Dutch armed forces need tooth ‘and’ tail

I write a series of three blogs, one about the statistical situational of the personnel of the land forces so Land forces command and the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. The second blog is an explanation of the Dutch current lack of offensive and eventualy defensive capabilities. In it’s current form it is only able to operate in peace support or police / military training missions and with doing that depending on Airpower and support from other countries. The third piece has some suggestions of what to do to repair these deficiencies and to (re)create teeth…. of the Dutch Lion.

Part 1 Statistics and ratios: tooth-to-tail

A comparison of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps(RNLMC) and the Land Forces Command (CLAS) is in my view appropriate. Since both organizations operate on “land”, and provide most of the fillings / units in the framework of international missions. One other reason I would like to do this is because, how “well meant” the use of military for peace building is, the real purpose of the military is to be a “security” instrument in the hands of the democratic elected government… with my own words added … in the best interest of the people. In short military are there to fight… and win, when the situation and circumstances are unknown. So a military which can only be “employed” under normal or best calculated circumstances, is not able to do the job.

In my opinion there are two important factors for an effective fighting force. I deliberately not talking about others like, training, doctrine, organization command&control, logistics (in the sense of how to organize it). The two factors I want to talk about now is the Tooth to Tail ratio and the offensive capabilities of the Dutch armed forces as it is. In my last blog I already mentioned an overall vision for what is needed for an expeditionary capable force. In this blog I want to focus on the land forces capability especially. There is some overlap.

‘With the word “Armament” or “weapon” you create the illusion that it is about some form of deadly overwhelming and of course hyper modern piece of art… system’.

Tooth to Tail ratio

To calculate the tooth-to-tail ratio I look at some numbers/details of the ministry of Defense below. If we share the other units by the number of personnel assigned to the maneuver units, for the CLAS we see a ratio of 1 to 3.8, and the RNLMC 1: 0.87 or in other words behind each “individual” combat Army/CLAS soldier (tooth) there are 3,8 supporting soldiers (tail). While with the RNLMC the ratio is 0.87 supportive soldier. Of course we have to note here that the RNLMC are supported (on operations) by Army supportive soldiers as well.


2013 overview

Maneuver units in 2013 Formation formation% Battalions % of battalions
CLAS 3841    72,6% 7    77,8%
RNLMC 1452    27,4% 2    22,2%
Total 5293 100,0% 9 100,0%


I have looked into figures from 2013 and 2014. I didn’t have time to look into newer numbers but we can imagine that it will be significantly harder after the implementation of cuts and the number of soldiers leaving the armed forces.


2014 overview

Maneuver units in 2013 Formation formation% Battalions % of battalions
CLAS 3325   69,6% 7    77,8%
RNLMC 1452   30,4% 2    22,2%
Total 4777 100,0% 9 100,0%


But if we look at the proportions of the armed forces as a whole … then something is still not right. The CZSK has around 7914 soldiers with about 2,800 Marines. The CLAS has around 18,546 troops … If we want to know the right operational output, we see that only ¼ of the maneuver units among the 21,346 soldiers are belonging to the Tooth of the military. 75% or ¾ of the military operates within the CS, CSS, administration, training and so on. I deliberately not looking into the figures of the civil staff, the MOD and it’s services and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) and Royal Marechaussee (Military Police force a semi military unit with mostly civil security tasks like protection of the Airports and borders).

Totals Maneuver vs Other

Operational Command Total servicemen % Maneuver % Other %
CLAS 18546   86,88 3841 72,6 14705 92,12
NAVY(RNLMC) 2800 12,12 1452 27,4 1258 7,88
Total 21346 100,0 5293 100,0 15963 100,0
25%   75%


But there is more, If we look at the individual components, we see that the CLAS scores lower than 25%, with only 20.71% and 51.86% for the Marines (RNLMC). That makes you wonder doesn’t it? Of course I know the Land forces have a lot more, Staff, Special Forces, CS and CSS units. Beside CLAS has a lot of nonmilitary tasks and is responsible for the (civil) security regions and the National Reserve. But still…..

Totals CLAS vs RNLMC

Operational Command CLAS RNLMC
  Serviceman % Serviceman %
Maneuver 3841 20,71 1452 51,86
Other 14705 79,29 1348 48,14
Total 18546 100,0 2800 100,0


Oh yes, the reaction of the military and politicians will be… yeah but look at how other countries do it! Well that’s not going to help us when we need military units with accompanying capabilities.



Geef een reactie

Vul je gegevens in of klik op een icoon om in te loggen.

WordPress.com logo

Je reageert onder je WordPress.com account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Google photo

Je reageert onder je Google account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )


Je reageert onder je Twitter account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Facebook foto

Je reageert onder je Facebook account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Verbinden met %s