TNO has taken the lead in creating a new capacity for the Netherlands armed forces, namely operational analysts. Their task is making military missions more efficient and effective by using their scientific knowledge, experience, models, methods and tools. This capacity consists of reserve officers who, when needed, are embedded and deployed with a military unit. These specialists were deployed in missions such as the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
Since 1954 TNO has run a department engaged in military operational research. Over the years this work has kept pace with changes in the armed forces. Now that Dutch military personnel have a permanent presence in crisis areas, it is only logical that this TNO department includes the provision of support for these missions in its remit. Other nations already have experience with embedding scientists to support deployed military units. Thanks to its international relationships, TNO has been able to track developments worldwide concerning the deployment of operational analysts. This has enabled TNO to recognise the possibilities for the Netherlands armed forces. By working together with NATO, TNO has been able to train a number of its employees to become operational analysis reserves.
In 2003 during the ISAF mission in Kabul, Dutch operational analysts were deployed by the Netherlands armed forces for the first time. The successful contribution of these TNO employees to this mission led to the establishment of a group of reserve officers employed by TNO, who have thorough knowledge of military operations. They were embedded in the headquarters of the first German/Netherlands Corps to support them during operations and exercises. When, in 2015, The Netherlands decided to play a leading role in the Afghan province of Uruzgan, these reserve officers were called upon. The main tasks assigned to these operational analysts were to determine the mission's desired effects, to measure progress and to advise on the execution of the operation.
Transfer of knowledge to defence
The need for operational analysts was larger than TNO could provide, therefore the group of reserve officers was expanded with specialists from outside TNO. Throughout the years the operational analysts have proven their added value. Nowadays operational analysis is an essential capacity in each exercise of the first German/Netherlands Corps and the combat brigades of the Royal Netherlands Army and Navy and in operations where The Netherlands has a leading role.
Every reserve officer operational analysis is called up for support for several weeks a year. The knowledge that he or she thereby gains, contributes to more effective research for Defence. Therefore, TNO will continue to support the operational analysts working for Defence. TNO will continue to develop suitable models and tools and facilitate her employees to become and function as reserve officer operational analysis.