Weekly overview Defense operations | News item | Defense.nl

News item | 11-01-2023 | 12:00

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Matthijssen praised the military for their excellent work in a complex environment with a high threat level. In addition, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the biggest risk.

Mali is located in the Sahel, an unstable region on the edge of Europe. The worsening security situation, increasing instability, terrorist threats and migration flows affect European security and thus also that of the Netherlands. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma) aims to increase security and stability in Mali.

Under Matthijssen’s command, the Netherlands provided airlift to Minusma in the early months of 2022. A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft carried around 700,000 kg of cargo from November 2021 to May 2022. Also included weredrops‘ from heaven. The division consisted of 90 soldiers.

13 Dutch soldiers also leave with Matthijssen. They strengthened Minusma’s staff last year.

Observer Major General Gaye from Senegal is in charge until a new one force commander has been appointed.

Three staff officers are still working in Bamako for the MINUSMA mission in Mali. 1 soldier assists the Germans in Gao. In addition, the Netherlands provides 4 officers and 1 Marechaussee to the police component within the mission. In addition, 4 Dutch military personnel in Mali support the European training mission EUTM.

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Anti-tank weapon Spike against blue sky.

Practice with the Spike anti-tank weapon.


A number of Dutch soldiers from the enhanced Forward Presence are in Latvia to practice with the Spike anti-tank weapon. There are no suitable shooting ranges for this in Lithuania.

Military medical personnel were challenged during a medical “track” last week. For example, the soldiers had to get a patient down the stairs from the 5th floor. Skills such as making an improvised stretcher for a victim with a back injury were also tested.

The Netherlands has contributed to improved Forward Presence of NATO in Lithuania. The defense currently deploys 270 to 300 military personnel to this advanced NATO presence. The force is in the Baltic country to show that NATO stands by and to show solidarity with the Lithuanian people.

Ship protection solution

Soldiers of it Navy Marine Squadron secured a Dutch merchant ship against piracy in the Gulf of Aden. For this task, the team left the Netherlands on Boxing Day. During the journey, a crew member on the ship was injured. A military nurse from the so-called vessel protection solution managed to stabilize him. The defense also played a mediating role in landing the wounded man. That vessel protection solution is now back in the Netherlands.

Ship protection solutions regularly protect Dutch ships against piracy in the Gulf of Aden.


For a year the Royal Netherlands Navy was in command Standing NATO Maritime Group 1. Germany has been in charge of the NATO fleet since Friday.

The Caribbean

Zr.Ms. The Netherlands ended the year with 2 more drug seizures in the Caribbean. It was more than 1,000 kilos. In 2022, the station ships intercepted a total of 35,000 kilos of substances.

Holland is a station ship in the Caribbean. There, it is used, among other things, for coast guard tasks and counter-narcotics operations

Defense of NATO territory

The armed forces provide ships, army units and aircraft for the Ministry of Defence’s first main task: the defense of the NATO treaty area. See the overview of the Dutch military contribution to NATO.

Current operations abroad:

  • Around 200 Dutch military personnel in Romania are part of the advanced NATO presence. With training, the soldiers prepare themselves for all possible situations. With the multinational unit they are part of, they are ready to defend NATO territory in Romania.
  • Around 120 Dutch soldiers protect the Erbil airport and the surrounding area in Iraq. From Erbil, another 3 soldiers work as advisers to the Kurdish armed forces in the fight against ISIS. To Mission Headquarters (Operation Inherent Resolve) in Kuwait, 2 Dutch staff officers have also been added. A soldier is also stationed in Baghdad for this mission. The Netherlands also participates in NATO’s capacity-building mission in Iraq with 5 military personnel (NATO mission in Iraq). It is intended to advise the security sector. That National support element supports the broadcast in both Baghdad and Erbil.
  • Dutch soldiers support German Patriot units in Slovakia. The anti-aircraft systems protect vital objects against possible threats from the air. This is happening in the context of NATO and has everything to do with the war in Ukraine.
  • Dutch soldiers are involved in peacekeeping missions in the Middle East. This concerns, among other things, United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (Undo), United Nations Ceasefire Monitoring Organization (Untso) and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifile).
  • In Jerusalem and Ramallah, 6 Dutch are involved in United States Security Coordinator (USSC). It concerns 3 civilians and 3 military personnel. The USSC mission focuses on professionalizing the Palestinian security sector. The USSC seeks to contribute to the viability of a stable Palestinian state. The United States is coordinating the mission.
  • Dutch military personnel also contribute to various headquarters and forward missions. The uniformed were sent individually to the Spanish Rota (European Union Naval Forces), Bahrain (combined maritime forces), Abu Dhabi (European-led Maritime Awareness Strait of Hormuz), Tunisia (European Liaison & Planning Cell Tunis) (in civilian), Kosovo (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) and Qatar (Operation Inherent Resolve).

Domestic operations/actions:

  • The Defense Ordnance Disposal Service destroyed 37 explosive devices across the country.
  • The airspace in the Benelux is monitored 24/7 by air combat control from Air Operations Control Station New Milligen. For security reasons, Dutch and Belgian F-16s are used alternately. At the moment, the task lies with the Netherlands.
  • The defense contributes to the reception of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees and asylum seekers from other countries. This takes place at Marine Etablissement Amsterdam, in Zeist, Groningen Zoutkamp and at Harskamp Military Ground in Ede.

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