A look at the Defence news, 22 – 28 October

“We’ll see you in the Netherlands in 2020!” With those words, the British prince Harry closed the 4th edition of the Invictus Games on Saturday 27 October. 500 wounded, injured and ill servicemen and women spent a week competing in various sports in the Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia. Amongst them were 23 competitors from the Netherlands, taking part in 11 events. In 2020, the Invictus Games will be held in The Hague.

Photo: Meghan kisses team captain Jelle van der Steen.

Meghan kisses team captain Jelle van der Steen.

The prince was not the only one to address the crowd of thousands in the Qudos Arena: his wife Meghan did so too. “​It is such an honour to be here tonight celebrating all of you, and supporting my husband in the Invictus Games,” she said to loud cheers.

The kiss

On Saturday afternoon, the Duchess of Sussex let Jelle van der Steen, team captain of the Dutch wheelchair basketball team, seduce her into a kiss. That photo has subsequently been published around the world. “Exceptional”, van der Steen called these Invictus Games – and not just because of ‘the kiss’.

Dutch competitor Joyce van den Waardenburg also confirmed that the Invictus Games centre around more than just the medals. “Even just taking part in a country so far away is a huge step for me. So winning medals for shot-putting and for discus-throwing is an added bonus.”

Defence organisation to expand its ammunition stock

Next year, the Defence organisation will increase its stock of ammunition in order to bring it up to the required level. Having sufficient ammunition is crucial for the armed forces to fulfil its tasks. The organisation will therefore now receive additional funding, having started to address its biggest bottlenecks using extra money in 2016. State Secretary Barbara Visser wrote to inform the House of Representatives of this on 22 October.

Visser will make an extra 250 million to 1 billion euros available towards the increase of stockpiles. The money will be spent on conventional ammunition (such as regular bullets and shells) as well as on high-tech ammunition. Examples of the latter include missiles for the F-35, advanced torpedoes and precision-guided munition for the self-propelled howitzer. NATO, the EU and the United States are demanding that Europe – including the Netherlands – take on more of its own responsibility for security.

Elections in Afghanistan

150 members of the Netherlands armed forces stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan lent support to the advisers to the Afghan army and police chiefs during recent elections. For the first time in 8 years, the Afghan people were allowed to go the ballot box to elect a new parliament. Dutch military personnel worked 24 hours a day in shifts to protect the advisers and their Afghan counterparts.