August 26, 1998 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The new Dutch government is considering the first major scaling back of the armed forces since 1993 as it seeks to cut the defense budget by 375 million guilders ($184. 8 million) per year.
Previous savings in the budget, currently some 13. 5 billion guilders per year, have been made by improving efficiency, which the Dutch describe as the "cheese slicer" method of economizing.
However, the army chief Lieutenant-General Maarten Schouten told the latest edition of forces magazine Legerkoerier that the army could not perform its current operations with less money, and the Defense Ministryhas agreed. New Defense Minister Frank de Grave has up to two years to produce a white paper detailing the cuts, but a number of proposals have already been put forward.
The Dutch could choose to reduce the navy by some four frigates and the air force by two F-16 jet fighter squadrons. Hardenbol said the cuts would roughly cover the 375 million guilder budget reductions.