The Netherlands Army was mainly deployed in a Corps organization. The three Dutch mechanized infantry divisions were organized along streamlined Brigade Group structures without divisional troops. The corps troops organizations, particularly artillery and engineer were quite extensive which allowed for very flexible grouping based on the mission assigned. Although each mechanized division has a Panzer Brigade, and the other two Brigades in each division has a Panzer Battalion, the armored punch of the corps comes from the attached German Panzer division.
The other key element of the Netherlands ground forces are the Netherlands Marines. This is a unique organization which does not normally operate as a unit, but in separately tasked battalion sized ‘Groups’.
Both the 1st Group and the Parachute Company would normally be assigned to work with the British 3rd Commando Bde. These troops were trained for mountain and arctic warfare and would routinely train to deploy in Northern Norway.
The 2nd Group was dispersed throughout Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and West Indies, primarily providing local security but also able to form into a strike force if necessary.
The 3rd Group were reservists, formerly enrolled as marines this unit would initially provide security at naval bases but then would develop several Marine Battalions or a Marine Regiment for deployment.
The Dutch are the second largest operator of the Leopard 2, with 445 of them in the inventory. Starting in 1993, many (eventually 330) were upgraded to the Leopard 2A5 standard with improved armor. Representing about half of the tanks in service, the 4th Division was equipped entirely with the Leopard 2 while the Panzer Bde in the 5th Division also had these tanks.
The other half of the operational tanks in the Netherland’s roster were Leopard 1V’s, the ‘V’ standard had a better fire control system then the original tank. The 468 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) were used primarily in the 1st Division and the Panzerinfantrie Brigades of the 5th Division. Also many of the Leopard 1 variants were used by the Dutch, including the Bridglayer, and the Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV).
Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV)
Although there were about 500 M113’s and up to 900 YP-408’s (an 8-wheeled Dutch design from the 50’s) in the Netherlands Army, the most important IFV was the YPR-765. Although they were derived from the M113, the basic version of YPR-765 was equipped with a 25mm cannon and firing ports so infantry inside the vehicle could fire their weapons. 2079 of these vehicles were used but that includes several command variants, 119 Anti Tank variants (PRAT) with TOW missiles and other specialist vehicles. All of the regular army Panzerinfantrie units were equipped with this vehicle.
For reconnaissance work the Dutch use the M113 based Lynx vehicle but have added a 25mm Oerlikon turret. There are 250 of these in service amongst the Reconnaissance battalions in each division and at corps level.
The Netherlands Corps had extensive artillery firepower including an artillery battalion of 20 M109’s (Self Propelled (SP) 155mm howitzers) in each of the nine brigades and a Corps Artillery Group of Division size.
Within the Corp Artillery organization were three ‘Groups’ of Brigade size: 101st with two batteries of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 22 launchers and a battalion of Lance Missiles, 6 launchers. The other two ‘Groups’ were General Support (GS) tubed artillery units: The 102nd had five battalions of M110 SP 203mm (8”) howitzers and a battalion of M109s; the 104th Group (Reserve) had five battalions of towed 155mm guns, the M114/39.
In total the inventory included:
22 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS);
6 MGM-52 Lance; (not retired)
76 M110A2 203 mm SP howitzers;
222 M109 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (A2 & A3 variants);
123 M114 155 mm towed howitzers.
Note: Historically only 82 of the M114’s had been upgraded to the 39 Caliber barrel. but in Northern Fury all 123 were and in addition to the 4th battery added to each battalion in 104th Group, two of the retired (in 1990) battalions were retained. In addition, the Lance missiles (retired in 92) were maintained.