Popular Dutch military can't afford new recruits


AMSTERDAM | Tue Aug 3, 2010 10:14pm IST

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch military has an unusual recruiting problem -- it has too many aspiring soldiers and not enough money.

The Dutch Defense Ministry said on Tuesday it will have to postpone bringing in an additional 467 recruits because budgetary constraints mean the government cannot afford to take them on this year as planned.

"Defense explained the situation in writing and in a meeting and offered apologies for the state of affairs," the ministry said in a statement, adding that the recruits largely understood the situation.

The Dutch military is one of the country's more respected institutions, and the all-volunteer force regularly advertises for new soldiers in all branches. Unlike most other armed forces around the world, it is also unionized, which is why ads often promote taking a "job" with the military.

Recruiting continues for technical and medical functions, the ministry said, and it plans to begin its recruitment program soon for 2011.

The Netherlands began pulling its 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan last Sunday, the consequence of a political dispute that brought down the government this year.

The country is also grappling with a budget deficit at more than twice the prescribed euro zone levels, with the next government expected to make as much as 20 billion euros ($26.14 billion) in budget cuts.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz, editing by Paul Casciato)