THE HAGUE: In 2008, Dutch defense spending totaled 8.2 billion euros, or 1.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Five years ago, it was 1.5 percent of GDP and 10 years ago, 1.8 percent.
The Netherlands spent 500 euros per inhabitant on defence last year. In 2000, it was 421 euros per inhabitant. This is an increase of 18.5 percent, which is less than inflation in this period, the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) reported yesterday.
In 2008, the Netherlands spent 428 million euros on foreign military support, twice as much as in 2003. Two-thirds of the spending in 2008 is connected with the Dutch contribution to the military mission in Afghanistan. For maintaining peace and stability in Europe, 26 million euros was spent, while the contribution to the United Nations was 100 million.
The Dutch mission in Afghanistan cost nearly 1 billion euros in the 2002-2008 period. This makes the contribution to this mission the biggest operation by the Dutch armed forces of the past 20 years. There are around 2,000 Dutch military active in Afghanistan, including nearly 1,400 in Uruzgan.
At end-2008, the defence ministry had nearly 61,000 full-time jobs, 11,100 less than at end-2002. The civilian personnel declined by 20 percent in this period, and military personnel by 13 percent.
The personnel reduction was related to a reorganisation, but also to a reduced interest in a military career. But “in the last half year, interest in a job in the army has picked up, partly due to the recession,” the CBS noted.
CBS defines ‘foreign military support’ as Dutch involvement in crisis management operations and peacekeeping missions of the UN, NATO and the EU. Spending includes all costs, such as the deployment of personnel and equipment and maintenance of equipment, including the obligatory contributions to the organisations.
The costs of the Dutch mission in Afghanistan only involve the spending which the Foreign and Defence Ministers have agreed can be charged against the crisis management operations. Other extra spending is put in the regular defence budget and is excluded here. This includes replacement investments (due to severe taxation, the equipment deteriorates more quickly), and for the interim purchasing of necessary equipment, like Bushmaster tanks.
The data on the full-time jobs is based on the actual numbers at 31 December. Not included are staff working at the agencies of the ministry (Telematica Organisation Service, Defence Property and Paresto Service) and the Explosives Clearance Service (EOD).