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Royal Netherlands Army

dutch army

The Royal Netherlands Army was raised on 9 January 1814, but its origins date back to 1572, when the so-called Staatse Leger was raised. This army of the Dutch Republic was one of the best organized and well- trained armies of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, and saw actions in the Eighty Year’s 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 captured the Netherlands in early 1795. The Staatse Leger was replaced by the army of the Batavian Republic in 1795 which in its 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 126e Régiment d’infanterie 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). Since 1814 (elements of) the army have been involved in several military conflicts (Waterloo campaign 1815, several colonial wars 1825-1925, the Belgian Revolution 1830-1832, the Second World War 1940-1945, the Indonesian War of Independence 1945-1949, and the Nieuw-Guinea insurgency 1960-1962). Nowadays the army concentrates on peace-keeping and peace-enforcing operations and has been involved in several operations (in Lebanon between 1979-1985, and the former Yougoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo) 1991-present, but also in Cambodja 1992-1994, Haiti 1995-1996, Cyprus 1998-1999, Eritrea and Ethiopia 2001, and most recent in Iraq 2003-2005, Afghanistan 2002-present, and Chad 2008-2009).

Royal Netherlands Army Deployment


Dutch army troops have deployed as part of an international protection force since early 1992.


Dutch army troops have deployed 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 Algemeen Dagblad reported on October 21, 2004, that the Netherlands would pull its troops out of Iraq in March 2005, which it did, 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 Afghanistan, to lay the ground for the increasing numbers of engineers who were building a vast base there. At the same time other special forces units from other nations deployed throughout the area, and worked closely together in this volatile area. By August 2006 the Netherlands deployed the majority of 1,400 troops to Uruzgan province at southern Afghanistan at Tarin Kowt (1,200), at Kamp Holland, and Deh Rahwod (200). The soldiers of Task Force Uruzgan were mostly from the Regiment Van Heutsz, supplemented with soldiers from 44 Pantserinfanteriebataljon Regiment Johan Willem Friso and the 42 Tankbataljon Regiment Huzaren Prins van Oranje. PzH 2000 self propelled artillery pieces have been deployed and used in combat for the first time. Since 2006, Dutch forces have been involved in some of the more intensive combat operations in southern Afghanistan, including Operation Medusa and the Battle of Chora. As of 10 August 2008, The Netherlands had a total of 1,770 troops in Afghanistan not including special forces troops.