Dutch armed forces lax on personnel safety, says critical report

Soldiers march in formation

The defence ministry has failed to take the safety of its personnel seriously on all fronts, according to a highly critical report published on Friday.

There is no active management of safety issues, too few people have been allocated to safety issues and within the armed forces themselves there is an underdeveloped culture of safety, the report, drawn up under the leadership of former Shell boss Jeroen van der Veer, said.

Improving safety, the report said ‘is not rocket science’.

Defence minister Ank Bijleveld said in a reaction that there is an urgent need for structural improvements, as well as a behavioural and cultural shift.

Friday’s report was a follow up to one published last year, which led to the resignation of defence minister Jeanine Hennis.

That report said ‘serious deficiencies’ in military procedures accounted for an accident on 6th July 2016, when a 60mm mortar set off a grenade during a practice session in Mali, killing two soldiers.

It said procedures were not properly followed in purchasing the weapons, initially for a mission in Afghanistan in 2006. They were not kept cool enough in transportation and storage, and medical care at a local hospital was inadequate.

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