Dutch Commandos' equipment "old, worn and therefore dangerous": confidential report
A lack of equipment and training has the Netherlands' Corps Commandos in a bad position, RTL Nieuws reports based on a confidential assessment conducted by the Armed Forces. A number of training exercises have been suspended for months due to too little equipment. "The equipment is old and worn and therefore dangerous", the report reads, according to the broadcaster.
There is a shortage in just about all Commando equipment components - vehicles, radios, weapons, night vision and ammunition. They're either broken or out of stock, according to the broadcaster. "Especially weapons and connectors are a concern." The lack of equipment resulted in training of new Commandos being suspended until next year, and existing Commandos can't train with using specialized ammunition, despite this being essential for mission preparation, according to the broadcaster.
The Commandos are the elite troops of the Dutch Armed Forces. They are on permanent standby for deployment to emergency, life-threatening operations worldwide. Commandos are used in freeing Dutch held hostage abroad, for example. They're also currently training the Kurdish army in Iraq, in the fight against terrorist organization ISIS.
In July, RTL reported that Commandos training was halted due to safety concerns. Now the Armed Forces itself is raising the alarm due to the equipment problems. Sources within the Corps Commandos told RTL Nieuws that the lack of equipment is now also putting missions under pressure, including the one in Iraq. Bushmasters - a type of armored vehicle - can't be deployed due to a lack of maintenance and parts. A .50 caliber gun on one such Bushmaster exploded during a training exercise, according to the broadcaster.
Tom Middendorp, Commander of the Armed Forces, acknowledged the problem. "There is a wide deployability issue, which is known to us and we are very transparent about it, also to the Kamer [the lower house of Dutch parliament]", he said to RTL. According to him, this sometimes means deploying fewer Commandos, or even none at all. "I make sure that the people I send on the way, can do their job well and have the right equipment, at least."
According to Middendorp, it may take a few years before the Corps Commando is back up to standard. "We got extra money to get our base back in order and need the entire budget period to do this completely", he said, according to the broadcaster.