Dutch commandos' training halted over safety concerns

Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach). (Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach))

The special forces training for the Corps Commando troops was halted to a large extend due to concerns for their safety, according to a mail from the highest leader of the commandos that RTL Nieuws has in its possession. Commander Groen wrote the mail to his immediate superior, Commander of the armed forces Leo Beulen. In it he wrote that he has no confidence that the security procedures of the trainings are in order, according to the broadcaster.

"I will not run any further training until the end of 2017", Commander Groen wrote. That involves about 60 different 'advanced courses', such as parachuting diving and handling explosives. The commandos are also no longer doing shooting training with live ammunition.

These measures follow the in March last year. The Dutch Safety Board severely criticized the lack of safety and security at the shooting course. Training exercises at that shooting course were already halted. Now all the shooting exercises with live ammunition that commandos go through just before going on a mission, are also no longer happening.

Commander Groen's email was sent just two days after the Safety Board published its report on the Ossendrecht fatal shooting incidents in mid June, so training has been halted for a few weeks already.

"This fact [lack of confidence in safety procedures] linked to the horrible material situation and the lack of proper facilities for some training courses, made me decide to stop all internal training", Groen wrote. That affected 19 commandos in the midst of their training. 

The safety risks of all training courses are currently being assessed by the Armed Forces. The Ministry of Defense confirmed to RTL that the commandos' shooting courses with live ammunition is currently halted while all regulations, teaching materials and safety measures are checked. All internal courses for the commandos specifically are temporarily suspended. Other courses have been restarted. According to the Ministry, the training suspension does not affect the operational viability of the commandos. 

The Corps Commando troops carry out the most dangerous missions, often secretly and in enemy territory. For example, they are used in the fight against terrorist organization ISIS. Commandos can also be deployed to free Dutch hostages from abroad, for example.