When you think in terms of enemies, you will have them...

An M4B-candidate tells...

The common thread in my military career is simple: cooperation is the foundation for any form of life, but when you think in terms of enemies, then you have enemies.

Besides hereditary predisposition, for the formation of each individual: education, training, experience and relationships are of special interest. Even the language that one learns to speak, largely determines the mind. Realizing that, every dissenter is to explain! Condemning others is based on the learned way of thinking and also others will judge us based on their own education, training and experience. One who is aware of this simple rule, recognizes that hostility is not necessary. A mother who brings up her child's with hatred against other communities, should not be surprised that later it will get killed in an unnecessary war. Is this understanding solely based on military experience? Maybe, but it leads to wisdom and the realization that cooperation is always possible if one knows how other people think and why they think that way. This insight is useful everywhere, and a military can propagate that very well based on his experiences.

Colleagues were already attending the excellent education system of the Dutch armed forces, where each decade of experience is followed by a training in order to successfully operate at a higher level. Soon after finishing the military academy in Breda I, as Logistics Lieutenant, was responsible for everything at the military unit except the actual combat training. All the logistics, the kitchen and the supply of food, fuel and ammunition, but also the maintenance of vehicles and other materials were carelessly left to a young lieutenant. I learned that someone who receives trust, can perform well. I applied that rule too and it was striking how - down to the lowest level-  most Dutch conscripts function excellent when you treat them as you want to be treated yourself. Of course there was some need of control, but I prefer to call it attention, because all that gets attention, grows.

In all my following positions, which I was to fulfil for almost three years each, I was able to give confidence and set a good example to others and that proved equally effective in my work and in the upbringing of our children. After Higher Military Education the positions got different and the game became more subtle. They talked about the snake pit at the Ministry, referring to the battle between the Navy, Army, Air Force and later the military police to get a part of the ever-shrinking budgets. However, cooperation was also perfectly possible if you are willing to learn more about the interests of all involved and continue to hold the common goal. It is about the functioning of the whole organization and not about the interest of a single Armed Forces unit. Resistance to change, fear of the loss of existing relationships and continue the pursuit of special interests come naturally in every organization. From experience I can convince people to look wider and move flexible in order to survive. In nature, bamboo raises after each storm, but even the sturdiest oak will get uprooted eventually.

Instead of the 'tertiary education' that Defence provides to higher officials, I was with 39 other International Fellows, to hold a mirror up to 360 American peers at the U.S. Army War College. The name of this institution perhaps give you food for thought, but under the logo it says: "Not to Promote war, but to preserve peace". Nevertheless, it was hard to spread the concepts of preventive defence and defence, diplomacy and development. Many of my American colleagues thought that by force a victory can be achieved. By now they know that dictators can only remain in power for some time by using violence. I explained them that the structure, doctrine, leadership and training of the armed forces must be sufficiently flexible in order to allow a more diplomatic role of soldiers. Actually, this may prevent that military force is considered necessary, provided that the interests of all stakeholders are considered seriously. The final sentence of many argument was: "To preserve the peace, One should not only prepare for war, but foremost invested in alliances and mutual understanding." This universal truth is applicable for every company!

Back in the Netherlands, the following defence memorandum was published and transformed the armed forces more into the present flexible organization of professional soldiers in various international contexts attempting to maintain peace. Using civilian information technology, systems and networks were rapidly developed, which are also of use in the field and under the most diverse conditions. They became increasingly aware that knowledge of the local rulers are of the utmost importance in order to be able to achieve some effect. This means information, not only about "the enemy", but also about all stakeholders with interests in the area of ​​our responsibility. In Brussels, at the EU and NATO, I found that this principle fully applies: if we want to achieve something, we must take into account each other's interests and jointly seek the agreed goal. This is only possible if one pays attention to each other, invests in genuine relationships and is willing to move flexible to the inevitable changes to conduct a peaceful evolution of humanity. Then everyone can perform very well, also in business.


This candidate is available as  Change Manager, Logistics Manager/Director or as Adviser Information Technology and/or Cyber Defence.