Speech by Major General Theo ten Haaf, Commander NLD Special Operations Command NLD SOCOM founding ceremony

Luitenant-Admiral Bauer, Vice Admiral Killrain, Luitenant-General Pfeffer, Generals, my fellow SOF commanders, ladies & gentlemen, welcome!

Just a moment ago I had the honor of receiving command of the Netherlands Special Operations Command. Although it is me who is now in the spotlights, I am just humble part of a team.

What is this Dutch SOF team?

A team of dedicated Dutch Special Operations Operators and their enablers. A team that is fully committed to provide safety and security to the Dutch citizens, to our Allies and to our international partners.

A team that has its roots with the first men of No2 Dutch troop.  Formed as the first NLD Commando unit in June 1942 in Achnacarry, Scotlandtheir flag is now proudly & professionally carried by the KCT.

A team that carries with it the tradition of the Royal Netherlands Marines, formed in 1665 and harboring MARSOF operators since 2013.

A team that is supported by the dedicated airmen and airwomen of  300 Squadron Royal Netherlands Air Force. An Air Force that has its wings dating back to 1913

A team that consists of, and will consist of both men and women. The SOF team is only complete when women are part of it as well.  It is shortsighted to restrict the SOF world to men alone. A team of all genders is essential to conduct nowadays SOF operations.

A team that during its history has members from all ranks that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Members we will never forget!

Who are we? Where do we stand for? Let me explain this to you through our SOCOM symbol, displayed here on the screens.

First I start with the diamond shape.

The diamond shape symbolizes the nature of Special Operations. A diamond has many different angles and perspectives. It stands for the way how we approach and execute our operations. We take a myriad of perspectives and possible approaches to reach our goals.  Speed, flexibility, the use of  surprise and fitting our operations to each specific context are its key elements.

We also appreciate the diamond for its roughness and hardness. A combination that is often needed when our operators are conducting special operations in the field. 

A diamond is a precious stone and has high value. These are the same elements that apply to our SOF operators. There is only a few of them, they are carefully selected, highly trained and specifically equipped. Our operations can go with significant military risk, but they are of high strategic value.

Then the Color:

The grey/black color of our symbol mirrors the nature and characteristics of our operations. Most of the time discrete and under the cover of darkness. But the many shades of grey also represent the grey zone in which SOF often operates. We operate in most diverse, complex and often diffuse environments. The unending contrast between black and grey represents that variety of conditions and missions.

Now switching to the design:

As you can see the design is well off from classical and well threaden paths. It symbolizes the innovation which plays a major part in our organization & thinking. The coming decades will see profound social, cultural and technological changes. Near peer adversaries, hybrid warfare, cyber warfare, information warfare and the need for network connectivity are already a reality and will only intensify.

As any other organization and in order to remain relevant NLD SOCOM must adapt and stay connected to these and future developments! We do realize this. Almost 25% of NLD SOCOM will be designated to knowledge and innovation.

Finally the Lion:

The Lions stands for our core mission: providing safety & security to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to the Dutch people. It also stands for strength and teamwork. A lion never hunts alone. In order to achieve success it has to work in a team.

Like the lions we will work together. The creation of the Netherlands SOCOM is more than bringing the dagger the trident and the wings of our SOF units together. There is unity through diversity. We come from different traditions but we work together as one SOF team and focus on our common SOF mission!

The Netherlands conducted and conducts a myriad of special operations. To mention a few: Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, but also Former Yugoslavia, the Somali Basin and so on. In these operations we never worked alone nor will we at present and in the future.

We are strongly bound to NATO. With NLD SOCOM the Netherlands is providing a new contribution to this organization. We will work collectively & closely together with our Allies in this NATO commitment and contribution.

Within NATO there is a shortfall in C2 capacity for SOF. Together with Denmark and Belgium we will deliver a rapid deployable SOF headquarters, the so called Composite Special Operations Command, in 2021. We are now at the early stages of this project but we already work together in great unison.

Ladies and gentlemen. As you can see there is a high number foreign military dignitaries present. From Canada & the US to Australia & New Zealand. From Norway to Italy. From Portugal to Lithuania. From the UK, France, Germany to Poland.

Even if not named, all NATO SOF commanders, their representatives and International partners like Sweden and Finland are present here today.

We are all SOF brothers in arms and together we form the Global SOF network. Together we share this common goal: defending our countries and providing safety & security to our citizens!

Ladies and gentlemen, today marks the creation and initial operational capability of the NLD SOCOM. We are only at the beginning and still have to grow, but all this would not have been possible without the common effort of a lot of people.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those that made the creation of the NLD SOCOM possible. A special word of thanks goes to our CHOD Luitenant-Admiral Bauer, Cdr RNLA Lt-Gen Beulen, Cmdr RNLN Vice-Admiral Kramer and Cdr RNLAF Lt-Gen Luyt for their unwavering support and backing.

Also a special word of thanks to former CHOD General rtd Middendorp and former Vice CHOD Lt-Gen rtd Wehren who are here with us today. They pushed forward and layed the seeds for NLD SOCOM! And finally I would like to thank my SOCOM team for all their effort. Thanks guys and we will continue building!

Ladies and gentlemen, before we leave we will show a short film that gives an overview who we are and what we aim to achieve. After that we will leave in order as directed by the speaker for reception and lunch. Thank you for your visit and have a good & safe trip back home!