Netherlands wants to get main battle tanks again for its army
The political coalition formed by VVD, CDA and ChristenUnie wants the Netherlands to get its own tanks again, De Telegraaf reports, echoed by Dutch Wnl.tv website. According to the coalition parties, the war in Ukraine proves that tanks are crucial for national defence. The parties support the call of army generals to set up tank battalions again
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One of the 18 Leopard 2A6 MBTs rented from Germany (Picture source: Dutch MoD)
According to Peter Valstar, a member of the VVD party in the Netherlands, it's not a matter of if, but when the country will acquire tanks once again. Valstar, the defense spokesperson for his party, highlighted the experiences in Ukraine and the increased defense budget as logical reasons for this development. He made these remarks during an interview on the show "Good Morning Netherlands" on NPO 1.
Although the coalition partner D66 hasn't ruled out the possibility of purchasing tanks, the last Dutch tank was sold in 2011. Currently, the Dutch Defense Ministry has rented 18 Leopard 2A6 tanks from Germany.
Valstar emphasized that the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the indispensability of tanks. He mentioned that the Netherlands had not been passive in recent years, as they jointly operated the 414th tank battalion with Germany until 2017. The necessary expertise still exists within the Netherlands, allowing the tanks to be quickly reinstated if needed.
According to Valstar, the Netherlands has been too lenient in terms of defense, despite the increased budget allocated to the Ministry of Defence. He acknowledged the positive step taken in the past decade, with an additional five billion in funding and a tripling of the budget under the current coalition.
Valstar expects the tank issue to be discussed soon in the House of Representatives. He expressed curiosity about the defense minister's stance and the timeline for reintegrating the tanks into service. Based on previous experiences, Valstar remains hopeful that the tanks can be swiftly utilized.
Wouter de Winther, a political commentator from De Telegraaf, believes that Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren of D66 is not opposed to having tanks. However, the minister's position is influenced by the defense organization. If the defense organization previously deemed tanks necessary, it would be unlikely for them to change their stance under the current circumstances.
De Winther suggests that there is a strong possibility that D66 will align with their own minister's position, resulting in a parliamentary majority in favor of acquiring tanks.
Defense News May 2023