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Kees Matthijssen was born on June 3, 1961 in Zevenbergen. He started his military career in 1981 and has now ended his career - after more than 42 years - at the rank of lieutenant general.

Kees is married and lives with his wife in Gelderland. Together they have a son and a daughter, and four grandchildren. Sports are important to him to stay physically and mentally fit. He has a broad interest in sports and is a very active cyclist himself. 


After completing his military service, he started officer training at the Royal Military Academy from which he graduated in 1986. He then fulfilled his first operational positions, including being a company commander, where he commanded both an armored infantry company and, after obtaining the red beret, an airmobile company.

In the latter position, Matthijssen and his company were deployed in 1995, as part of the 13 Infantry Battalion (Air Assault) Regiment Stootstromen Prins Bernhard, to Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the UNPROFOR mission (United Nations Protection Force). He witnessed the fall of the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995.

Afterwards he was, among other things, S4 (Head of Logistics) of the 11 Infantry Battalion (Air Assault) Grenadiers and Hunters Guard and subsequently attended Higher Military Training. From 2000-2003 he was G3 (Head of Operations) of 11 Air Brigade, which achieved its operational readiness status during that period. In early 2001, he was part of the Dutch Liaison team at the US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, for three months during the first phase of the ISAF mission (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan.

In the period 2003-2006, Matthijssen commanded 13 Infantry Battalion (Air Assault). With this unit, reinforced to approximately 1,000 soldiers, he was deployed to Iraq. This was followed by a posting to the Defense Staff. After his promotion to colonel, Matthijssen commanded Taskforce Uruzgan (TFU), a unit of more than 2,000 soldiers, in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan from July 2008 to February 2009. In addition to approximately 1,500 Dutch people, the unit consisted of soldiers from Australia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France and Singapore.

From 2010 to 2013, he was Director of Staff (executive chief of staff) of the Army Staff, where he was responsible, among other things, for program management for the implementation of the budget cuts of the Rutte-I cabinet. This was followed by a position as military advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  In 2014, in the rank of brigadier general, he was given command of 11 Air Brigade (Air Assault) December 7. In 2015, this brigade formed the core of the NATO response force and with it Matthijssen led the

command of NATO's first Very High readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in the testing phase of this new NATO concept. 

From 2017 to 2019, after promotion to major general, he was Deputy Commander of the Royal Netherlands Army, a position in which he was also Governor of the Capital and Inspector of Reservists of the Royal Netherlands Army. In 2019, Kees Matthijssen was appointed to NATO Allied Joint Forces Command Brunssum as Deputy Chief of Staff Plans.

From January 2022 to January 2023, he was Force Commander of the UN mission MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), at the rank of Lieutenant General. He commanded almost 14,000 soldiers from 60 different countries.


In addition to his bachelor's degree from the Military Academy, he completed Higher Military Education in 1998. In 2010, he attended the US Army War College and received a Master of Strategic Studies degree. In 2019 he completed the United Nations Senior Mission Leader course.


In 2023, Kees was royally decorated and appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau with swords for his services to the armed forces, his commitment to the rehabilitation of Dutchbat III, his involvement in the Invictus Games and his role in the creation of the Freedom Ride .

In 2019, Kees received the German Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr in Gold for his special efforts in several positions for German-Dutch cooperation. In 2009 he received the Slovak Peacekeeping Service Medal for Slovak-Dutch cooperation in Uruzgan.

In 2021, Matthijssen received a high French award, officer in the Légion d'honneur, for his special efforts in several positions for French-Dutch cooperation.


Nationally, he received the Decoration of Merit as a member of Dutchbat III in 2022, which was awarded by the Prime Minister in recognition of the way in which Dutchbat did everything possible in impossible circumstances during the attack and fall of the Srebrenica enclave. in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


For his role as Director of Staff, he received the Medal in gold from the Commander of the Army for his services in that position, in which he was also responsible for the program management for the implementation within the Army of the cuts as ordered by the Rutte I Cabinet. .


Kees Matthijssen has also been awarded: - UN United Nations Bosnia UNPROFOR Medal - UN United Nations MINUSMA Mali Medal - Commemorative Medal UN Peacekeeping Operation - Bosnia-Hercegovina - The Dutch Commemorative Medal Peace Operations with clasp Iraq, ISAF and Mali - NATO non-Article 5 medal.

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