Our country provides chiefs of staff for the international coalition that must protect ships in the Red Sea from Houthi attacks. But providing a ship is not an option, says defense specialist Patrick Boulder of the Hague Center for Strategic Studies. “Our Navy has become very small in recent years.”
The Netherlands contributes to the Red Sea mission, but resources are limited
Shipping traffic through the Red Sea is under attack by Houthi rebels in Yemen. The United States announced yesterday that it was forming an international coalition to provide a response to this. The Netherlands also participates. Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren reported on Tuesday
“It shows we feel involved,” Boulder answers. This is not surprising, because the Netherlands is a trading country. We depend on the global flow of goods. This will be disabled if those ships are no longer able to pass through the Suez Canal.
Read also | “If the situation continues in the Red Sea, prices will rise.”
Hardly any resources
Although this contribution will be somewhat limited. “We have almost no resources,” Boulder admits. “Our Navy has become very small in recent years, as have our Air and Air Forces,” he added. The defense specialist calls this the result of “thirty years of peace dividends.”
“We always have a station ship out west, in the Caribbean,” he says. “We now also have a ship in Cyprus to potentially provide humanitarian support in Gaza. It would be difficult for the Navy to handle another ship in the Red Sea.
More than just a symbolic contribution
What the Netherlands can and will do is place staff officers at the mission headquarters. “We’ve done this in the past, including on hacking missions,” Boulder says. “So we have experience with that.” This headquarters regulates which ship will sail where and what tasks are assigned. You have to coordinate this between countries. “It is more than just a symbolic contribution.”
Read also | The ‘dismantled’ Dutch Navy must provide support to Houthi attacks in Yemen
According to him, the Netherlands can also contribute to information gathering, for example through our submarines. They can be very silent in shallow water and pick up information from the ether.
A lesson for politicians
Boulder describes what is happening in the Red Sea as an example of how trade and economics are linked to security. “We have reduced security in Europe over the past 30 years, which is now having repercussions,” says the defense specialist. “I hope this is a lesson for politicians: watch what you do with defence, because you really need it in the long run for your economy.”
Zombie specialist. Friendly twitter guru. Internet buff. Organizer. Coffee trailblazer. Lifelong problem solver. Certified travel enthusiast. Alcohol geek.