Eichelsheim new Chief of Defence

Lieutenant General Onno Eichelsheim is to be the new Chief of Defence of the Netherlands. The Council of Ministers today approved the nomination of General Eichelsheim by Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten. On Thursday 15 April, Eichelsheim will succeed Admiral Rob Bauer, who has been appointed as chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. Eichelsheim has been Bauer’s deputy since July 2019.

The Chief of Defence is the figurehead of the Netherlands Armed Forces and is responsible for the planning and execution of military operations. He is head of the armed forces, is responsible for their operational readiness and informs and advises the Minister in this regard.

As the Chief of Defence, he is the principal military adviser to the Minister of Defence and directs the commanders of the armed services and the director of the Defence Materiel Organisation. His primary task for the coming period is the implementation of the Defence Vision 2035.

“With Onno Eichelsheim, the armed forces will have a commander with a great deal of operational experience. He is close to his people and is extremely accessible. I look forward to working with him”, said Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten.

Operational experience

Onno Eichelsheim (Schiedam, 1966) began his military career as a cadet at the Royal Netherlands Military Academy in Breda in 1986. In 1990, he completed his basic flight training and was awarded his helicopter pilot wings. Until 1996, he served in a variety of operational positions as helicopter pilot with 299 Squadron at Deelen Air Base, during which time he was deployed to Bosnia. He subsequently trained with the first Dutch Apache Squadron in Fort Hood, Texas (USA). Back in the Netherlands, Onno Eichelsheim was assigned as flight commander of 301 Apache Squadron, and in 2000 was again deployed to Bosnia. In 2004, he was deployed to Kabul (Afghanistan) and in 2006 he completed a tour of duty in Uruzgan (Afghanistan).


In April 2016, Onno Eichelsheim was promoted to the rank of major general and appointed director of the Netherlands Defence Intelligence and Security Service (NLD DISS). The DISS supplies intelligence and security information to top-level ministerial officials and the 4 operational commands of the Defence organisation.