When Lt Col Tom van Breda ends his tour here in EUFOR Althea, he will be coming to the end of a 34 year military career, as this is also his last posting before retiring from the Royal Netherlands Army. Lt Col van Breda is currently the Senior Staff Advisor at the Joint Staff of AF BiH but he first deployed to the Balkans in 1992 during the war. At that time he worked as a monitor in the European Community Monitor Mission (ECMM) ensuring the compliance of the Vance-Owen Plan, specifically the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the warring factions. He was deployed with the so-called Krajinas, from Knin to Vukovar, but also in the area around the IEBL (Inter-Entity Border Line), where he survived two airstrikes from a Mig-21!
In 1999 he was back in the Balkans, appointed to HQ SFOR in Ilidza, Sarajevo as Chief of Admin and Special Projects for the Engineer Branch. At that time he also chaired the NATO Board of Inquiry and managed to retrieve a few vehicles, a complete kitchen and several digital cameras that had went missing! Later in that tour he was one of a few personnel who were tasked to prepare the Balkan Summit in Sarajevo, which was attended by several world leaders including former US President, Bill Clinton.
In 2001 van Breda was deployed to Tuzla in the Multi National Division. Along with his driver he was the only Dutch officer serving with the 3rd US Infantry Division. This unit was replaced by the 29th Division, lead by Major General Blum, and after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York took place at this time, the whole daily routine of that unit changed radically.
In 2013 Lt Col van Breda was supposed to go to South Sudan to serve with UNMISS but due to UN regulations he did not get permission for this. Lt Col van Breda was not too concerned with this as this meant a return to Sarajevo, where he now works as the Senior Staff Advisor at the Joint Staff AF BiH in down-town Sarajevo. Among many other projects, he has recently been involved in the development of the new working methods to build the capacity of AF BiH by using projects, a proposal which was positively received in Brussels when he introduced it last year. As a result of this initiative, all the Embedded Advisory Teams (EATs) are now drafting their projects based on the AF BiH needs under the supervision of the Capacity Building Branch management team. Lt Col van Breda began his long career in the Royal Netherlands Army as an Air Defence Officer in 1980 and besides holding many troop commanding posts he has also been deployed at staff level several times. His last position was with “1 German/Netherland Corps G3” in Münster, Germany, where although primarily responsible for Air Space Management, he also designed several high level exercises.
During his 34 year career, apart from a number of tours to the BALKANS, he was also deployed operationally to IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN and RWANDA. After this mission Lt Col van Breda will retire from the Royal Netherlands Army after 34 years of service and run his own Training, Advisory and Consultancy company for business managers and governmental organizations and continue with other interests he has, outside of the military, such as with his membership of the Board of Advisors at FREEDOMLAB future studies in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.