The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of the Netherlands in Western Europe and the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean. The European part of the Kingdom has a surface area of 16.034 square miles. In comparison this is approx. half the size of the US state Maine. To the north and west the country is bordered by the North Sea, to the east by Germany and to the south by Belgium. 1/3 of the Netherlands is below sea level, hence knowledge of fight against water is paramount.
With 16,4 million inhabitants and an average of 174 people per square mile, the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The vast majority of the population lives in what is called the Â´RandstadÂ´, the urban area surrounding and including the four main cities in the west of the country: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy in 1815, with a parliamentary
system in which the government is formed by the Sovereign and the ministers.
Elections are held every 4 year. Since 1980, Queen Beatrix is the head of state.
For historical reasons, the seat of government is in The Hague, but Amsterdam is
the capital city.
As head of the Defense Staff, the Commander in Chief directs the deployed military units. He is also responsible for the operational commanders of the Services, who are in turn responsible for the primary duty of the armed forces, i.e. providing combat power and all that that entails, such as activation and support.
The number of assigned troops and civilians of each Service is:
Support to the Global War on Terror
Dutch foreign policy mainly focuses on the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United Nations (UN).
The Netherlands was one of the first members of NATO when it was founded in 1949. NATO is still considered to be the cornerstone of Dutch security policy. The core objective of that policy, of which development cooperation forms an integral part, is the promotion of peace, freedom and prosperity throughout the world. The Netherlands wants to contribute actively to resolving security problems both within Europe and beyond.
The international security environment drastically changed after 9-11. The terrorist attack had its influence on national security policies of all NATO members. For the first time in history article 5 of the NATO treaty came into force.
" The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered as an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area ".
Based upon this article, the Netherlands have both politically and military supported the international Global War on Terrorism. Taking the number of population into consideration, the Netherlands has made a relative large contribution to this global war. Besides that, several measures were taken to enhance the national security.
Support to Operation Enduring FreedomThe Netherlands has contributed militarily to Operation Enduring Freedom since 2001 with Marine, Army and Air force capabilities. Dutch liaison teams are stationed at HQ USCENTCOM in Tampa and HQ CTF 150/CIFC in Bahrein.
In September 2002, 6 Dutch F16 fighter planes and 1 KDC-10 were stationed at Manas (Kyrgistan). Together with Norwegian and Danish F-16s, this 450 Dutch personnel unit supported operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Since 2001, the Royal Netherlands Navy has contributed to ENDURING FREEDOM. During several deployments, maritime capacity, consisting of a submarine and/or a frigat were stationed in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula. A detachment of marines made it possible to conduct Maritime Interdiction Operations.
Dutch Army, Airforce and Marines worked together in a Special Forces Task Group (SFTG) that was deployed in southern Kandahar province from April 2005 to April 2006. This unique joint unit of 250 men was made up of members of the Army SF Regiment (Korps Commandotroepen), supplemented by SF-marines and a 85-member helicopter detachment with 4 Chinooks.
This overall support of ENDURING FREEDOM cannot be regarded without mentioning the International Security Assistence Force (ISAF). In accordance with the Dutch policy, ISAF, being a NATO lead operation that was based upon an UN resolution, was strongly supported. So beside the support of ENDURING FREEDOM, in every phase of the ISAF deployment, the Netherlands Armed Forces participated.
Initially ISAF's most important goal was to support the Afghan interim government in maintaining security. At first ISAF operated only in Kabul and its immediate vicinity. The Netherlands contributed to this first deployment in December 2001 with an airmobile infantry company, supported by Army SF.
Being an ISAF troop contribution nation, a number of Dutch officers and NCO's continuously fulfill various functions in the international HQ ISAF at KABUL. The number of Dutch personnel in this HQ increased in 2003 during the deployment of the Netherlands/German HRF HQ as HQ ISAF III.
A new UN resolution in October 2003 extended ISAF task to other parts of Afghanistan. Under ISAF stage II the Netherlands deployed a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) under RC-N command in the BAGLAN province. This PRT, initially manned by Air Force personnel, was deployed from October 2004 until October 2006. From August 2004 until February 2005 Dutch MG Leo van den Born was DCOM ISAF VI.
The Royal Netherlands Airforce supported ISAF with the deployment of 4 AH-64D to Kabul International Airport from march 2004 till march 2005. After that period 8 F-16's were stationed at Kabul until September 2006 when they moved to Kandahar Air Field.
Netherlands largest military commitment in Afghanistan was a result of the following extension of ISAFs AOR. As of the implementation of ISAF stage III, the Netherlands took responsibility as a lead nation for Regional Command South (RC-S), together with Canada and United Kingdom. By consequence, a proportionate number of Dutch personnel is attached to the RC-S HQ at Kandahar. As of October 2006 untill May 2007 the Dutch MG Ton van Loon is COM RC-S. During this period about 200 Dutch officers and NCO work at RC-S HQ in KANDAHAR. Also, as of February 2007, Dutch MG Freek Meulman is DCOM AIR ISAF X at HQ ISAF in KABUL.
Being one of the three major RC-S contributing nations, the Netherlands deployed a Task Force (TF-U) to the province Uruzgan. The TF-U most important bases are at TARIN KOWT and DEH RAHWOD.
This TF-U consists of a battalion-sized battle group (BG) in which both mechanized and airmobile infantry are available besides a battalion-sized PRT. The total strength of TF-U is 1200 pax. Engineers support both the TF-U as well as the civilian population. Firesupport can be delivered by an artillery element, equipped with the modern 155 mm Panzerhouwitser 2000. COM TF-U also has Army SF at disposal. A Role 2 hospital facility is available at TARIN KOWT.
With this unit, COM TFU is capable to "rebuild where possible" and to "fight where necessary". In this way both the PRT and the BG have been successful.
Besides that, an Air Task Force was stationed at KANDAHAR. This ATF consists of 6 F-16 Falcon Fighters, 5 AS-532 Cougar helicopters and 6 AH-64D Apache helicopters. The AH-64D are stationed at TARIN KOWT. Both the Transport - as well as Air Fire Support capacity of the Netherlands ATF has proven to be indispensable for the above mentioned TF-U. Of course also other RC-S or ISAF units have been supported by the ATF. The 5 Cougar helicopters are planned to be replaced by 3 Chinook in may 2007.
Since December 2001, during several periods of (re)deployment of Dutch personnel, the Netherlands Airforce deployed both strategic and tactical air-transport capacity by putting KDC-10 and C-130 into action.
Also from the first deployment in December 2001 until februari 2007, the Netherlands Contingent Command was stationed at KABUL International Airport. As from February 2007 the Contingent Command is transferred to KANDAHAR.
Last but not least, a national logistic support element is stationed at KANDAHAR.
In 2007, the total number of Dutch troops, deployed in Afghanistan is approx. 2000.
Support to Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Dutch government gave political support to the military action by the United States and the United Kingdom against Saddam Hussein's regime.
The Netherlands did not play a military role in this war against Iraq. At the request of the NATO ally Turkey, the Netherlands has however sent three Patriot units to assist in the air defence of Turkey.
More substantial Dutch military commitment in Iraq was based upon the UN resolution 1483, which calls on all member states to help reconstruct Iraq.
In July 2003, a Dutch battlegroup (BG) of 650 Marines and 450 Support troops was deployed in response to a request for assistance from the British, who control the southern part of the Iraq. A Royal Netherlands Air Force detachment with 6 x AH-64D was attached to this BG. Being equipped with advanced sensor systems enabling air reconnaissance missions to be flown by night and day, this rotary wing support was very usefull.
The Dutch BG was responsible for security and stabiliation in the province of Al-Muthanna. Besides that, the 1100 men and women contributed to humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. Training Iraqi security personnel was also an important part of the mission. In 2004, the Marines were succeeded by an Army BG. The deployment in Al-Muthanna ended in March 2005. In total over 7.500 men and women have been deployed with this mission.
In June 2004 the Iraqi interim government asked NATO for assistance in training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called on all member states to contribute.
In 2005, The Netherlands provided 25 military service personnel for the NATO training mission in Iraq (NTM-I), which was initially led by Dutch MG Carel Hilderink. They were deployed in the International Zone in Baghdad, where they helped to develop Iraqi security institutions. In 2007, this NATO-mission is still ongoing. Of course, other member states also contributed, by consequence the number of Netherlands participants was decreased to 14.
In 2007, the Dutch participation of 14 servicemen with NTM-I is ongoing.
Humanitarian Support to the people of Afghanistan/Iraq
According to The Netherlands policy, the development co-operation is integrated in the efforts to promote of peace, freedom and prosperity throughout the world.
The three letters D (Defense, Development and Diplomacy) are the symbol of the Netherlands point of view regarding this support. The development of a country cannot improve as long as there is no stability and safety. That's why there allways is co-operation between military - and humanitarian efforts to enhance the development.By nature, this co-operation exists at government level, where the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of development cooperation and the minister of defence coordinate the national policy. Since 2001, The Netherlands has contributed hundreds of millions euro's to humanitarian help of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. This support was given in different ways. For instance, the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) is an important organisation that received millions.
This co-operation is also effective at the level of a deployed military unit. The deployment of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and a Battlegroup (BG), both as part of the same TaskForce Uruzgan is a perfect example of this "3xD-policy". For instance: after the BG has provided a secure and safe environment in a village, the PRT will enter and assist in building a school. Also medical support will be given to the population. In this way the secure environment is stabilized.
So also on this level the 3 D's are important. Both humanitarian help and military operations are necessary in order to develop and defend. These both tasks will always have to be accomplished in a diplomatic way, with respect for the local population.