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Royal Netherlands Army

Koninklijke Landmacht
Active 9 January 1814–present
Country  Netherlands
Allegiance HM The King
Type Army
Size 21.500 active full time and part time personnel
Part of Ministry of Defence (Netherlands)
HQ Kromhout kazerne (Utrecht)
Engagements Eighty Years' War
Dano-Swedish War (1658–1660)
Franco-Dutch War
Nine Years' War
War of the Spanish Succession
French Revolutionary Wars
Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland
Battle of Friedland
Peninsular War
French invasion of Russia
Hundred Days
Battle of Waterloo
Belgian Revolution
World War II
Indonesian National Revolution
Cold War
Dutch New Guinea Dispute
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
Commander Lieutenant General Mart de Kruif[1]
Deputy commander Major General Marc van Uhm

The Royal Netherlands Army (Koninklijke Landmacht, "KL") is the land forces element of the military of the Netherlands.

The Royal Netherlands Army was raised on 9 January 1814; however, its origins date back to 1572, when the so-called Staatse Leger was raised. Therefore, the Netherlands is regarded to be one of the countries that have maintained the oldest standing army, dating back to the 16th century. It fought during the Napoleonic Wars, World War II, the Indonesian War of Independence, Korean War, and served with NATO on the Cold War frontiers in Germany from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Since 1990, the army has deployed to the Iraq War from 2003 and the War in Afghanistan (2001-present), as well as a number of United Nations peacekeeping deployments, notably with UNIFIL in Lebanon, and UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992–1995.

Short history

Republic and French period, 1572 to 1814

The Royal Netherlands Army was raised on 9 January 1814, but its origins date back to 1572, when the so-called Staatse Leger was founded. Therefore, the Netherlands is regarded as one of the countries that have maintained the oldest standing army, dating back to the 16th century. This army of the Dutch Republic was one of the less organised, and not very well trained armies of the 17th and early 18th century, and saw actions in the Eighty Years War, the Dano-Swedish War (1658–1660), the Franco-Dutch War, the Nine Years War, the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession and the French Revolutionary Wars until the French conquered the Netherlands in early 1795.

The Staatse Leger was replaced by the army of the Batavian Republic in 1795, which in turn was replaced by the army of the Kingdom of Holland in 1806. It fought alongside the French in the Anglo-Russian Invasion of Holland in 1799 and several campaigns in Germany, Austria and Spain between 1800 and 1810. Most notable were the engagements of the Horse Artillery (Korps Rijdende Artillerie) at the Battle of Friedland in 1807, the capture of the city of Stralsund in 1807 and 1809 and the participation of the Dutch brigade in the Peninsular War between 1808 and 1810. The independent army was disbanded in 1810 when Napoleon decided to 'reunite' Holland into France ("La Hollande est reunie à l'Empire"). The army units became part of the Grande Armée. The present day French 126th Infantry Regiment has Dutch origins. Dutch army elements participated in the French invasion of Russia in 1812. Most notable were the actions of the Pontonniers company under Captain Benthien at the Berezina River (Battle of Berezina).

Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1814 to present

An independent Dutch army was resurrected by the new Kingdom of the United Netherlands in 1814, following the Orangist uprising against Napoleonic rule in 1813. This new force, the Netherlands Mobile Army, formed an integral part of the allied army during the Hundred Days Campaign that culminated in the Battle of Waterloo. Units such as Baron Chassé's were key in securing victory for the allied army. Since 1814, (elements of) the army have been involved in several military conflicts (Waterloo campaign 1815, several colonial wars 1825–1925, and the Belgian Revolution 1830–1832.

At the beginning of the Second World War, the I Corps was the force strategic reserve and was located in the Vesting Holland, around The Hague, Leiden, Haarlem and in the Westland. The Royal Netherlands Army was defeated in May 1940 and only began to rise again with the formation of the Princess Irene Brigade Group in exile. In the Far East, the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army was defeated by the Japanese in 1942; few elements managed to escape. Today's army grew out of the wartime force, starting with the liberation of parts of the Netherlands in 1944; the Dutch had plans to contribute a 200,000 strong army to the defeat of Germany and Japan.[2]

The army then fought in the Indonesian War of Independence 1945–1949, in Korea in 1950-53, and the war with Indonesia over New Guinea, 1960–1962. The Royal Netherlands Navy and an army battalion were sent to Korea between 1950 and 1954. In total, 3,972 Soldiers were sent to fight the war in Korea, 123 died in combat.

