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Dutch military 'gravely neglected', advisory panel says

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch military has been “gravely neglected” under Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government and even if spending is increased, it will not be in a state of “basic readiness” until 2021 at the earliest, a key government adviser said on Friday.

In a scathing report less than a week before a national election, the Netherlands’ Advisory Council on International Affairs advised any incoming government to boost spending to the European average for the coming four years, and to the NATO norm of 2 percent for the subsequent four.

NATO has previously criticized the Netherlands for inadequate military spending, notably on ground forces and operational support. The Dutch spend a little more than 1 percent of GDP on their military, versus the European NATO average of around 1.4 percent.

The Dutch vote in a national election on March 15.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Clarence Fernandez