Know Your: Chief of Staff – EAG Colonel Ron Hagemeijer RNLAF

How do you feel about taking over as the Chief of Staff of the EAG?
Excited. The objective of the EAG and its output/products, is to contribute to a large extent to the challenges EAG nations face with their ever shrinking military budgets. Enhanced interoperability is not a luxury anymore, it is a necessity nowadays. To be part of an international organisation that is helping member nations to improve their operational capabilities through enhanced interoperability, is challenging, exciting but also rewarding. To make sure that the staff of the EAG is doing their utmost to come up with ideas and practical solutions to assist member nations in their efforts to enhance their international interoperability, is something I am looking forward to.

What do you think your biggest challenge will be?
Again, we are here to help the member nations. I will put all my efforts and energy into the process to transform good ideas (agreed by nations) into practical solutions within a acceptable timeframe.

Did you choose to come into the role of the COS?  If so, why?
No, I was asked by the Director of Operation RNLAF. The Netherlands was next in line to fill the post of COS EAG after Italy. The “board of RNLAF Generals” wanted a Colonel with operational, command and international experience to fill this post. When I was, I told them I would be very happy to take the job. Particularly because the mission of the EAG is – especially in today’s world –  of paramount importance. So I will be working for an organisation that will make a difference and is relevant.

How was your move and transition into UK life?
Smooth. Both my wife and I are enjoying the typical British way of life. There is a lot to explore and enjoy in the UK.

What are your plans during your time in the UK?  Where are you planning to visit, etc?
Because I was never stationed in the UK before, my wife and I are planning to explore the UK during our stay here. The more we talk to people, the more we are convinced that we need more time to visit all the nice places in the UK.

What do you think the future holds for you?
This will be my last post before I will retire. I did not make up my mind yet what to do next. However, I like to further develop myself in areas that interest me, like photography and cultural anthropology. But staying healthy and enjoying life will certainly be part of it.

Wycombe World decided to catch up with Col Hagemeijer to find out what he’s been doing since being posted to High Wycombe in the summer.

Have you had a chance to visit places in the UK? If so, is there a place you particularly enjoyed visiting?
Yes we have. And the more places my wife and I visit, the more we are amazed about the amount of cultural sites and other places of interest there are in the UK. We did visit Oxford, Stonehenge, Windsor and of course London already, but are also enjoying picturesque places within the Chilterns. We particularly like English Heritage locations. As a matter of fact we recently became members of the English Heritage Organisation. We will certainly use all our available free time to visit as many places as possible in the UK. You have a beautiful country and are right to be proud of it.

British food has improved greatly over the past few years, and now enjoys a good reputation.  Is there a particular dish you enjoy, that isn’t widely available in the Netherlands?
Yes, British food is more than fish & chips. What we really like is chutney, particularly the spicy one. But also I could eat curries all day long. Indian curries or the creamy coconut Thai curry. “Your” Sunday Roast Beef is very good, but also the English pies (steak and ale, etc) – delicious; we tend to eat them a lot.

We will certainly try Yorkshire pudding, Christmas pudding and of course Haggis, although I am not sure what to expect eating Haggis. I did notice that English traditional food is kind of heavy (English breakfast!!). Eating English food with a nice pint of beer is not particular low calorie!

Finally, what characterizes the British way of life? Is it the people, the food, the warm beer, the countryside, driving on the left, or a mixture of all of these things?You must know that this is my first posting in the UK, so my British experience in minimal. The thing that struck us was the friendliness of British people. People in our neighbourhood are kind, and even in traffic, British people tend to be “easy going”. We have not noticed any aggression in traffic (yet!).

Pub life is also nice. People are open and do not hesitate to start a conversation with you. Our weird accent makes them curious probably. So we are adapting to the British way of life and spend a lot of time in pubs.  Well, mentioning your beer…the good thing is that there are a lot of local breweries, so lots of different kinds of beer. But a bit more foam and a bit colder would make it perfect.

All in all, my wife and I are really enjoying our stay here in the UK. We are happy and feel at home.

Right now at the end of my career (this is my last posting before I retire) we see this posting in the UK as the icing on the cake. We will certainly enjoy our stay, the British way of life and its countryside.