Chief of Defence – Netherlands
General Tom Middendorp was born in Rheden, the Netherlands, in 1960. He began his military career in 1979 as a cadet at the Royal Military Academy in Breda and graduated in 1983 as an officer in the Engineer Corps.
After several operational postings in the Netherlands and Germany in (armoured) engineer units, he followed the Staff Service Course and attended Advanced Military Studies at the Army Staff College.
In 1993, he was posted at the Army Staff, at the Policy Development Division where he designed the transformation plans for all NLD barracks to make them suited for an all-volunteer army.
In 1997, he graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, USA, followed by a posting as an assistant to the Vice Chief of Defence. In 1999, he moved back to Germany, this time to the 1 (GE/NL) Corps in Münster as Head of the National Plans Office, after which he assumed command of 101 Engineer Battalion in Wezep. Parts of his unit participated in several operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.
In March 2004, he was appointed as a senior policy adviser to the Minister of Defence. Here he was responsible for all policy development regarding the national deployment of the armed forces. In cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice, he developed several policy papers on the use of military forces for disaster response, border protection and counter-terrorism.
In November 2006, he deployed to Afghanistan as the deputy NATO Senior Civil Representative in Afghanistan, working directly for the NATO Secretary General and responsible for the coordination of the civil-political aspects of the mission. In January 2008, he assumed command over 13 Mechanized Brigade in Oirschot after a short assignment as Head of the Policy Division of the Royal Netherlands Army. In the period from February to August 2009, he was again deployed to Afghanistan, this time as the commander of the multinational Taskforce Uruzgan (TFU 6).
On 24 December 2009, he was promoted to Major General upon his appointment as Director of Operations at the Defence Staff in The Hague. After being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in January 2012, he was appointed Chief of Defence on June 28th 2012 and became the highest ranking officer in the Netherlands’ defense organization.