Petrus Hagenaars, IF Netherlands, DDE ‘14
After graduating from the DDE Class of 2014, I continued to serve as the Netherlands Liaison Officer at HQ, TRADOC at Fort Eustis, Virginia until the summer of 2015. After that posting, I became the Deputy Commander of 43 Mechanised Brigade of the Royal Netherlands Army until the summer of 2018. In that position, I also was the Regional Military Commander North, responsible for Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in the north of the Netherlands. In that period, I developed, with others, the plan to rebuild a territorial headquarters for the Army, something that was lost following many budget cuts in 2003.
I established the Territorial Operations Centre (TOC) reaching Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in February, just in time to support the USAREUR-led exercise DefenderEurope20. On March 10, when the first ship with material of a U.S. Army mechanized brigade arrived in a Dutch port, it became clear that DefenderEurope20 would be significantly scaled down because of the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, the centre was tasked to direct the Army response to COVID-19. Personnel from all services are now present in the TOC, all working hard fighting this virus.
These have been hectic weeks changing focus to this new task, directing medical detachments to hospitals and care homes, as well as sending logistic and medical planners to a wide range of organisations. Military advice has been particularly effective, for example, establishing a national coordination mechanism for distributing Intensive Care patients using experience from our Afghanistan-mission. At this moment it seems that the spread of the virus is slowing down; however, we need to be prepared for all scenarios. It has been very rewarding to contribute to fighting COVID-19 with dedicated colleagues and seeing concrete results.
COL Petrus J. Hagenaars
Distance Class of 2014
International Fellow – Netherlands