This blog is a translated and rewritten piece. Because the current situation of the downing of the MH17 flight of Malaysian Airlines and the killing of 193 shows a big weakness of the European Union, and especially the Dutch government, to react. For days now, almost 298 people lay dead in a very hot place while the Pro-Russian separatists (or do I need to say terrorists?) still refusing to cooperate and even sabotage a good and honest study of the site to explore what happened. These circumstances highlight the necessity to have a (real) quick reaction alert capability for the (Dutch) government. I write this blog with all due respect to the casualties and the families and friends of those who died. But I think it’s necessary to point out that the Dutch government needs a capability like this now and in the future. I also think the current units won’t be able to do this. Not on a short notice and not as an independent nation. We will need US transport, Intel and could maybe deliver some Air-mobile or Marines in support of a US lead operation. In my opinion it could be possible to form and regroup our Light Infantry into a more efficient grouping. We also can buy more air transport capable aircraft and improve European Cooperation for Quick Reaction response units.
Dutch Armed forces need a dedicated paratrooper capability
Of course the activation of such a capability should be done in cooperation and informing Ukrainian and allied nations like US, Germany, Poland (because such a unit should be deployed through their airspaces). Now we see separatists removing bodies and wreckage, we see them looting suitcases and even bodies. We hear of journalists who see it, as eyewitnesses, but the specialists aren’t able to visit the crash site because the separatists won’t allow it. They even took the black boxes away from the crash site now in the hands of one of the separatist groups. The total crash site is useless to ever know what happened really. The reason could be the Russians and separatist want to remove al real proof of what happened. So this is why the Dutch Armed forces need a real fast and quick response unit. The best way is to make it a real paratrooper battalion. I named it the 101th Para commando Battalion.
The Belgian way
In the first blog I wrote about good examples currently operational. The Dutch can look and learn from the French, British and even Belgian examples. I wrote that currently even the Belgian armed forces have existing capability today because they have both the transport aircraft (C130 Hercules[i]) and the right specialized and highly qualified and experienced units: the former Belgian Para Commando Brigade has been disbanded and was reformed into a Light Brigade. It has one “normal” 12 light infantry battalion (mechanized Piranha IFV equipped) but also two Para trooper trained battalions at its disposal: the 2nd Commando battalion (French speaking) and the 3th battalion parachutists (Dutch speaking) and an special paratrooper reconnaissance unit.
Mali is a good example of such an operation with quick deployment over relatively great distances. If there need to be a quick response the paratrooper unit is the only one really suited for the job. A paratrooper unit is especially well suited and equipped for operations like:
- Conducting evacuation operations of European nationals (NEO non-combatant evacuation operation)
- Securing high value area/site for political / national reasons
- Provide support to the Special Forces (KCT
- Provide support to other maneuver units of the land component
- Defend the national territory (strategic reserve> anywhere very quickly deployable)
- Fight terrorism
- Participate in operations of the reactionforces of the European Union (EU Battle Group)
- Provide troops for the NATO Response Force (NRF: NATO Response Force)
- Participate in peacekeeping operations
Securing high value sites over long distance
An operation like I suggest in Eastern Ukraine is something in between a evacuation operation from a foreign country and a support mission of Special Operation forces. Because we can predict the reaction of the Ukrainian government, and somehow the Russian government.. they won’t fight the Dutch soldiers, but what will the un (badly) controlled militia groups of the separatists do? Will they give in their arms, or leave the place peacefully?
What the Dutch Government now shows is total passive behaviour, yes we can call on President Putin to support a quick solution,. We can be need and friendly but we now show to the world the Dutch government will not (and cannot) protect its citizens and do a lot more than seeking support for a solution. Instead of taking the initiative in our own hands.
Why we need paratroopers
If we look at the potential tasks and uses of why the Dutch Armed forces should need a paratrooper unit I referred to the French initial operations in Mali. I ended with a list of possible tasks for the 101th Para-Commando Battalion. Having a paratrooper option within the toolbox gives a government a possibility to act:
- with great persistence,
- show of force,
- at low cost,
- large logistical footprints,
- Host Nation Support.
This will also give the Dutch people a feeling of safety. Knowing that you will be repatriated as soon as possible by trusted and capable forces. And I expect this to be more necessary in future. Because the number of conflicts will grow. Also within the Mediterranean area.
Currently the Dutch Armed forces have certain paratrooper capable units. But hey are fragmentally present within different components. Special Forces from both Navy and Army use this capacity. Also included are some of the Airmobile and Marine Battalions. On average one company within each battalion is paratrooper trained. The big problem here, in my opinion, is that this capability is neglected. It is something they do once in a while besides their normal way of operation. They aren’t specialized paratroopers. Dutchforce21 wants to change this with a new concept of more specialized light infantry units. In fact, the units are less complex and more specialized with two specializations either primary Amphibious or airmobile (helicopter). Within the new concept of organization there will be a small unit within the other Light infantry battalions that will stay paratrooper deployable: the scout platoon will be serving the operational deployment of the manoeuvre units.
- 2x Marines Battalion: Priority> Amphibious + Cross Training airmobile / helicopter operations (secondary role)
- 2x Marines Battalion: Priority> Airmobile + Cross Training amphibious operations (secondary role)
The 5th battalion in the current organization an airmobile battalion is to be transformed into a fully Para-Commando Battalion The reorganized battalion carries the name: Para-Commando Battalion 101th Regiment Stoottroepen[ii] Prince Bernard.
- Cooperation with Belgian paratroopers Light brigade
- Fulfilling the most appropriate role for Rapid Reaction Elements that can be deployed at very short notice;
- Centralization of paratroopers capacity of the light infantry. The current organization where both Marines and Air Mobile airdrop operations “there” to do will be redirected towards a specialization for the Para commando battalion. (With the other battalions remains only Para capacity exist for the reconnaissance platoons.
- Specialization in the area of evacuation operations. This unit provides the ability to act over long distances. With great speed (Think of Mali, evacuate nationals from crisis etc
- Training can be accommodated by the Belgian specialists or other European partners, we don’t need to build a totally new educational organization for it.
- Possible to form an European system of cooperation to share responsibility to keep the Rapid Reaction role (on short notice) together. I mean, with such a system we can share responsibility for NEO operations of European nationals. For example Each country can take a “watch” for a certain period of time (let’s say a month). This means that this country will need to intervene if necessary, besides the first watch, another country could have some reserve units available. Countries can also share the transport aircraft fleets like they already do within the European Air Transport Command based in Eindhoven.
DutchForce21 has a modular approach in mind also for organizing and equipping military units. The Rapid Reaction Element and the Rapid Reaction Battlegroup form the baseline within the concept to base the number of units which the Dutch Government should have available within the active unit generation system, remember behind every deployable ready unit there will be units with different status[iii].The armed forces should at least have the capacity to offer the following basic elements:
Rapid Reaction Element
1x Rapid Reaction Element available within 48 hours (This is a unit of a company+ size or a equivalent supplemented with relevant subunits. Transported by air or naval vessel.
- Whether a company of the Para commando battalion (4 companies total available)
- Whether a company of the designated Marine / Airmobile Light Infantry Battalion (total of 16 companies available
- Whether a company of a Mechanized Infantry Battalion designated (a total of 16 companies of available.
- A combination of the above units according to operational necessity, availability.
Rapid Reaction Battlegroup
Such a Battlegroup must be available within 5 days. The increased size of such a battlegroup means there will be need of much larger logistical support. DutchForce21 concept will make it possible to operate such a unit independently but also depends on EU/NATO support in certain areas. Like Air transport for example.
- This is a unit of a full Infantry battalion supplemented with relevant subunits.
- Built around one of the 9 Maneuver Battalions of the CLAS
- Transported by Amphibious transports and / or possibly through the air.
- This unit is headed by a Joint Force Commander and has integrated command and control, land, air and logistical components.
Orbat of the Paracommando battaljon
101st Regiment Stoottroepen (PARA) This pdf is a possible variant of the orbat which I have in mind for the time being under DutchForce21. It is of course possible to simplify this and make it identical to the Belgian Para-Commando’s, for example but in that case we also would need two battalions to meet the four stroke which for me is a basic requirement!
This battaljon will be capable to generate independent performed operations from the platoon level to Company Group or as a full Battle Group (full battalion).The battalion consists of a total of 771 men divided among:
- Command, control and ISTAR Company with 187man. This company groups all C3I2, ISTAR, Combat Support in depth;
- 4x Paratroopers Companies each 105 men divided over a company staff, and 3 Para PL and a CS pl.;
- Combat Support Services (CSS) Company with 164 men divided over a company staff, Logistics-, Transport-, Repair Services- and a Medical Platoon etc.
This battalion is intended to be independently operational deployed for at least 15 days. For longer duration additional units must be added. The support units will be large enough to support the operations of independently deployed paratrooper companies (they are the first choice for the Rapid Reaction Element).
Combat power and capability
This battalion has the following combat power.
- 16x Sniper rifles (8 in recce PL, rest divided between Para Cie);
- 2x SR-UAV sections Recce PL
- 8x 4 × 4 with LSV with (Lahat with 8km)
- 9x 81mm Mortar with JFC support sections
- 4x Jumper Missile System range 50km)
- Combat engineers PL, with engineers, EOD and sappers etc.
- 24x Spike MR (range 2.5 km) Para Cie / CSPL
- 24x ABM weapon eg 25of 40mm GL. Para Cie / CSPL
- 16x 60mm Mortar Para Cie / CSPL
- 24x JFires / LTDS systems (Rattler)
- SHORAD system with 3 × 2 SWP. (Stinger / Red Sky combi)
- 12x Para Platoons = 36 GWGP (gun groups) = 72 sections
There are summarized above, a number of things that are new and have not yet been incorporated within the current organization. Not everything is necessary to deliver operational units, but it would be ideal. I will explain some of the “new” weapons and their capabilities in short:
- SR-UAV (Short Range UAV that are remote controlled drones, in a lightweight design.
- LSV with Lahat (Light Strike Vehicle) with Lahat launcher (these are the simple lightweight cell vehicles only fitted with Lahat launcher with four fire-made missiles. Illustrating below the LSV equipped to HAULING. No deployable weapons. Gill / Spike MR Then a RAM MK3 dual quad launchers and a detail shot of a single quad launcher.’s Lancher + 4 Lahat missiles weigh only 75kg.
- Jumper Missile This system is still in the development stage so it will not yet be available. Nor is natural to consider that the functionality can be picked up by other means. However, such a system with range of 50km seems a necessity.
- Grenade launchers with ABM (Air Burst Munitions) available in 25mm and 40mm. The latter is used in the Netherlands. Known to occur with smart ABM ammunition.
- J-Fires LTDS (Joint Fires Laser Target Designation Systems ) These systems are now even in extremely lightweight version: handheld.
- Shorad System To give this unit a lightweight integrated air defense capability has been sought to be as light as possible but sophisticated system. Firing from the shoulder Stingers are of course the most lightweight option, but it is useful if there is a fire control and radar + sensor system can be. linked Such as the RedSkyII IMI .
[i] The Belgian Air Component operates 11 C130 Hercules aircraft, which will be replaced by 7 A400M military transports from Airbus.
[iii] Take an example of the US Army Force Generation system If you need at least one unit ready for deployment, You will also need one or two units training for readiness, one unit will be reset. And one unit will actualy be on deployment. So the basic number will be 4 (Four). This system is applicable on both larger and smaller formations, on Naval ships and fighter aircraft/flights.