Saturday, February 6, 2016

Germany and the Netherlands increase military cooperation

On the 4th of February, Germany and the Netherlands announced a closer cooperation of their militaries. This process was already reported earlier in late 2015.

German and Dutch Defence Ministers signing a letter of intent

About 3000 Dutch soldiers from the 43rd Mechanized Brigade of the Royal Netherlands Army will be integrated into the 1st German tank division, together with the last 16 Leopard 2 tanks from Dutch stocks. 2 further Leopard 2 tanks will be rented/bought by the Netherlands to get to the 18 tanks required for a tank company. All of these tanks are understood to be upgraded in near future to the latest Leopard 2A7 configuration.

The Leopard 2A7 tank entered service in late 2014
On the other side a 400 men strong mixed brigade will be put under Dutch command. This will include a German tank battalion to be stationed at Loheide/Bergen in Lower Saxony, Germany.

The closer cooperation of the German and Dutch land forces already started in 2014, when the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade (11th air-mobile brigade) was integrated into the structure of the German Division Schnelle Kräfte.

Regarding naval forces, both the German and Dutch government have agreed upon a letter of intent, which includes plans of the German Navy being allowed to utilize the Dutch Karel Doorman support ship, while the German naval battalion will be integrated into the structure of the Dutch marine corps, but not be relocated to the Netherlands.

The Karel Doorman support ship
 Such European cooperation can be beneficial for all partner: Germany will probably not buy new support ships, despite originally planning to order two new ones; the Dutch Navy on the other hand had troubles affording the Karel Doorman, so German money will help out a lot.
Without the integration of the Dutch tanks into the German Army, the Netherlands would lack two tanks for having a whole company and the support structure related to using MBTs after retiring all Leopard 2 tanks a few years ago. On the other hand Germany has only enough tanks and soldiers to create the new 414th tank battalion thanks to the Dutch tanks.

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