The I (Netherlands) Corps stood watch alongside its NATO allies in Germany during the Cold War. The corps consisted of three divisions during the 1980s, the 1st, 4th, and 5th (reserve) divisions.[3] It was part of the NATO Northern Army Group. The corps's war assignment, as formulated by Commander, Northern Army Group (COMNORTHAG), would be to:[4]

  • Assume responsibility for its corps sector and relieve 1st German Corps forces as soon as possible.
  • Fight the covering force battle in accordance with COMNORTHAG's concept of operations.
  • In the main defensive battle: (1) hold and destroy the forces of the enemy's leading armies conventionally as far east as possible, maintaining cohesion with 1 (GE) Corps; (2) in the event of a major penetration affecting 1 (NL) Corps sector, be prepared to hold the area between the roads A7 and B3 and to conduct a counterattack according to COMNORTHAG's concept of operations.
  • Maintain cohesion with LANDJUT and secure NORTHAG's left flank in the Forward Combat Zone.

During the early 1990s I (NL) Corps was reduced to the First Division 7 December, which became part of I. German/Dutch Corps, and then later the division headquarters itself was disbanded.

Since the end of the Cold War, the army concentrates on peace-keeping and peace-enforcing operations and has been involved in several operations (in Lebanon between 1979 and 1985, and the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo) 1991–present, but also in Cambodia 1992–1994, Haiti 1995–1996, Cyprus 1998–1999, Eritrea and Ethiopia 2001, and most recent in Iraq 2003–2005, Afghanistan 2002–2010 and Chad 2008–2009).

568 AIFV (YPR-765) infantry fighting vehicles were in service until June 2012, while of a total of 445 Leopard 2 MBTs originally purchased, 114 tanks and 1 turret were sold to Austria, 100 to Canada, 57 to Norway, 1 driver training tank and 10 turrets to Germany and 38 to Portugal (1 driver training tank). On April 8, 2011 the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced the last tank unit was to be dissolved and the remaining Leopard tanks sold due to large budget cuts.[5] On May 18, 2011 the last Leopard 2 fired the final shot at the Bergen-Hohne Training Area.[6]


Dutch army troops have deployed to Lebanon as part of an international protection force since 1979 War in Lebanon, 1979–1985 UNIFIL. Of the 9,084 soldiers who served in Lebanon, 9 soldiers died. Among the units that contributed troops to Dutchbat South Lebanon was 44 Armoured Infantry Battalion (44 painfbat) from the Regiment Infanterie Johan Willem Friso. All 9,084 Soldiers received the medal for peace keeping under war circumstances.


Dutch army troops have deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of an international protection force since 1992.


Dutch army troops have deployed to Kosovo as part of the NATO Kosovo Force since 1999.


A contingent of 1,345 troops (comprising Landmacht and Dutch Marines, supported by Royal Netherlands Air Force helicopters) was deployed to Iraq in 2003, based at Camp Smitty near As Samawah (Southern Iraq) with responsibility for the Muthanna Province, as part of the Multinational force in Iraq. On June 1, 2004, the Dutch government renewed their stay through 2005. The Netherlands pulled its troops out of Iraq in March 2005, leaving half a dozen liaison officers until late 2005. The Dutch Government reportedly turned down an Iraqi Government request to extend the Dutch contingent for another year. The Netherlands lost 2 soldiers in separate attacks.


In mid 2006, Dutch Special Forces Korps Commandotroepen teams deployed successfully to Tarin Kowt in Battle of Chora. As of 10 August 2008, The Netherlands had a total of 1,770 troops in Afghanistan not including special forces troops.


The core fighting element of the army consists of three brigades: two mechanised brigades and one airborne brigade. The number of full-time professional personnel is 21,500.[7] The Royal Netherlands Army is a volunteer force; compulsory military service has not been abolished but has been suspended. The other three services (Royal Netherlands Navy; Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Royal Marechaussee) are fully volunteer forces as well.


Unlike many other military organizations, Dutch Army soldiers are represented by a union. This union, the General Federation Military Personnel (the acronym is AFMP, Algemene Federatie Militair Personeel), was recognized by the Dutch government in 1966 and represents both current and retired soldiers. The AFMP is a member of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions, FNV.



