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Arctic Training with the Air Mobile; GLV-V, December 12, 2017

Training with the Regiment van Heutsz; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

After a lot of snow which had fallen in the Netherlands on December 11, this was an ideal weather situation for the soldiers of the Dutch Airmobile Brigade to train under these harsh circumstances. In cooperation with the helicopter units of the DHC of Gilze-Rijen Air Base, an exercise was held on the Oirschotse Heide.

The 11 Airmobile Brigade (11 LMB) consists nowadays of more than 4500 military personnel and has been educated and trained to be deployed by air using transport helicopters. The commander of the unit is a brigade general. The 11 LMB is based at the Oranje Kazerne in Schaarsbergen and the Johan Willem Friso kazerne in Assen. The soldiers of the 11 LMB can be recognized by the red beret. The 11 LMB is composed of a number of infantry battalions and a few support units. The units that make up the Airmobile Brigade, are; the 11 Infantry Battalion Airmobile (Garderegiment Grenadiers en Jagers), the 12 Infantry Battalion Airmobile (Regiment van Heutsz), the 13 Infantry Battalion Airmobile (Regiment Stoottroepen Prins Bernhard), the 11 Engineering Company, the 11 Medical Company, the 11 Supply Company and the 11 Recovery Company. The units that fall under the command of the 11 LMB are part of the Dutch Air Assault (AASLT). Airmobile soldiers move on foot, with light vehicles, by helicopter or transport aircraft. There are various forms of air maneuver actions, namely Air Assault, Air Mechanized and Airmobile & Airborne. These forms are in order helicopter landings with military personnel, Forward Air Control through target designation and parachute landings in enemy terrain. Since January 11, 2014, the 11 LMB has been part of the German division Schnelle Kräfte (DSK), of which the German-Dutch staff is based in Stadtallendorf in the German state of Hessen. The Dutch and German units therefore regularly cooperate in both countries by combined training.

The unit which would train after the heavy snowfall at the Oirschotse Heide was the 12 Infantry Battalion Airmobile (12 infbat). This unit is known to the Royal Netherlands Army as the Regiment van Heutsz. Joannes Benedictus van Heutsz (Coevorden, February 3, 1851 - Montreux, July 11, 1924) was a Dutch lieutenant-general and governor-general of the Dutch East Indies (1904-1909) and military and civil governor

of Aceh in Indonesia. This regiment was established on July 1, 1950. The unit is named after lieutenant-general van Heutsz. The regiment is the successor of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) and continues the traditions of this army. It also carries the traditions of the NDVN (Dutch Detachment United Nations) that fought in the Korean War. The Van Heutsz Regiment nowadays consists of the 12 Infantry Battalion Airmobile (AASLT). The unit can be recognized by the badge with the Indian head of the NDVN. An airmobile infantry battalion consists of a staff, three infantry companies and a patrol company. Each battalion also has a 'para' company with paratroopers in the ranks. The 12 infbat is also made up of four companies and a staff. These units all bear names from the former Dutch East Indies Army. The units which fall under the 12 infbat, are; A "Java" company, B "Wonju" company, C "Nudae" company and the D "Aceh" company. The para company of the 12 infbat is the B company and can be recognized by the parachute logo on the soldier's sleeve. The patrol company of the 12 infbat is the A company and consists of scouts with specific tasks.

On the 12th of December there was an arctic training planned on the Oirschotse Heide with the 12 infbat. The main goal of this training was to conquer and occupy an enemy position and keep it occupied during a counterattack. For this intervention, the 12 infbat was dropped with light equipment on the heath. The soldiers of the Airmobile were dropped behind the edge of the forest with a Chinook helicopter. About 25 soldiers stormed out of the helicopter and immediately took a position in a line. Slowly the troops advanced to the edge of the forest to go into the forest. The soldiers had chosen the tactic to attack the village through the forest. The soldiers of the LMB soon encountered a simulated minefield in the forest which had to be avoided. With the aid of metal detectors, the mines were conveniently bypassed and the advance could continue. Behind the hill that lies between the forest and the village, the Mach gunner was positioned. Slowly the soldiers surrounded the village and the first shots were released. There were some enemy troops on the watchtower of the village. With the help of the machine guns they were quickly eliminated. Now that the attack had been started, it would go very fast. Small groups of soldiers advanced and moved towards the village over the hill. Every time a group took a stand, the next group of soldiers went over the first group to the village. The soldiers who had a position gave firearms to the advancing soldiers. It did not take long before the outside of the village was occupied by the military of the LMB.

In the buildings of the village, the soldiers encountered a strong resistance from the occupiers. The village was made up of containers and needed to be combed out one by one to ensure that all enemy soldiers were eliminated or overpowered. In groups of three to four soldiers, the spaces were invaded and enemy soldiers were eliminated. Now that the intervention was over, the medical teams were able to take care of the wounded. For the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) the help of a Cougar helicopter was called. The landing zone of the helicopter was marked with green smoke. The Cougar would land behind the forest where in the first instance the soldiers had been dropped. The soldiers now had the village under control. However, this did not apply to the environment, so a defense had to be set up. Soon the village was attacked by enemy troops with a counterattack. An enemy vehicle came to the village. Rapidly there was shouting "Pantzerfaust asap" by the military. With the help of this mobile anti-tank weapon, the vehicle was quickly eliminated and the attack was defended. With red smoke it was simulated that the vehicle was destroyed. After a number of successful actions, it was time to call the retreat. Within a few minutes the 12 infbat had left again after a successful mission.

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