Amsterdam: As part of spending cuts aimed at balancing the budget of 2015, the Dutch government will cut 12, 000 military jobs or more than one in six of all armed forces personnel, officials said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country was making ‘difficult choices’ but still expects to be able to contribute to military and peacekeeping missions as a member of NATO and the UN.

In recent years, Dutch soldiers have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and on anti-piracy missions. Dutch F-16s are now serving with NATO forces above Libya.

The PM said that after the cuts the country would still be able to engage in foreign missions, including combat missions, but also added that they would not be able to continue such missions "for years" at a time.

The country's previous government collapsed in 2010 in a dispute over whether to again extend its mission with 1,400 troops in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, who had been stationed there since 2006. The troops were pulled after the government collapsed.

Defence Minister Hans Hillen said up to 6,000 of the jobs lost could be forced firings, but his ministry is still researching the possibility of shifting soldiers into other jobs in the country's police forces, among others.

(Agencies)