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43rd Mechanised
Royal Netherlands Army - brigades in 2011

Prior to 2012, the army also included armoured regiments equipped with main battle tanks. One of these, the Regiment Huzaren Prins Alexander (former 3rd Hussar Regiment), was disbanded in November 2007 due to budget cuts. The other two, the Regiment Huzaren Van Sytzama (former 1st Hussar Regiment) and the Regiment Huzaren Prins van Oranje (former 2nd Hussar Regiment) were disbanded, along with the army's full armoured capability, in 2012 as a result of further cuts to the Dutch defence budget.[8]


Each infantry regiment of the Royal Netherlands Army consists of a single battalion. The current order of battle includes a total of seven infantry battlions - of these, two are classed as foot guards and the remainder as line infantry:

  • Reserve Infantry
    • Korps Nationale Reserve, formed after the Second World War out of the former 'Volentary Landstorm' units (formed in 1948, origins date back to the citizen militias of the 13th century)

The Regiment Limburgse Jagers and Regiment Infanterie Oranje Gelderland guard the traditions of the former 6th and 8th Infantry Regiment respectively. In the near future, the traditions of the Regiment Infanterie Menno van Coehoorn (former 3rd Infantry regiment, disbanded 1995) will be guarded by the Regiment Infantry Johan Willem Friso. The 4th Infantry Regiment (disbanded 1950) and the Regiment Infanterie Chassé (former 7th Infantry Regiment, disbanded 1995) remain disbanded.

The staff support compagnies of 11th Air Mobile Brigade, 13th Mechanized Brigade and 43rd Mechanized Brigade are part of the Garderegiment Grenadiers en Jagers, the Garderegiment Fusiliers Prinses Irene and Regiment Infanterie Johan Willem Friso respectively.

Mechanised Infantry

  • 17 Infanteriebataljon Garde Fuseliers Prinses Irene
  • 44 Pantserinfanteriebataljon Regiment Infanterie Johan Willem Friso
  • 42 Infanteriebataljon Regiment Limburgse Jagers
  • 45 Pantserinfanteriebataljon Regiment Infanterie Oranje Gelderland

Air Assault Infantry

  • 11 Infanteriebataljon Garde Grenadiers en Jagers
  • 12 Infanteriebataljon Regiment Van Heutsz
  • 13 Infanteriebataljon Regiment Stoottroepen Prins Bernhard

Light Infantry (reserve)

  • 10 Natresbataljon
  • 20 Natresbataljon
  • 30 Natresbataljon

Special forces

  • Korps Commandotroepen formed in 1942 - Special Forces unit

Support arms

Air Defence

Located at Lieutenant General Best Barracks, formerly known as De Peel Air Base.


  • Regiment Bevoorradings-en Transporttroepen - Transport and Logistics
  • Regiment Geneeskundige Troepen - Medical
  • Regiment Technische Troepen - Electrical/Mechanical Engineers
  • Dienstvak Technische Staf - Technical engineers
  • Dienstvak Militair Juridische Dienst - Legal service
  • Dienstvak Militair Psychologische en Sociologische Dienst - Psychological and Sociological service
  • Korps Militaire Administratie - Administration
  • Koninklijke Militaire Academie - Royal Military Academy
  • Koninklijke Militaire School - Royal Military School
  • LO/Sportorganisatie - Physical training and Sports

Military academy

The military academy of the Royal Netherlands Army is the Koninklijke Militaire Academie in Breda.

Army reserve

Korps Nationale Reserve - three mixed regional oriented battalions (mainly infantry with a light role), similar to UK Territorial Army. The battalions are placed under the command of three Regional Support Commands, which will be integrated with the 11th Air Mobile Brigade, 13th Mechanized Brigade and 43rd Mechanized Brigade by 2011.

Bi-national army corps

The Netherlands and Germany work together in a Bi-national Army Corps structure, the I. German/Dutch Corps. This is a rapid deployable Army Corps headquarters that can be deployed in the frame of the NATO Response Force. The permanent elements of this corps are a bi-national Staff Support Battalion and a bi-national Communications and Informations Battalion. The Staff Support Battalion consists of a bi-national staff support company and a logistics company. The battalion is based at Münster (Germany) and Eibergen (Netherlands). The 101 Communications and Informations Battalion is based in Eibergen and Garderen.


