Dick Berlijn was born in Amsterdam in 1950. He is born as the first son in a military family, because father Dick Berlijn senior was also a general at the Royal Air Force.
After obtaining his HBS-A diploma, he wanted to go into civil aviation, but eventually went to the Military Academy in Breda, where he could also express his fascination for flying. That is where his 38-year military career started unintentionally. In 2000 he achieved the highest position in the Air Force, commander of the Air Forces, and from 2004 to 2008 he became the highest defense officer - first as Chief of Defense Staff, then, since 2005, as Commander of the Armed Forces, a newly defined position.
Under his leadership the mission in Uruzgan came about and he experienced the most turbulent Defense times since the fall of Srebrenica. The mission in Uruzgan, with the aim of strengthening the legitimate rule of law in Afghanistan, is seen by fewer and fewer people in the Netherlands as a meaningful and successful mission - and this is undoubtedly an important topic for discussion tonight. Just like the balance that Berlin had to find between the political desire for peacekeeping missions and the wishes of the organization that suffered from budget cuts that went on and on. And that while Berlin is an enthusiastic advocate for the purchase of the new combat aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter as replacement for the F 16s.