January 24, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Netherlands outlined plans on Monday for a far-reaching reform of the armed forces designed to cut billions of guilders in costs and create a flexible force capable of responding to rapidly changing defense needs.
Defense Minister Frank de Grave told a news conference he wanted to modernize the armed forces to put the emphasis on peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Units set up to deflect a Russian attack on NATO
would play a diminishing role. The government said last year it wanted to cut 375 million guilders ($197 million) annually off the defense budget until 2002.
De Grave said he planned to trim an extra 2.8 billion guilders by 2010. Under his scheme, the navy will scrap two frigates and three Orion patrol aircraft. The airforce will lose 18 F-16s, while the army will cut three tank battalions and 150 Krauss-Maffei Leopard tanks, representing half its fleet.
Further savings will be made by combining other units, the minister said.