Military contribution to NATO

Every year, the Netherlands contributes military capabilities, such as vessels, aircraft and army units, to NATO.  That is part of the Defence organisation’s first main task: to protect our own territory and that of our NATO allies.

If NATO requests it, the Netherlands also contributes capabilities to the NATO Response Force (NRF) and the NATO Readiness Initiative (NRI). However, that only takes place following a decision to that effect by NATO’s North Atlantic Council, and only if all Member States (including the Netherlands) agree.

NATO Response Force (NRF)

The NRF is NATO’s rapid response force. It consists of:

  • Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). The VJTF is the most rapidly deployable response force, and is also known as the spearhead force.
  • Initial Follow-on Forces Group (IFFG). The IFFG can be deployed less rapidly than the VJTF. It consists of units that can reinforce the VJTF.
  • Follow-on Forces Group (FFG). The FFG has no pre-determined response time.

NATO Readiness Initiative (NRI)

The NRI serves to increase NATO’s pool of units that are at a heightened state of readiness.

Allied defence

At the moment, the main focus of Allied defence is to bolster the deterrence against Russia and reassure the eastern NATO Member States.

Below is a summary of the military capabilities that the Netherlands MoD will deploy, have on standby (NRF) and have at a heightened state of readiness (NRI) in 2023. In addition, the Netherlands also contributes to other NATO missions, for example the NATO mission in Iraq.

This page was last updated on 21 February 2023.

Dutch NATO deployments in 2023

  • NATO fleet SNMG1
    The Netherlands will contribute a frigate with an NH90 helicopter on board. Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) is one of NATO’s permanent maritime response forces. In 2023, it will be under German command.
  • NATO fleet SNMG2
    The Netherlands will contribute a frigate. SNMG2 is one of NATO’s permanent maritime response forces. In 2023, it will be under US command.
  • NATO fleet SNMCMG1
    1 minehunter with the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1 (SNMCMG1). This is one of NATO’s standing mine countermeasures task forces.
  • NATO fleet SNMCMG2
    1 minehunter with the SNMCMG2. This is one of NATO’s standing mine countermeasures task forces.
  • Quick Reaction Alert
    As part of NATO air policing, the Netherlands alternates with Belgium on a quarterly basis in guarding Benelux airspace. The F-16 aircraft are on standby 24/7 to intercept unidentified aircraft.
  • eFP Lithuania
    Since February 2017, the Netherlands has contributed approximately 250 military personnel to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Lithuania. The mandate will remain in effect until at least the end of 2024 and, from mid-2022, the Netherlands will deploy up to 350 military personnel.
  • Guardian Lightning
    From 1 February until 31 March 2023, the Netherlands will deploy 8 F-35 fighter aircraft over Eastern Europe. They will protect the air space from air bases in Poland and will conduct air policing and vigilance tasks.
  • Multinational Air Missile Defence Task Force
    Dutch personnel will take part in the Multinational Air Missile Defence Task Force until the end of 2023.
  • eFP Romania
    From the summer of 2022 onwards, the Netherlands has been fulfilling its responsibility to deploy 3 rotations of 200 army personnel for a duration of 12 months as part of the French-led battlegroup in central Romania.

Stand-by for the NATO Response Force

In 2023, the Netherlands will have the following on stand-by for the VJTF and IFFG  of the NATO Response Force:

  • 1 landing platform dock (LPD), including landing craft and two helicopters. Aboard this LPD, the Defence organisation will also provide medical services.
  • 1 frigate.
  • 1 submarine.
  • 1 diving team of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service.
  • 2 land-based HUMINT (human intelligence) and PSYOPS (psychological operations) units.
  • Several units for the (GER/NLD/NOR) brigade, including a Dutch battalion task group and a German-Dutch air defence unit. In total, approximately 1,500 Dutch army personnel.

Stand-by for the NATO Readiness Initiative

For the NRI, the Netherlands will have the following on stand-by in 2023:

  • 1 battalion task force (1,200 military personnel).
  • F-35 fighter aircrafts.
  • MQ-9 Reaper unmanned (unarmed) aerial capability.
  • 1 minehunter.