in which the services had to adapt their structure and/or culture as a consequence of societal developments. That might say something about a rather conservative state of mind typical of those who are attracted to the military profession. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands no research on this subject was done, and therefore one can only speculate about this theme. The introduction of the AVF both implies a certain risk and at the same time offers new opportunities. The risk is that this new professional organization might lean more heavily on typical military traditions and the characteristic military culture. That might endanger the social integration of the armed forces, because important groups in society, like women and ethnic minorities, are not likely to consider a military career. On the other hand, because of, for example, a decreasing birthrate in the Netherlands, the services are in no position to neglect these groups and probably will need them desperately to fill the ranks. In that way, the forthcoming AVF might become a better representation of Dutch society than were the old conscriptionbased armed forces.
Such a representation will surely help to preserve the stable civil-military relationship characteristic of the Netherlands in the beginning of the 1990s. That stability is reflected in the latest opinion poll,46 in which a remarkable 74% of the population endorsed the necessity of the armed forces. Remarkable, because a direct and serious military threat to the Netherlands no longer exists. This high figure can be explained by looking at the broad political and societal appraisal of the new missions of the armed forces, namely, peacekeeping and peace enforcing in a United Nations context. Dutch participation in these operations is endorsed by all political parties and by 72% of the population, while merely 8% disagree. Of course, these figures should be looked upon with care because they can easily be influenced, for instance, when it becomes clear that these peacekeeping operations are not so successful as expected and hoped for. On the other hand, seldom has there been a moment in Dutch history in which the consensus about the necessity and the form of the armed forces and about the missions that they should fulfill was as broad as nowadays. Nothing lasts forever, but this consensus offers a good indication of the present degree of the social and political integration of the Dutch armed forces. Furthermore, it shows that the basic elements to preserve this situation into the twenty-first century are there. It is now up to the politicians and the military to determine how best to proceed.