MIL OSI – Source: Bundesministerium Der Verteidigung –
Headline: Dutch-German Partnership: Strong together
Den Haag/The Netherlands, 13.10.2016.More striking power, extra capabilities, and, as one Dutch general put it: „more bang for the buck“. International military cooperation brings seemingly endless benefits. For the Dutch however, it is simply vital. And the partnership with the Bundeswehr is among the most important.
The Dutch and German armies have a long history of cooperation. The partnership contains roughly 120 projects. (Quelle: Bundeswehr/Schmidt)Größere Abbildung anzeigen„The Netherlands has need for a strong NATO and European Union, therefore binational relations are crucial for our Military“, says brigadier general Roland de Jong. As Assistant Chief of Staff for international military cooperation, he advises the Dutch high command about international partnerships. Among them: the roughly 120 projects where Germany and the Netherlands join forces. „Both physically and politically we are a close match. Therefore, it’s an obvious match.“Since 2014 the Dutch-German partnership has seen massive growth. The Dutch 11 Airmobile Brigade was integrated into the Division Schnelle Kräfte, and 43 Mechanized Brigade into the 1st Panzer Division. Two of three Dutch army brigades are now under German command. Also, the two navies share Joint Support Ship HSNLMS Karel Doorman, while both countries have stepped up their cooperation in areas like cyber warfare, air- and missile defense (project Apollo) and future equipment purchases.nach obenTrust is keyAccording to de Jong, however, this explosive growth, didn’t come out of nowhere. He points to 1 (German/Netherlands) Corps, the German-Dutch NATO-headquarters in Münster that has existed for 21 years. „This period of close cooperation, has built trust between our two militaries. Without that, and of course all the operations we perform together in Afghanistan, Mali and the training mission in Northern-Iraq, the increased partnership over the last couple of years would not have been possible.“ Colonel Wiebe Baron, the Dutch Defense attaché in Berlin agrees and emphasizes the importance of trust in international cooperation: „When 1GNC first came into operation, it meant that Dutch and German soldiers would work together closely at Corps level for the first time. The Germans started realizing that those Dutch might be strange folk, but they most certainly are a good partner.“ The two countries make, according to Baron, a perfect team: „Both militaries are excellent all-round, but have areas in which they excel. The Germans are well known for their strong organizational skills. Combine this with the Dutch, who seem more prone to improvise when things don’t go according to plan, and we have an unequaled combination. NATO selecting 1GNC to be the first headquarters for the NATO Response Force, and getting 100 points for their efforts, is living proof of this.“ Ursula von der Leyen and Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert visited the Joint Support Ship Karel Doorman in February 2016. (Quelle: dpa/Daniels)Größere Abbildung anzeigennach obenChallengesThough superficially the cultures might be similar; when personnel actually start working together, differences do arise. According to the attaché however, research has shown that, because of their close cooperation, soldiers have grown closer to each other. „They have a mutual respect for each other’s ways. This is of great importance for successful bi-national operations.“There are also practical challenges. Is a German helicopter handler certified to attach a sling load to a Dutch Chinook? Can a Dutch medic apply an I.V. on a German soldier? And do radio systems even work together? „Therefore“, says Baron, „I have great respect for the men on the ground, who tackle these challenges head on and make the German-Dutch cooperation a success.“ And it is during the day-to-day operations that the strength of the partnership becomes clear. In the exchange of personnel for instance. Baron: „There are Dutch officers in high German offices, and the other way around. The ultimate sign that these cultures mix properly? When the foreigners do something wrong, they receive the same talking to as the locals. That’s integration.“ nach obenA nation of cooperationIt might be the largest, but the partnership with Germany is just one of many for the Dutch. The Belgian Navy, for instance, is entirely integrated into the Dutch admiralty; The British and Dutch Marine Corps have a long history of cooperation; and Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg work together in defending the group’s airspace. Dutch defense minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert sees herself as a catalyst for European military cooperation: „We see new partnerships form all across Europe, but more is needed. In uncertain times like these, we must join forces and increase our collective strength.“ So what will the future bring? „Integrating a full brigade into another military, is already the ultimate form of cooperation“, says General de Jong. „With that, I think we are an example to the rest of Europe. Sometimes however, integration is not possible, and ‚pooling and sharing‘ might be the highest achievable. That is something we need to look at per project.“ „Countries from all over Europe are following this next step in cooperation closely“, adds Colonel Baron. „Many would like to follow in our footsteps, and intensify, or even build from the ground up, their own multinational partnerships. They see the Dutch-German relationship as a pilot and an example.“ nach oben