Meet Tim De Zitter, a Belgian Expert Working on Multinational Procurement of Munitions

 In Industry, Acquisition, & Innovation, CEE, Defense, Air, Germany, France, NATO

Tim De Zitter is a system man­ag­er at the Belgian Ministry of Defence. He works with experts from other NATO Allies to pro­cure land combat mis­sile and rocket sys­tems for use on the bat­tle­field.

“The project ensures NATO Allies can share muni­tions, and pur­chase and store them togeth­er and there­by lower over­all costs by making use of economies of scale,” he explains. “It also allows Allied forces to oper­ate even more seam­less­ly togeth­er.”

Founded by Belgium, and led by France since January 2020, this multi­na­tion­al NATO ini­tia­tive is known as the Land Battle Decisive Munitions (LBDM) project. Currently 20 Allies par­tic­i­pate – Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom – as well as part­ner coun­tries Austria, Finland and Sweden.

Munition stored in a ware­house

Multinational projects to boost capa­bil­i­ties

To carry out its mis­sions and tasks, NATO needs Allies to invest in inter­op­er­a­ble, cut­ting-edge and cost-effec­tive equip­ment. To that end, NATO sup­ports Allies in iden­ti­fy­ing and devel­op­ing multi­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tive projects to deliv­er the key defence capa­bil­i­ties needed.

The LBDM ini­tia­tive is one of many exam­ples of ini­tia­tives to pro­mote more effec­tive and rapid multi­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion.

Other projects cover key areas such as train­ing struc­tures for pilots in sup­port of Special Operations Forces, acqui­si­tion and oper­a­tion of multi­na­tion­al air­plane fleets for mar­itime mis­sions, cargo trans­port and air-to-air refu­elling, or the intro­duc­tion of mar­itime unmanned sys­tems.

“The NATO Land Battle Decisive Munitions project start­ed in the summer of 2018 when NATO Defence Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding. And it took only half a year before the first ship­ment of multi­na­tion­al­ly acquired anti-tank muni­tions came forth out of this ini­tia­tive,” remarks Tim.

Among other options, the muni­tions can be pro­cured through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) on behalf of Allies and part­ners involved in the project. Located in Luxembourg, NSPA is NATO’s main ser­vices provider when it comes to pro­cure­ment of equip­ment, deliv­er­ing a broad spec­trum of inte­grat­ed capa­bil­i­ties for the Alliance, its member coun­tries and part­ners. Currently, the Agency is also play­ing an impor­tant role in respond­ing to the ongo­ing COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, by assist­ing NATO Allies and part­ners with key relief acqui­si­tion and trans­port. 

Ensuring the desired effect on the ground

Tim is a former pla­toon com­man­der, who was also deployed to Afghanistan. He likes his cur­rent job a lot, in par­tic­u­lar the diver­si­ty of his activ­i­ties. “Not a single day is the same. One day you are talk­ing with the sol­diers in the squad, the next day you are doing a project on sim­u­la­tion, the week after you are abroad for a con­fer­ence with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from dif­fer­ent nations.”

Artillery round

His main moti­va­tion though is to ensure cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, which in this instance means making sure the sol­diers in the field have access to the exact capa­bil­i­ties they need.  “Everything we do has the objec­tive to allow them to do their job with the best means and under the best cir­cum­stances pos­si­ble.”

Land battle deci­sive muni­tions vary in type, size and weight.

“From grenades, to tank and artillery shells to sur­face-to-sur­face mis­siles, what is expect­ed on the bat­tle­field is the deci­sive effect: to neu­tralise a poten­tial adversary’s capa­bil­i­ty, to create a smoke screen in order to pro­tect your own sol­diers and capa­bil­i­ties or for exam­ple to light up the envi­ron­ment during an oper­a­tion at night,” says Tim.

Tim’s family is very proud of him. “For them the most impor­tant is that I’m happy with the things I’m doing in my job.” In his spare time, Tim likes work­ing his garden. “The range of veg­eta­bles and fruit in my garden goes from pota­toes, over spinach, onions and leeks, to all sorts of cucum­bers and pump­kins. And of course the deli­cious pro­duce from my garden is shared with family and friends, just as we make Allies share their muni­tions togeth­er.



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