Armoured combat vehicles

Name Origin Type Number Photo Notes
Armoured combat vehicles
CV9035NL  Sweden Infantry Fighting Vehicle 193 44 to be sold
PzH 2000  Germany Self-Propelled Howitzer 57 Of the 57 systems acquired, 18 are active, the rest is put in storage
Fennek  Netherlands Armoured Car 410 Several versions: Reconnaissance, General Purpose/Cargo, Medium Range Anti-Tank, Air Defence Vehicle (Stinger Weapons Platform), Forward Observer and Tactical Air Control (Target Designation) party.
Boxer  Germany Armoured Fighting Vehicle 200 55 of the Command version, 19 of the Cargo version, 27 of the Cargo/C2 version, 41 of the Armoured Engineer Group version and 58 of the Ambulance version.
Bushmaster  Australia Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected 76 Originally 86 were delivered, however, 10 have been lost in the 4 years the Dutch were active in Uruzgan. Of the 76 remaining, 29 have been used in Kunduz, with no losses.
Airmobile Light Support Vehicles[9]  Netherlands Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle 208
Büffel  Germany Armoured Recovery Vehicle 25
Biber  Germany Armoured vehicle-launched bridge 14 To be phased out, will be replaced by 10 PSB2 bridgelayers and 4 Norwegian Leguan bridgelayers.
Bergepanzer 2  Germany Armoured Recovery Vehicle 22
Pionierpanzer  Germany Armoured Engineering Vehicle 14 To be phased out, and will be replaced by 10 AEV-3 Kodiak combat engineering tanks
Fuchs 1  Germany Armoured Personnel Carrier 24 18 Electronic Warfare, 6 NBC Reconnaissance

Other vehicles

There are thousands of vehicles in several versions:

  • 8,400 DAF Trucks, various versions with Broshuis trailers, Nooteboom trailers and MPSI trailers
  • 555 Scania PLS Trucks, various versions
  • 4,000 MB 290GD Wolf, 4WD car, various versions
  • 128 Mercedes-Benz 280 CDI, various versions
  • 12 Suzuki King Quad 750 AXI 4x4 Quad for Korps Commandotroepen
  • 6 BOZENA-4 Mini Mine Clearing System
  • 2 Scanjack 3500

Unmanned aerial vehicles

Air-defence system

Small arms

Name Type Caliber Notes
Diemaco C7 Assault rifle 5.56x45mm NATO Service rifle
Diemaco C7A1 Assault rifle 5.56x45mm NATO Used by marines and mechanized units
Diemaco C8A1 Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO Used by Special Forces and Cavalry
HK 416 Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO Used by Special Forces
HK 417 Battle rifle/ Designated marksman rifle 7.62x51mm NATO Used by Special Forces
FN FAL Battle rifle 7.62x51mm NATO
FN Minimi Light machine gun 5.56x45mm NATO
FN MAG GPMG 7.62x51mm NATO
M2HB Heavy machine gun 12.7x99mm NATO .50 BMG
FN P90 Personal defence weapon 5.7x28mm
MP5 Submachine gun 9x19mm Parabellum
Glock 17 Pistol 9x19mm Parabellum
Glock 18 Pistol 9x19mm Parabellum
SIG Sauer P226 Pistol 9x19mm Parabellum
Steyr SSG 69 Sniper rifle 7.62x51mm NATO
SAKO TRG-41 Sniper rifle .338 Lapua Magnum
Mauser SR93 Sniper rifle .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum
AI Arctic Warfare Sniper rifle 7.62x51mm NATO
AI AWM Sniper rifle .338 Lapua Magnum
Barrett M82A1 Anti-material rifle 12.7x99mm NATO .50 BMG
M590A1 Shotgun 12 gauge
AG-NL Grenade launcher 40x46mm Mounted under C7 and C8 rifles
HK GMG Automatic grenade launcher 40x53mm
M72A2 LAW Anti-tank rocket launcher 66mm
Panzerfaust 3 Anti-tank rocket launcher
FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS
L16A2 Mortar 81mm
MO-120-RT Mortar 120mm

Military personnel are allowed to purchase additional equipment and accessories like scopes themselves.

See also


External links

  • Website Royal Netherlands Army
  • Website Royal Netherlands Army Museum
  • Dutch Cavalry Museum

fr:Forces armées néerlandaises

ro:Forțele Terestre Regale ale Țărilor de Jos

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