In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Vice Admiral Matthieu J. M. Borsboom
The Royal Netherlands Navy brings to the table expansive capabilities, including theater ballistic-missile defense. With our integrated Marine Combat Groups and Maritime Special Operations Forces, we focus on upstream prevention. Nevertheless, we have learned that maintaining escalation dominance is of the essence. In the past, choke points like the Strait of Hormuz have been subject to blockades, submarine threats, and sea mines. Social instability in Europe’s backyard has made it clear that our nation has to be ready to contribute to crisis-prevention and stabilization operations under all circumstances.
Our present-day strategic agenda is to safeguard our national economic interests and to promote international legal order. In this interconnected world, patrolling our coasts and exclusive economic zone is not enough. It requires us to fight piracy, the spread of narcotics, weapons smuggling, contraband, and human trafficking. We have to contribute to disaster-relief efforts and to international missions. This agenda currently brings our ships and embedded RNLN Marine Corps detachments to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf region, the Caribbean, and Africa.
At an international level, analysts predict that Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Arctic region are likely areas where tensions might rise in the future. Demand for sea-based support of joint and combined operations in the littoral zone is expected to increase. There continues to be high demand for our minehunters to clean up explosives and Dutch submarines to perform reconnaissance operations. Our two Marine Combat Groups, Maritime Special Forces, and support elements are significant force multipliers.
We have set ourselves the goal of being adaptable, meaning that we are capable of deploying for a wide range of tasks. Second, we want to be active, making valuable contributions to security at and from the sea, to international peace and stability, and to provide humanitarian aid. Third, we want to be affordable, getting the job done at a responsible cost level. We therefore opt for ongoing modernization, multi-functional platforms with multi-tasking personnel, and structural international cooperation with strategic partners.
Recently we commissioned four state-of-the-art ocean-going patrol vessels. In 2014 a new multi-functional joint-support ship will provide a multi-dimensional logistic capability. Together with existing high-end assets, our fleet is capable of taking on a variety of tasks. Thus we see ourselves as a navy that is lean and mean, and a reliable partner.