Mr. Verbruggen joined the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1960 at the Royal Netherlands Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1963. After finishing his flight training in 1965 he served in different capacities in the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Arm, starting in the aircraft carrier HNLMS "Karel Doorman". He then followed helicopter training and flew Breguet Atlantique until 1977. Lieutenant Commander Verbruggen served as aide-de -camp to SACLANT in Norfolk (VA) from 1977 till 1979 and attended the Royal Netherlands Naval Staff College upon return to the Netherlands.
After, having been Executive Officer in a frigate he was promoted Commander and put in charge of all helicopter matters for the Royal Netherlands Navy at MOD level. From 1984 until 1986 he was in command of HNLMS "Callenburgh". As a Captain he was assigned as Military Advisor to the Netherlands Permanent Representative to NATO from 1986-1989. In 1989 he joined the NATO International Staff as Director, Council Operations and Information Systems.
In 1990 he was tasked in addition with the co-ordination of verification between the 16 NATO nations for all arms control treaties. This task was transferred to Political Affairs Division in February 1993. As of 1st May 1993, he was appointed Deputy Executive Secretary.
He was appointed Executive Secretary as of 1st August 1993.
Mr. Verbruggen is married to Henny Palmen and has two sons.