Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld. Photo: Arenda Oomen

Dutch Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld-Schouten spoke on the telephone today with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. They talked about the celebration surrounding the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, commitments within NATO, and more.

75 Years of Freedom

Minister Bijleveld would have come to the United States this month to express in person the Dutch gratitude for the liberation of the Netherlands.

Bijleveld said in her conversation with Esper that the freedom of the Netherlands has come about thanks to many young Americans. “We will never forget this,” she said.

The ties between the Netherlands and the United States are coming to the forefront in the annual commemoration at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, a village in the province of Limburg. All of the more than 8,000 graves of US soldiers there have been adopted by families in the region.


Both Secretary Esper and Minister Bijleveld emphasized the importance of NATO. The unity of the alliance is its most important defensive tool, according to both of them. Europe and the US are “indispensable partners,” according to Bijleveld, therefore a solid NATO-EU cooperation will benefit both. The Minister repeated her commitment to growing the Dutch defense budget. Esper concluded that the US remains adherent to the NATO adage, “In together, adjust together.”

The United States and the Netherlands have a great cooperation in many defense areas. It happens in missions and in the field of intelligence, cyber, space, special operation forces, the F-35 program, and knowledge on COVID-19.

Bijleveld thanked Esper, among others, for the education and training of Dutch pilots on US air bases that continued during the COVID-19 measures.

Military mobility

Secretary Esper thanked Minister Bijleveld for the leading role the Netherlands fulfills in raising military mobility in Europe. The fast movement of the military and its equipment is an important part of the strategy of credible deterrence. The Netherlands will support an upcoming relocation of military material from the east of Europe to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the so-called host nation support.

As of this week, 77 American helicopters and 1800 vehicles and containers will find their way to Rotterdam. From there, the materials will travel to the US by sea.