Addressing the future without foresight : An overview of Dutch defense policy in response to changing security perceptions since 1989

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This study focuses on the changing security perceptions since the end of the Cold War and the related role of the Dutch armed forces in this process. Because the defence organization is a frequently used policy instrument of Dutch politics in shaping foreign policy, the structure and concepts within this organization are specifically subject to certain perceptions of threats in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. This issue has recently been revived with a renewed discussion on the future of the Dutch armed forces. Therefore, the main question of this study is: How have the Dutch armed forces responded to changing security environments? The answer to this question has been divided into three subquestions, of which the first question focuses on finding the specific actors and developments in national and international politics and affairs which have influenced Dutch defense policy since the end of the Cold War. It appears that the institutional framework in which the Dutch armed forces operate, has not dramatically changed since 1989. The second subquestion deals with the identification of current threats and threat perceptions which could possibly influence Dutch defence policy in the next two decades. The results show that the Dutch armed forces will have to operate in a constantly changing security environment, in which a great diversity of threats will continue to influence ideas on security. The third subquestion deals with the description of specific policy measures which have been taken up by the Dutch Ministry of Defence in order to cope with this continuously changing security perception. The overarching policy change comes from the adaptation of the 'expeditionary warfare'-concept, which entails a highly mobile and adaptable armed forces apparatus, supported by flexible supply-chains in logistics, material planning procedures, as well as new force planning and communication techniques. In sum, it can be concluded that the Dutch armed forces have responded to changing security perceptions with a thorough reform of funds, assets and manpower from an organization ready to stop a full scale Russian invasion to a small-scale, high tech, well trained and mobile force capable of addressing a great diversity of threats around the world. However, the question remains whether this reform is the most effective way in alleviating the identified threats.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen