Land Forces

The Land Forces Command is the largest Defence component, with approximately 21,000 employees. The Army is crucial for the task performance of Defence, since peace and security are often enforced on the ground. Since the fall of the Wall, the Army has changed significantly. The army transformed itself from a relatively cumbersome conscripted framework militia army into a lean and mean professional army. The many missions in which the Army participated in over the past decades, catalysed the change. Nowadays, the Army a well-trained organization, worldwide deployable and operating under the most difficult circumstances. The organization possesses modern equipment and highly motivated, capable and mentally strong staff. Headed by independent young leaders this leads to a very flexible company. We have to, because while during the cold war the operation plans were set to the lowest level, it is now uncertain where the next mission will be. Before, there was plenty of time for practicing the principles of stopping attacks, delaying, counterattack, but the mode of action in these modern times is always different and depends on factors such as the terrain, composition and resources of own units, the opponents, the attitude of the population, the intended effects, the distance to the Netherlands, the rules of engagement and the stage of the conflict. To be successful in such a situation, the can-do mentality of the Army men and women is very important. But of course it also requires a lot of expertise. Which is arranged in the so called Weapons and Service Modules. Based on these peer organizations executive operational units (brigades and battalions) are formed. The Weapons and Service Modules are also responsible for maintaining the former regimental traditions. Important, because even today, the regiments are of great importance to the "esprit de corps" and the high morale.

Weapons

  • Infantry

For years, the core of the Army is formed by the infantry. Infantrymen are those who check and occupy an area physically. Even in this modern era that still happens on foot. But that is the only similarity with the foot soldiers like many still know from the example war films about World War II. Today we speak of armoured infantry and airmobile infantry. The armoured infantry is divided into groups of approximately 10 people, traveling in armoured vehicles. The vehicles are equipped with a heavy board canon and also features state of the art equipment for radio and data communication. In addition to communicating with other infantry groups, the higher levels can be informed in real time about the situation on the ground. Advanced night vision equipment makes it possible to act at night. If the infantrymen must leave the vehicle, they have access to various modern weapons and by using "earpieces" they are in contact with each other and with their vehicle. Each group member has one or more specializations, from long distance shooter to medic, from heavy machine gun operator to antitank weapon controller. The airmobile infantrymen are transported by helicopter and therefore are slightly lighter armed. But if necessary, they can also turn out with the armoured infantry vehicles. The commands of the famous Commando Corps are very special infantry. These elite soldiers conduct special operations in small units. It may involve exploration or sabotage in enemy territory, freeing hostages from enemy hands, fighting terror in crisis areas, directing laser guided bombs or evacuating Dutch citizens from sudden ensuing crisis areas. Commands operate on foot, in vehicles, helicopter, parachute or diving equipment. Just like those of the armour and airmobile infantry, their equipment is one of the most modern in the world and is constantly being improved. No unnecessary luxury for the modern "boots on the ground” who take the final decision in each mission.

  • Cavalry

The cavalry and infantry have worked together for centuries. Until recently they formed the fist of the Army. Traditionally, the cavalry was the fast and the formidable. First perched on fast horses, later with heavy tanks like the Leopard A6 with its 120 mm gun. Recently it has changed. The heavy tanks are phased out. The operational need for tanks appear to be less significant in the expeditionary actions. And it’s fair to say that this weapon also has been put aside due to the continuing cuts in the defence budget. Nowadays, the cavalry is principally engaged in gathering information about the opponent. 

  • Artillery

Behind their own lines, the Artillery supports and protects their troops against danger from the ground or from the air by means of indirect fire. The artillerists do that by using crooked path and missile weapons. Their work can be described as: target selection and target detection, fire support planning and fire support coordination, combat target and target evaluation. The used target detection methods vary from: observer to the manoeuvre units who direct the grenades in the right place, to Remotely Piloted Vehicles (drones) and mortar and artillery tracking radars. The "Stinger" missile system and the Armoured howitzer 2000 are examples of their armaments. "Sensor to Shooter" technology ensures that the fire support can be provided quickly, accurately and 24 hours a day. 

  • Genie

Like the Artillery, the Genie has a supporting role. The Genie is probably the most versatile part of the Army. In mission territories engineers build the shelters for their colleagues. Often this involves entire villages including sheltered housing and leisure facilities, maintenance locations, command facilities, roads, airports, water and electricity supply and waste incineration and waste treatment plants. In addition, in a mission area the Genie is responsible for construction, repair and maintenance of the Lines of Communication. The engineers do this by means of bridges and road construction and rehabilitation and / or construction of railway, port and airport facilities. Also, mine clearance and the detection of improvised explosive devices (popularly: IEDs) are among the tasks of the Genie. Finally, protection against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats are assigned to the Genie. Like all Army units, the units that are not on a mission are stand by for so-called National Operations. The police and the Public Prosecutions Department are very often supported in their search for weapons, explosives and drugs. And there is always a CBRN unit available in case of emergencies in the field of CBRN. 

Connection service

The Connection service provides communication between the various components of the Army. The Weapon originates from the Genie. That weapon recognized the great military importance of the invention of the telegraph and founded the Department of Field Telegraph in 1874. Given the growing importance of good connections the Connection Service developed into an independent weapon after World War II. During the Cold War, radio and microwave links were the main resources of the connection service. The last two decades, as in civil society, the communication within the Army increased enormously. Today the Army ICT specialists provide in building and maintaining all telecommunications, like telephone, fax, radio, computer and satellite links. In addition, the Connection service plays an important role in the interception and jamming of the communication of the opponent. 

Branches

  • Logistics

The logistics branch contains profession specializations, which were merged into one branch some years ago, based on efficiency considerations. They involve the Supply and Disposal troops, the Intendancy, the Technical Department, the Health Department and the Administration. Together these disciplines provide operational support to the Army and partly also for the rest of Defence. Among others, the branch is responsible for the displacement of the operating units to the mission areas and is responsible for the daily supply of fuel, ammunition, food, clothing, weapons, spare parts and other necessary resources. The Technical Department is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all Army Material, both on the bases in the Netherlands and in the mission areas. The Health Department is responsible for the medical treatment of soldiers, both in the Netherlands and in the mission areas. For this, the Army has a number of mobile clinics available. They consist of air-conditioned and gas-tight containers, which quickly can be converted into small but very modern hospitals complete with operating rooms, first aid, GP, pharmacy, dentistry and physiotherapy. The "healers" also treat, whenever possible, the people who live in the mission areas. The Administration is responsible for contract formation and the financial settlement. 

  • Other branches

Besides the logistics branch, the Army has a number of smaller specialisms which are classified in their own branch (say profession). These are the Military Legal Service, the Military-Psychological and Sociological Department, the Technical Staff and the LO / Sports. The first two branches speak for themselves. Jurists are indispensable during crisis management operations and that also applies to the military psychologists, during and especially after missions.

The branch of the Technical Staff consists of officers who have completed technical scientific training. Generally they are employed at the Defence Materiel Organisation as a project manager and interlocutor of the defence industry. The branch of Physical Education and Sport reflects the great importance that the Army attaches to the health and fitness of its staff. This should be excellent, because one moment the Army soldier sits behind a desk in Dutch army barracks and another time he or she must perform at 40 degrees above zero in a mission area. For his own safety as well as other people, he should not struggle with this physically and mentally. The instructors of the branch LO/Sport, jokingly called "sport muscles", are responsible for proper training so the Army soldiers are in shape both physically and mentally to continue their work during the missions under dangerous conditions.

 

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