Trouw says.


The defence ministry is wrestling with plans to cut €1.33bn from its budget. Part of this is being achieved by scrapping an order for a new ship and several airforce batallions.

De Jonge said the minister is showing a lack of vision and is not asking what sort of armed forces will be left once the cuts have been made.

Last week, the biggest armed forces union also criticised the minister. An open revolt by officers means resistance to the minister has now spread across most of the armed forces, Trouw said.

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