A confidential roadmap for the proposals was signed off in December at a meeting of military officials in Dresden with the war in Ukraine accelerating calls for a defence harmonisation between the two countries. Regulations and equipment between the two militaries will also be standardised, with better officer-exchange programmes offered. While both militaries will keep their own ammunition stocks, officials have not ruled out even this being merged eventually.
The Dutch military has announced plans to integrate its last remaining combat brigade into the German Bundeswehr, according to media reports in Tagesspiegel. With two combat brigades already integrated into the German army, the new measures will see the remaining Dutch land brigade subordinated to a larger German division, with both militaries henceforth conducting joint purchases of equipment in a landmark move for both European military units.
Over the past decade, two Dutch brigades have been integrated into larger German-led formations. The new assimilation will create a combined force of 50,000 soldiers under German command.
The Netherlands has been proactive in supporting Ukraine, with military and humanitarian aid reaching one billion euros in December 2022. A standing force of 41,000 men, the Dutch army has already deployed with the German military during operations in Afghanistan and Lithuania with a German air defence unit integrated under Dutch command.
The agreement is awaiting a final greenlight from defence ministers in both countries but is expected to pass.
When approved, the measures will come into effect this April, with the 13th Light Brigade of the Dutch Army to be embedded into the 10th German Armoured Division. The navies of both countries are also heavily integrated with similar agreements.
The first time two EU or NATO nations have effectively combined their militaries, the move was praised as historic by both the Dutch government and supporters of a Common European Defence Union.
EU nations already conduct joint operations abroad and contribute to battle group formations to assist in rapid response deployments, with calls for a common EU defence policy increasing following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has previously commented that Dutch-German military cooperation constitutes a “way to a European Defence Union”
Controversy arose earlier this month over allegations that the German ministry of defence was attempting to stop the delivery of German tanks leased by the Dutch to Ukraine.
The increased cooperation comes after Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced €100bn to modernise and reform the German military in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine.