Military trip to Nepal cost Dutch gov’t a stunning million euros

Mountain Leaders of the Dutch Marines reach the top of Mount Manaslu in the Himalayas, April 2016
Mountain Leaders of the Dutch Marines reach the top of Mount Manaslu in the Himalayas, April 2016. Photo: Ministry of Defensehttps://www.defensie.nl/onderwerpen/korps-mariniers/inhoud/weblog/2016/een-top--maar-vooral-teamprestatie-van-formaat

A very expensive mountain climbing expedition for seven Marines in Nepal led to outrage by many other members of the Marines. The trip, called "Expedition Manaslu" cost nearly a million euros, according to figures the Telegraaf received after appealing to the Freedom of Information Act.

In the spring of last year seven so-called Mountain Leaders - mountain guides that belong to the elite troops of the Marine Corps - climbed the 8,100 high mount Manaslu in the Himalayas. The trip cost over 923 thousand euros. Main expenses included the contract with a specialized tour agency at nearly 280 thousand euros, special clothing for the expedition members which cost 276 thousand euros and extra salary for the marines in the form of deployment expenses amounting to 150 thousand euros. 

The rest of the Marine Corps, which were subject to massive Defense budget cuts over the past years, are outraged by this expensive trip, according to the newspaper. Many members wonder why Naval Commander Rob Verkerk allowed this trip while a series of austerity measures had to be implemented to manage with the Navy budget. 

The leaders of the Navy called the Manaslu project a serious military exercise that will benefit Defense greatly in the coming years. A spokesperson for Verkerk told the newspaper that the expedition was approved in 2013 already. "Ninety percent of the costs were already paid. There was talk in the admiral board about not going through with the expedition, but it was largely a symbolic action."

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