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Dutch army without tanks called toothless

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - Dutch army Leopard 2A6s recently fired their last shot on the Bergen-Hoehne range in Germany, sending military tank to the history books in the Netherlands. As part of its defense cuts, the Dutch military is retiring its last 60 Leopard 2s, already down from over a thousand during the height of the Cold War. Steep cuts to the Dutch budget are forcing the Defense ministry to prioritize its spending, leaving its force without teeth, critics say. The ministry will shed 12,000 of 61,000 jobs, including the layoff of 2,000. The air force will be pared down to 68 F-16 fighters and 3 Cougar transport helicopters, while the navy will only shed seven ships. Also Dutch army fire power and defense will be reduced. Dutch military personnel demonstrated their displeasure with a large protest at the doors of parliament, targeting their harshest criticism at the Christian Democrats and conservative-liberal VVD. André Bosman, the VVD defense critic and a former Air Force staffer, defended the cuts but was roundly booed for his efforts. Since the military staff does not have the right to strike, many took the day off or were given leave to attend the protest. Kees van der Staay, the leader of a small Reformed Christian party called on the government to stop firing at its own troops, a statement which earned him much applause from his colleagues. It is not just cuts however. The government is also investing significant funds in reorganization and modernization.